More African-Americans Burdened by Osteoarthritis

New research shows that the disease is more likely to strike African-American knees.

Posted: 10/25/2011 08:12 AM EDT
Filed Under Health

(Photo: Grand Rapids Press /Landov)

More African-Americans are affected by osteoarthritis (OA), the most common type of arthritis that affects multiple joints, says a new study.

African-Americans are twice as likely as whites to suffer from osteoarthritis in the knees and had 77 percent greater odds of contracting the condition in both the knee and spine.

"Racial differences in OA phenotypes were more significant than gender disparity," concluded researcher Dr. Amanda Nelson. "Our findings suggest a substantial health burden of large-joint OA, particularly hip and spine, among African-Americans and further studies that address this concern are warranted."

The study, published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, analyzed radiographic data for the hands, knees, hips and spine in African-American and Caucasian men and women who were 45 years of age and older.

Researchers also found that African-Americans contracted osteoarthritis significantly less frequently in fingertip joints and with other hand joints as compared to Caucasians.

Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage that cushions the bones begins to break down. The disease worsens over time and no cure exists, but treatments are available that may slow the progression of the disease, relieve pain and improve joint function.

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) estimates that more than 27 million adults, 25 years of age and older, currently have OA and by 2030, 67 million individuals will be affected.