In 1994, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that by the year 2020, arthritis will have the largest increase in numbers of new patients of any disease in the United States. The term arthritis refers to many diseases, the most common of which is osteoarthritis (OA). OA affects at least 16 million Americans, most of whom are older than 60 years. The disease is usually defined using radiologic criteria. More than 80% of people older than 75 years are symptomatic of OA. Considering cost of diagnosis, therapy (nonpharmacologic, pharmacologic, and surgical), side effects of therapy, and lost productivity, it is one of the more expensive and debilitating diseases in the United States. Given the large numbers of patients and the expense of the disease, it is not surprising that the diagnosis and care of patients with OA have come under scrutiny. The following article will provide some background on the disease and discuss management approaches that view the patient as a whole.