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Overview of the management of osteoarthritis

Leticia Alle Deveza, MD
Section Editor
David Hunter, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Monica Ramirez Curtis, MD, MPH


Joint pain and functional impairment are the hallmarks of osteoarthritis (OA). OA-related pain results from a multifactorial biopsychosocial process in which non-cartilaginous structures, including the subchondral bone, synovium, and periarticular structures, are involved and are influenced by environmental and psychosocial factors. Peripheral and central sensitization of nociceptive pathways may ultimately drive the perpetuation of pain and play a role in the chronic aspects of the disease. OA-related pain has negative impacts on mood and sleep and frequently affects participation in occupational and recreational activities [1].

There are multiple components of the management of OA. They range from the approach to common OA-related conditions such as depression, sleeping disturbances, and social problems to joint-specific interventions including nonpharmacologic, pharmacologic, and surgical options. Ultimately, most are aimed at improving the pain and functional restriction that characterizes this prevalent disease. Despite numerous efforts, treatments to modify the course of the disease have not reached a threshold of efficacy to gain regulatory approval.

An overview of OA management as well as prognosis will be discussed here. Separate topic reviews on the pathogenesis, risk factors, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and joint-specific treatment recommendations for OA include the following:

(See "Pathogenesis of osteoarthritis".)

(See "Risk factors for and possible causes of osteoarthritis".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 11, 2017.
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