Epidemiology and etiology

The National Arthritis Data Workgroup estimates that 27 million Americans have signs and symptoms of OA.3 The true extent of the disease is much larger; nearly everyone has radiographic evidence of OA by the eighth decade of life, but individuals without symptoms often go undiagnosed. Approximately 6% of U.S. adults have daily symptomatic knee OA, and 3% report daily symptoms affecting the hip.4 After age 60, 10% to 15% of persons report such symptoms.

The prevalence of OA is higher in women, and they have more generalized disease. Women are also more likely to have inflammation of the proximal and distal in-terphalangeal joints of the hands, which manifest as Bouchard's nodes and Heber-den's nodes, respectively. OA of the hip occurs more frequently in men.

The prevalence of OA in Caucasians approximates the rate in African Americans, but the latter may experience more severe and disabling disease. Persons of Chinese descent rarely have hip OA; they are also less likely to develop hand OA but more likely to develop knee OA.5

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