Osteoarthritis 2002 Arthritis Conference Report

William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR, Editor of the Arthritis Center, Gives Perspectives Of Interest On Osteoarthritis From 2002 Annual Scientific Meeting Of The American College Of Rheumatology.

Below are perspectives on key reports presented at the national meeting of the American College of Rheumatology:

Introduction

Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that is caused by breakdown of cartilage, with the eventual loss of the cartilage of the joints. Cartilage is a protein substance that serves as a "cushion" between the bones of the joints. Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis. Among the over 100 different types of arthritis conditions, osteoarthritis is the most common and affects over 15 million people in the United States. Before age 45, osteoarthritis occurs more frequently in males. After age 55, it occurs more frequently in females. In the United States, all races appear to be equally affected. A higher incidence of osteoarthritis exists in the Japanese population, while South African blacks, East Indians, and southern Chinese have lower rates. Osteoarthritis usually affects the hands, feet, spine, and the large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees.

Medications

A number of papers supported the safety of Cox-2 inhibitor antiinflammatory drugs, valdecoxib (Bextra) NOTE: April 7, 2005, Pfizer agreed to suspend sales and marketing of Bextra in the U.S., pending further discussions with the with the FDA. For more information, please read the FDA press release. , and celecoxib (Celebrex).

Dr. Shiel's Perspective: While all medications can have side effects, including these anti-inflammatory drugs, these may have advantages by being less toxic to the gastrointestinal tract and stomach in comparison with traditional anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen.

Symptoms

Researchers from Korea presented a paper that demonstrated that knee joint pain in patients with osteoarthritis correlated with distension of the joint capsule and osteophyte (spur) formation as documented with ultrasound measurements.

Dr. Shiel's Perspective:This is not totally surprising since many of the sensory nerve fibers for the joint are embedded within the joint capsule. It also emphasizes why joint replacement surgery so often reduces pain (the joint capsule is eliminated with this procedure).

For more, please see Osteoarthritis Center.

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Last Editorial Review: 4/7/2005