New horizons in osteoarthritis

Age Ageing. 2013 May;42(3):272-8. doi: 10.1093/ageing/aft043. Epub 2013 Apr 8.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis worldwide and rapidly increasing with ageing populations. It is a major source of pain and disability for individuals and economic burden for health economies. Modern imaging, in particular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), has helped us to understand that OA is a dynamic remodelling process involving all the structures within the joint. Inflammation is common in OA, with a high prevalence of synovitis seen on imaging, and this has been associated with joint pain. MRI detected changes within the subchondral bone are also common and associated with pain and structural progression. Targeting individual pathologies may offer potential new therapeutic options for OA; this is particularly important given the current treatments are often limited by side effects or lack of efficacy. New approaches to understanding the pathology and pain pathways in OA offer hope of novel analgesic options, for example, monoclonal antibodies against nerve growth factor and centrally acting drugs such as duloxetine, tapentadol and bradykinin receptor antagonists have all recently undergone trials in OA. While treatment for OA has until now relied on symptom management, for the first time, recent trials suggest that structure modification may be possible by treating the subchondral bone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthralgia / diagnosis
  • Arthralgia / drug therapy*
  • Arthralgia / epidemiology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Humans
  • Joints / drug effects*
  • Joints / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnosis
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy*
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents