epidemiology of osteoarthritis
Last reviewed 10/2021
Osteoarthritis is extremely common - some radiological surveys suggesting that about 10% of all adults have moderate or severe joint involvement.
The incidence is higher in females (2:1) and in the elderly.
The correlation between radiographic findings and symptoms is poor - only 30% of those with severe changes on the X-ray will be troubled by osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is found throughout the animal kingdom; unlike rheumatoid arthritis which is specific for Homo sapiens.
There are significant geographical variations:
- Caucasian women frequently get hand involvement
- OA of the hip is rare in China
Genetic factors are particularly important in the generalised nodal form of OA.
Environmental factors are also important:
- occupation, e.g. the backs of miners and the hands of cotton workers