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Osteoarthritis (OA) is a significant public health challenge. Approximately 9% of the U.S. population aged 30 and older has clinical OA of the hip or knee. OA accounts for the majority of hip and knee replacement surgeries. While there is much known about the disease, clinicians and investigators still grapple with the precise risk factors that OA. Similarly, there are disconnects between radiologic disease and presence or absence of symptoms and the question remains as to whether there are different risk factors for symptomatic and asymptomatic disease. It is clear that the pathogenesis of OA involves all joint tissues, not just cartilage. But the precise role of these other joint tissues in onset and progression of disease is unclear. Initiation and progression of disease may involve different processes and be phasic in nature. Understanding systemic risk factors (such as dietary intake, estrogen use and bone density) and the relationships between such risk factors, local biomechanical factors (such as muscle weakness, obesity and joint laxity), and disease pathogenesis may lead to the identification of new approaches to the prevention of OA-related pain and disability.
To address some of the above questions, NAIMS sponsored a workshop to explore the status of research on risk factors for osteoarthritis and to identify gaps and opportunities for new research initiatives based on existing and emerging data from large clinical studies from on October 3, 2008. This meeting brought together and international group of outside experts for a one day meeting in Bethesda, Maryland. Additional individuals from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Arthritis Foundation, and the NIAMS Staff participated in the meeting. Participants received a white paper generated by Dr. C. Kent Kwoh describing existing OA risk factor studies and evaluating evidence supporting existing and proposed risk factors for knee and hip OA. The results from this meeting served in part to inform a larger meeting held by the Arthritis Foundation and the CDC in 2009. A meeting summary was generated and is included here