Is There Any Cure for Osteoarthritis?

Ask a Doctor

I’ve had osteoarthritis for a few years and my doctor tells me it’s a chronic disease. I’ve changed my habits and lifestyle, but I seem to always need to up the dosage of my arthritis medication. Is there a cure for osteoarthritis?

Doctor’s Response

There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but outcomes are widely variable.

A single prognosis is difficult to establish because of the variety of factors influencing the disease. It also may be important to look at the particular joint involved rather than lumping all the joints together to predict the outcome. For example, the prognosis for hip osteoarthritis may be different than the prognosis for hand osteoarthritis. Symptoms may not be able to be predicted based on X-rays, because some people experience a great deal of pain with only mild osteoarthritis on X-ray, and some people experience only mild pain while their X-rays show severe osteoarthritis. But a few studies may predict joint deterioration.

Some findings suggest that the following are true:

  1. Narrowing of the joint space seems to be linked with deterioration of the condition.
  2. The presence of osteoarthritis of the hands is a predictive sign for deterioration of the knee joints.
  3. People with rapid progression seemed to have knee pain upon entry into clinical studies.

Future research into causes of joint pain in patients with osteoarthritis will likely lead to improved treatments. Ongoing scientific studies are encouraging and include work looking at the effects of antibodies against nerve growth factor, which seems to play a role in pain perception in those afflicted by osteoarthritis of the knees and hips.

For more information, read our full medical article on osteoarthritis.

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References
Klippel, John H., et al., eds. Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases. 13th ed. New York: Springer and Arthritis Foundation, 2008

Rennie, N.G., et al. "Presence of Gout Is Associated with Increased Osteoarthritis Prevalence and Severity." Arthritis and Rheumatism 63.10 Oct. 2011.