It is becoming apparent that the disease process of osteoarthritis should be regarded separately from the clinical syndrome of joint pain, use-related stiffness and disability. The latter may best be approached as a chronic regional pain disorder that requires attention to physical, psychological and social factors as well as those related to the disease process. This chapter sets out to look at some of the practical implications of taking this view for the clinical assessment. Starting with the syndrome of hip, knee or hand pain in older adults in the community, we consider what leads people to consult, what the important features to assess might be, the role of imaging in the clinical assessment of osteoarthritis, and finally how a management plan could be formulated. The usefulness of assessing clinical osteoarthritis as a regional pain disorder is uncertain. Even if this were demonstrated, the concept of osteoarthritis as a structural disease should be retained as an integral part.
Copyright 2001 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.