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Nigel Arden

and Michael C. Nevitt

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date: 02 March 2021

Despite the impact of osteoarthritis (OA) on patients and the health service, OA remains an elusive condition to define and treat. Traditionally, OA has been diagnosed using radiographs and more recently magnetic resonance imaging; however, the last 20 years of research have changed our thinking about the disease and its treatment. We know today that OA takes up to 10–15 years to develop, has a range of risk factors, and that there is a considerable discordance between symptoms and structural signs, such that new classifications and definitions are moving away from structural criteria to combined structure and pain definitions. This chapter reviews the definition and classification of OA and its prevalence, incidence, and natural history.

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