Osteoarthritis is a chronic, disabling, irreversible joint disease that affects over 30 million people in the U.S. alone. Although one may have certain joint symptoms, an individual cannot easily diagnose themselves. Rather, it requires a clinical diagnosis after assessment and testing from a qualified medical professional.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a joint disease that affects more than 30 million people in the United States alone. It results from the breakdown of cartilage that helps cushion joints. Often, it affects weight bearing joints such as knees, hips, and feet, but damaged joints can also be seen involving the hands, and spine.
Osteoarthritis is primarily a clinical diagnosis, based on history and physical exam. Plain x-rays of the joint can reveal joint space narrowing from cartilage loss, bone spurs, and joint destruction, all confirming the diagnosis of OA. Joint damage from OA cannot be reversed, but treatments may help to slow progression, and help improve pain and function.
Can I Be at Risk?
Risk factors for developing OA include older age, sex, obesity, joint trauma, and genetics. 80-90% of individuals over the age of 65 have x-ray evidence of OA, and women over the age of 55 are more affected than men of the same age. Increased weight adds stress to weight bearing joints such as hips and knees. Joint trauma, such as from old sports injuries and accidents, can predispose one to developing OA.
How Can I Treat Osteoarthritis?
- Strengthen muscles around the joint.
- Improves mobility
- Weight loss
- Use of acetaminophen (Tylenol) for mild to moderate pain
- Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) or prescription NSAIDs.
- Topical NSAIDs such as Voltaren gel
- Antidepressants such as Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Topical capsaicin cream
- Cortisone injections
- Joint injections with a Viscosupplement, such as with hyaluronic acid
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)
- Stem cells injections
- Total joint replacement
- Total joint replacement is considered when conservative treatments have failed to improve pain and disability.
OA Clinical Trials Are Underway
Over the past several years, Chase Medical Research has been involved in numerous OA clinical trials, most of which have focused on the knees, hips, and spine. The investigational drugs have mostly been administered through intraarticular joint injections (injection within the joint) or as oral medications. Most of the trials had a study duration of three (3) months to one (1) year. The longer duration trials allow tracking of the benefit for the patient over time.
The trials accepting new participants do change over time, along with each trials' specific eligibility criteria for participation -- some trials are looking for mild to moderate joint pain in only one joint, while others will allow participants to have severe joints with pain. Some trials have a placebo arm while others do not. The mode of action to reduce pain varies by each study, such as desensitizing neurons to pain or extended release formulations with anti-inflammatory effect.
Some clinical studies have shown promising results with improvement in pain and function beyond 12 weeks post injection. If you would like to learn about the current OA trial(s) now underway click the link below.