Osteoarthritis (OA) has traditionally been viewed as a highly prevalent but milder condition when compared with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and some may believe that it is part of a normal aging process requiring acceptance, not treatment. A new study in Arthritis & Rheumatology indicates that OA and RA have similar impacts or burdens on patients when they first visit rheumatologists, however.
Also, after treatment, OA was associated with a higher burden of disease than RA, indicating that treatment leads to significant improvements in patients with RA compared with those with OA.
The study included 149 patients with OA and 203 patients with RA who completed a health assessment questionnaire at multiple visits.
"This new information may have important implications for public health and control of healthcare costs. Osteoarthritis is one of the three most common health conditions in the US population, at least 20 times more common than rheumatoid arthritis, and has been estimated to involve costs of 1 percent of the gross domestic product," said senior author Dr. Theodore Pincus, of Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago. "Our results appear to indicate an urgent need for improved treatments and strategies for prevention of osteoarthritis."