What Does an Improvement in Self-reported OA Pain and Disability Really Mean?

Current understanding is that, even with medical treatment, osteoarthritis (OA) progresses slowly until joint replacement surgery becomes necessary. Prior work by our group had identified that, among cohort members, approximately 25% of people with advanced hip and knee OA reported improvements in their pain and physical disability over a five to seven year period of observation. There are at least two explanations for such improvement: they truly are improved or, as the disease progresses, individuals have adapted to living with OA by changing their expectations. In other words, what was once “severe” pain is no longer “severe”, perhaps because activities that aggravate the pain have been eliminated.

In 1997 and 2004, some of our cohort members completed joint examinations, hip and knee x-rays and questionnaires about their arthritis symptoms and disability. We used this information to determine if changes in self-reported symptoms and disability over time were associated with changes in clinical and x-ray findings. Non-significant correlations were found between changes in self-reported pain and function and changes in radiographs or physical examination parameters, further underlining the limitations of existing measures for longitudinal studies in OA.

Investigators

Gillian Hawker (PI), Jim Wright, Elizabeth Badley, Sindhu Johnson

Staff

Alison Archibald, Shirley Griffin

Grant

What Does an Improvement in Self-reported OA Pain and Disability Really Mean?

Funding

Physicians Services Incorporated Foundation (PSI)

Date

2004-2005
  • Johnson SR, Archibald A, Davis AM, Badley EM, Wright JG, Hawker GA. What does an improvement in self-reported OA pain and disability really mean? Abstract submitted to the ACR/ARHP Annual Scientific Meeting, 13-17 November 2005, San Diego, California.
  • Johnson S, Hawker GA, Archibald A. What does an improvement in self-reported OA pain and disability really mean? (Poster) Canadian Rheumatology Association annual meeting, Mt. Tremblant, Quebec, 2-5 February 2005.