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Arthritis is the leading causes of disability, accounting for 7 million annual physician visits. Osteoarthritis affects 30% of patients over the age of 65. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis world-wide, with more than one-third of the U.S. population arthritis, knee pain, back pain demonstrating radiographic evidence and a majority of these experiencing joint pain on a daily basis. Prevalence of osteoarthritis increases with age; it is 1% for individuals below the age of 30 and more than 50% in those older patients with artritis.


Although osteoarthritis was initially considered to be only the result of "wear and tear," recent evidence has demonstrated that the chondrocyte has the ability to secrete enzymes that degrade articular cartilage as well as to increase the production of both collagen and proteoglycan matrix. In addition, certain growth factors modulate the breakdown and the repair process of chondrocytes. Nevertheless, with advancing age, the homeostatic mechanism that appears to maintain the joint in a reasonable function al state for years, seems to fail; cells are no longer able to maintain matrix and collagen production, and osteoarthritis develop with evidence of cartilage breakdown.

Osteoarthritis affects the hands, the feet, and the large-weight-bearing joints in an asymetric manner, pain, deformity, and limitation of range of motion. In the affected joints, focal erosive lesions, cartilage destruction, subchrondral sclerosis, cyst formation, and large osteophytes at the joint margins are seen. In contrast to rheumatoid arthritis.