The Severity of Osteoarthritis Symptoms Often Overlooked


EULAR 2016: A new study shows that patients with osteoarthritis may carry a greater burden of disease than patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

A new study shows that patients with osteoarthritis may carry a greater burden of disease than patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

The study was presented this week at the annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2016) in London by Isabel Castrejon, M.D., from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

While osteoarthritis is generally considered a less severe medical problem than rheumatoid arthritis, the two have been shown to have an equal amount of disease burden. Miscommunication between physicians and patients is commonplace and in this study, researchers show a divide in rating the disease that can be the difference between safely managing disease and disease progression.

“Patients with osteoarthritis are more likely to have their clinical status underestimated by rheumatologists than patients with rheumatoid arthritis, although the burden of disease in osteoarthritis in these patients was greater than in rheumatoid arthritis. These data suggest a need to revise generally held views that osteoarthritis is less severe than rheumatoid arthritis,” researchers wrote in the abstract presentation. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"49331","attributes":{"alt":"©Sheff/","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_2853697157649","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"5942","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em; float: right;","title":"©Sheff/","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

In the new study, patient perception of disease severity was greater than physician assessment (by two units or more) in one-third of 243 osteoarthritis patients and one-fifth of 216 rheumatoid arthritis patients. The assessments of severity were equivalent in just over one half of osteoarthritis and two-thirds of rheumatoid arthritis patients. Physician evaluation of severity was greater than patient assessment (by two units or more) in 10 percent of osteoarthritis and 15 percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients.

The patients completed health assessment questionnaire which included 0 to 10 scores for physical function, pain, fatigue, a symptom checklist and self-reported joint count.



I. Castrejon, J. Chua, J.A. Block, T. Pincus. 

"Physician And Patient Estimates of Global Status are More Likely to be Discordant in Osteoarthritis than in Rheumatoid Arthritis."

 June 2016. Annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR).

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