Osteoarthritis, a Serious Disease

A recent white paper by Gillian Hawker M.D. (Chair of the Department of Medicine- University of Toronto) discussed the findings and data that led the FDA to consider Osteoarthritis a serious disease.

Per the FDA, a serious disease is “a disease or condition associated with morbidity that has a substantial impact on day to day functioning.”

At the recent Osteoarthritis Research Society International, Dr. Hawker stated that over 242 million individuals have symptomatic hip or knee arthritis. She estimates that nearly 1 in 20 people will suffer from the disease. She also stated that as the population ages- the risk of painful hip or knee arthritis increases.

Well documented causes of Osteoarthritis (OA) include Obesity and increasing age. All of these factors cause low physical activity which increases the risk for other medical problems. People with symptomatic OA avoid activities that increase pain and the discomfort can affect sleep, mood & depression.

In the Spine, Osteoarthritis has different names to include Cervical or Lumbar Spondylosis, Degenerative Disc Disease or Facet Arthropathy. Arthritic change in the spine is so common that Neck & Low Back pain is the 2nd most common cause for DALY’s (Disability Adjusted Life Years) in Adults. DALY’s is a measure of disease burden which estimates the number of years lost to illness, disability or death (See more). 

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent the effects of age. Ultimately, watching one’s weight, staying active and participating in an exercise program are the best ways to minimize the effects of OA.

Paul Saiz, MD