to the public and patient portal of the OATech+ Network website
Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease caused by damage to the joint surfaces. It affects nearly 10 million people in the UK, with the incidence increasing with age. Commonly affected joints include the knee, hip, spine, hand and ankle.
Whilst osteoarthritis causes physical symptoms such as pain, stiffness and fatigue, there are also widespread social and psychological effects. These effects have huge impacts upon individuals, and impairs quality of life. However, it is sometimes not recognised that osteoarthritis also has a very significant impact upon society.
The Arthritis Research UK (now called Versus Arthritis) publication, Working with Arthritis, discusses the effects of arthritis and similar conditions, not only on the work life situation of those affected by these conditions, but also the financial implications on patients, employers and the economy.
Improving awareness of what it is like to live with a condition such as osteoarthritis, and helping others, such as employers, to learn how to make small adjustments to accommodate people’s needs, can enhance the quality of life for those with the condition.
Whilst this can result in better support systems, from a treatment perspective there are still limitations. Exercise, physiotherapy, weight loss, and pain medication are common strategies for helping to reduce pain in the short term, but lthough this may mediate some the symptoms, unfortunately this cannot change the damage already done to the joint surfaces. Therefore, for most patients, a joint replacement becomes the end stage event. For some (about 20%), surgery is not successful in improving their quality of life.
To improve outcomes for those affected by osteoarthritis, research is vital. Although a lot of research is going on to understand more about the condition, many questions remain unanswered. The Osteoarthritis Technology Plus Network was set up to bring researchers together to try to answer these questions. This approach encourages doctors, medical engineers, biologists, physiotherapists etc to work together to increase the current understanding of osteoarthritis, and to offer patients better treatment options. For this work to be successful, patients need to be involved.
Important aims of the Network are to:
Involve patients in research
Engage with stakeholders including the public, patients, employers, industry and clinicians to communicate the findings
Monitor the impact of this work, and look at how to improve impact