In current medical practice, we search for and follow the epidemiology and common physical and laboratory examinations of patients with chronic diseases. Early diagnosis and treatment of many chronic diseases can aid in the prevention and reduction of negative outcomes. Osteoarthritis is one of these chronic clinical entities whose early diagnosis and treatment has not been given the same importance as that afforded to many others.
We accept the prevention of chronic illnesses such as Diabetes Mellitus and Cardiovascular Disease as standard of care. For the early diagnosis of Cardiovascular Disease, we commonly follow physical examinations of pulse, blood pressure and respiratory rate. Physicians are expected to check, evaluate and act upon laboratory tests for this disease. These tests commonly include cholesterol, glucose and fatty acid blood composition levels. Their results assist in the early detection and prevention of the progression of Cardiovascular Disease.
We accept the importance of early detection and prevention of Diabetes Mellitus as another good example of how a chronic disease can and should be approached. We follow the physical examination and laboratory testing in our attempts at its early diagnosis. The standard of care of individuals suspected of having a predisposition to Diabetes Mellitus, be it genetic or environmental, includes the laboratory testing of glucose and A1C. Similar laboratory testing needs to be found for all chronic diseases.
Osteoarthritis is another important chronic disease and should be treated in a similar fashion, with similar importance as is given to Diabetes Mellitus and Cardiovascular Disease. A lot of important information can be gained, towards this pursuit, from evaluating the epidemiology of Osteoarthritis in various patient populations in the United States.
Joanne M. Jordan, MD is a Professor at the University of North Carolina and is director of the University’s Thurston Arthritis Research Center. Earlier this month, November 2013, Dr. Jordan spoke publicly about the discrepancies in the importance that we give to some chronic diseases, like Diabetes Mellitus and Cardiovascular Disease, and not to others such as Osteoarthritis.
Dr. Jordan explained, in a u-tube video, of her 20-year-old study in which she looked at, in order to better understand, the differences in Epidemiology of osteoarthritis in the African American versus the white populations. She spoke of her findings of the differences, in the predisposition to osteoarthritis, of various joints in the body between these two populations.
Her ultimate goal was to stress the importance of affording the same importance of early detection to Osteoarthritis as we give to other chronic illnesses such as Diabetes Mellitus and Cardiovascular Disease. Just as we can halt the progression and minimize the complications of these diseases, so can we do the same and should do the same for Osteoarthritis.