Clinical significance of bone changes in osteoarthritis

Sections of Clinical Epidemiology Research and Training Unit, and Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, 650 Albany Street, Suite X200, Clin Epi Unit, Boston, MA 02118, USA.
Therapeutic advances in musculoskeletal disease 08/2012; 4(4):259-67. DOI: 10.1177/1759720X12437354
Source: PubMed


Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis, is now understood to involve all joint tissues, with active anabolic and catabolic processes. Knee OA in particular is considered to be a largely mechanically-driven disease. As bone adapts to loads by remodeling to meet its mechanical demands, bone alterations likely play an important role in OA development. Subchondral bone changes in bone turnover, mineralization, and volume result in altered apparent and material density of bone that may adversely affect the joint's biomechanical environment. Subchondral bone alterations such as bone marrow lesions (BMLs) and subchondral bone attrition (SBA) both tend to occur more frequently in the more loaded knee compartments, and are associated with cartilage loss in the same region. Recently, MRI-based 3D bone shape has been shown to track concurrently with and predict OA onset.The contributions of structural abnormalities to the clinical manifestations of knee OA are becoming better understood as well. While a structure-symptom discordance in knee OA is thought to exist, such observations do not take into account all potential factors that can contribute to between-person differences in the pain experience. Using novel methodology, pain fluctuation has been associated with changes in BMLs, synovitis and effusion. SBA has also been associated with knee pain, but the relationship of osteophytes to pain has been conflicting.Understanding the pathophysiologic sequences and consequences of OA pathology will guide rational therapeutic targeting. Importantly, rational treatment targets require understanding what structures contribute to pain as pain is the reason patients seek medical care.

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    • "One possible objective measure could come from radiographic analyses. Numerous studies however have reported that radiographic measures which are the recommended validated technique to assess OA structural anomalies, correlate poorly at the individual level with patient symptoms [6] [7] [8]. Such measures are also made in static conditions during which the principle deficits related to movement may not appear. "
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