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Epidemiology of osteoarthritis

  • K.D. Allen
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to: K.D. Allen, Thurston Arthritis Research Center, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 3300 Thurston Bldg., CB# 7280, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7280, USA. Tel: 919-966-0558.
    Affiliations
    Thurston Arthritis Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

    Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

    Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • L.M. Thoma
    Affiliations
    Thurston Arthritis Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

    Division of Physical Therapy, Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Y.M. Golightly
    Affiliations
    Thurston Arthritis Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

    Division of Physical Therapy, Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

    Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

    Injury Prevention Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
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Published:September 14, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joca.2021.04.020

      Summary

      Objective

      To summarize the current state of the evidence regarding osteoarthritis (OA) prevalence, incidence and risk factors at the person-level and joint-level.

      Design

      This was a narrative review that took a comprehensive approach regarding inclusion of potential risk factors. The review complements prior reviews of OA epidemiology, with a focus on new research and emerging topics since 2017, as well as seminal studies.

      Results

      Studies continue to illustrate the high prevalence of OA worldwide, with a greater burden among older individuals, women, some racial and ethnic groups, and individuals with lower socioeconomic status. Modifiable risk factors for OA with the strongest evidence are obesity and joint injury. Topics of high interest or emerging evidence for a potential association with OA risk or progression include specific vitamins and diets, high blood pressure, genetic factors, metformin use, bone mineral density, abnormal joint shape and malalignment, and lower muscle strength/quality. Studies also continue to highlight the heterogenous nature of OA, with strong interest in understanding and defining OA phenotypes.

      Conclusions

      OA is an increasingly prevalent condition with worldwide impacts on many health outcomes. The strong evidence for obesity and joint injury as OA risk factors calls for heightened efforts to mitigate these risks at clinical and public health levels. There is also a need for continued research regarding how potential person- and joint-level risk factors may interact to influence the development and progression of OA.

      Keywords

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