Conference Coverage

Disease burden higher in osteoarthritis than rheumatoid arthritis



– Osteoarthritis is associated with a “considerably higher disease burden” than rheumatoid arthritis 6 months after initial presentation, according to one expert’s analysis at the World Congress on Osteoarthritis.

This may partly be because of the improved treatments now available for rheumatoid arthritis, whereas there remain few treatments, and no disease-modifying therapy as yet, for osteoarthritis, Theodore Pincus, MD, suggested at the congress sponsored by the Osteoarthritis Research Society International.

Dr. Theodore P. Pincus

Dr. Theodore P. Pincus

Dr. Pincus, who is a professor in the department of internal medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago has a long history of researching how pain and functional status affect patient status, morbidity, and mortality, particularly in RA.

“The ‘conventional’ wisdom is that ‘osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis,’ and ‘rheumatoid arthritis is recognized as the most crippling or disabling type of arthritis,’ ” he said, citing text from a health website and a report of the World Health Organization.

“We all know there is a lot of information on the Internet that may not be as accurate as we would like,” he observed. “We characterize this as ‘eminence-based medicine,’ ” Dr. Pincus joked, “which is defined as making the same mistakes with increasing confidence over an impressive number of years!” The alternative is, of course, evidence-based medicine, which is “the best approach,” requiring data from both clinical observations and clinical trials.

Even seemingly credible sources of health information can relay incorrect, or out-of-date, messages, such as RA being associated with worse functional status than OA. Recent observational data (RMD Open. 2017;3[1]:e000391), suggest that actually the reverse may be true, and that the disease burden seen with OA in routine care is as great as, if not greater than, RA.

Indeed, patients with OA who completed the Multi-Dimensional Health Assessment Questionnaire (MDHAQ)/Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data (RAPID3) at diagnosis at four different sites were found to have similar or worse scores for physical function, pain, and patient global assessment when compared with RA.