Purpose of review: This paper summarizes previous research regarding how osteoarthritis varies across racial groups, including differences in prevalence and radiographic features and differences in pain and function.
Recent findings: Regarding the prevalence of osteoarthritis, prior studies indicate knee osteoarthritis may be more common in African-Americans than Caucasians in the United States, but this may vary according to gender; knee osteoarthritis is more common in Chinese than U.S. Caucasian women; hip and hand osteoarthritis are less common among Chinese individuals than U.S. Caucasians; self-reported arthritis may be less common among Hispanics than Caucasians in the United States. Racial differences in some specific radiographic features of osteoarthritis have been identified. Pain and functional limitations are greater for African-Americans than Caucasians with knee osteoarthritis, and some contributing factors have been identified.
Summary: While some racial differences in osteoarthritis prevalence and severity have been identified, more research is needed on under-studied racial and ethnic groups and joint groups (e.g. foot, spine). Future studies should emphasize potential explanatory factors, such as genetic, environmental, anatomical, and biomechanical features. Current findings emphasize the importance of targeting weight management and psychosocial interventions among African-Americans with knee osteoarthritis.