The clinical burden of osteoarthritis (OA) is difficult to assess because of the substantial variability between patients.
Objective: Evaluate the human consequences of OA in patients.
Methods: In 2000, a nationwide survey was conducted among a sample of more than 5000 physicians (90.3% general practitioners and 9.7% rheumatologists), representative of French physicians. Each recruited the first two patients consulting for hip, knee, or hand OA after the survey began. The functional limitation rates were compared with those for age- and sex-matched controls obtained from the 1999 population-based national survey on disability (HID survey).
Results: Clinical and demographic information was obtained for 10,412 OA patients (mean-age 66.2 years, sex ratio F:M 1.96). The OA diagnosis was based on both clinical and radiographic findings for 84.5%. More than 80% of all patients reported limitations in their activities of daily living, either for basic tasks, leisure activities, or work. OA patients were substantially more limited than controls: the standardised limitation rate ratios (SLRR) were 6.0 (95% confidence interval: 5.9:6.1) for mobility outside the home, 2.1 (2.0:2.1) for house cleaning, 1.6 (1.5:1.8) for dressing oneself, and 1.6 (1.5:1.8) for sports. Of the 17.6% of OA patients and 17.5% of the controls still working, 64.4% and 14.3%, respectively, were limited in their job duties, for a SLRR of 4.5 (4.3:4.7).
Conclusion: This study shows that OA-related disability has a significant impact on the retired as well as on those still involved in the labour market.