The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) has designated 2016 as the “Global Year Against Pain in the Joints”. One of the most common causes of joint pain is Osteoarthritis (OA). In fact, 20% of chronic pain worldwide is associated with OA. The most commonly affected joints are the knees, hips, fingers and toes. OA is most common in people over the age of 65.


The most common symptoms of OA are:

These symptoms generally progress with age and activity, although, the underlying cause of OA and symptom progression is multifactorial and not entirely understood.


Previously, OA was thought simply to be caused by general mechanical wear and tear of the joints; however, it is now recognised as a degenerative disease of the joints, with numerous risk factors. Major factors contributing to the development of OA include weight (the main risk factor second to age), genetics, joint injury and joint overuse.


Unfortunately, there is no cure for OA. Contrary to popular belief, however, the symptoms of OA are not inevitable. Various medical treatments and management strategies exist that aim to alleviate OA associated pain, improve mobility and function, and slow the progression of OA.

References & Further Reading:

  1. International Association for the Study of Pain. 2016 Global Year Against Pain in the Joints. 2016;
  4. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Osteoarthritis. 2015;
  5. PubMed Health. Osteoarthritis: Overview. 2014;
  6. Image by BruceBlaus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.
  7. Garne Mr, Alshameeri Z and Khanduja V. Osteoarthritis: genes, nature–nurture interaction and the role of leptin. Int Orthop. 2013; 37:2499-2505.
  8. Thijssen E, van Caam A, van der Kraan PM. Obesity and osteoarthritis, more than just wear and tear: pivotal roles for inflamed adipose tissue and dyslipidaemia in obesity-induced osteoarthritis. Rheumatology. 2015;4:588-600.
  9. Papathanasiou I et al. Molecular changes indicative of cartilage degeneration and osteoarthritis development in patients with anterior cruciate ligament injury. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2016;17:21.
  10. Goodwin JL, Kraemer JJ and Bajwa ZH. The use of opioids in the treatment of osteoarthritis: when, why, and how? Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2005;9:390-398.

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