Advancing Osteoarthritis Treatments

Learn how the Arthritis Foundation is leading the way in research on the most prevalent form of joint disease.

OA is the most common type of arthritis by far, affecting 32.5 million adults in the United States. The disorder can damage any joint, but most commonly affects the joints in hands, knees, hips and spine. Its impact can range from mild to severe with constant chronic pain, progressive, irreversible structural damage and gradual loss of function.

Despite its prevalence and long-term effects, there has been a lack of focus around the topic for patients, health care providers and researchers. Historically, scientists have been challenged in OA research because disease progression, which typically occurs slowly over years, is difficult to measure and track.

With our 70+ year history as a subject matter leader with strong credibility among patients, researchers and the health care community, the Arthritis Foundation has the unique ability to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders — the arthritis community — to shape the future of the diagnosis, treatment and management of OA, while ultimately working toward a cure, together.

“The Arthritis Foundation played a really critical role in starting discussions around OA. We’ve done a great job at capturing more dimensions in the patient’s life. The Foundation was important in bringing the voice of the patient to the table.”

— Dr. Martin Lotz, Professor, Department of Molecular Medicine at Scripps Research California Campus

Kickstarting OA Research

In the early 2000s, the Arthritis Foundation pulled together OA researchers from around the world as well as patients, health care providers, industry leaders and policy makers, including the FDA, to meet and discuss the challenges and possible solutions to conducting OA research. The Segal North American Osteoarthritis Workshops (SNOW) conferences kickstarted more OA research with more practical measurement targets and tools, and the Arthritis Foundation has continued to be central to these investigations, not only as a significant source of grant funding but as an organizer of collaborations among key stakeholders and across research institutions.

Over the years, the Arthritis Foundation has put millions of dollars into OA research, and it remains committed to this key pillar of its mission.

Our Commitment

Today, treatment options for OA are limited. Many people with the disease rely on opioid pain relief medications, which carry the risk of dependence or addiction, until their joint damage is severe enough to necessitate joint replacement surgery. Living with OA is a disruptive, painful way of life, and as the leading organization dedicated to ending arthritis, the Arthritis Foundation is committed to reversing this reality. Our current initiatives include:

  • Osteoarthritis Clinical Trial Network (OA-CTN)
    We’re redefining the future of OA through the creation and expansion of the first OA-CTN to accelerate clinical research and scientific collaboration and discovery, including clinical trial promotion. Our OA-CTN has brought together leading scientists in OA from Cleveland Clinic, Duke University, UC San Francisco and other respected institutions to pursue real solutions for people living with the disease.

  • Formulation of OA Treatment Guideline
    We partnered with the American College of Rheumatology to create the new Guideline for the Management of Osteoarthritis of the Hand, Hip and Knee. This guideline, which incorporates the critical point of view of patients, provides treatment guidance for clinicians.
  • Collecting Data to Understand Those Who Suffer
    We’re spearheading one of the largest data collection efforts on arthritis patients in the world through our INSIGHTS Assessment, which drives our research agenda. Of those completing assessments, 63% have doctor-diagnosed OA.
  • Partnering with FDA to Advance OA Drug Development
    We’re working with the Food and Drug Administration to issue new guidance on osteoarthritis that will establish new, more precise biochemical and imaging standards for diagnosis and treatment. This will help clear the way to new and better therapies.
  • Facilitating Stem Cell Research
    We’re working with Emory University to recruit arthritis patients for their best-in-class stem cell research project.
  • Developing Progression Measurement Standards
    We’re standardizing measurements for gauging the onset and development of OA, which is key to tracking and measuring the progression — or improvement — of OA in research as well as for potential new treatments.
  • Improving Detection Technology
    Recognizing the limitations of traditional X-ray imagery in measuring the degeneration of a joint affected by OA, we’re improving scanning technology through the use of more precise MRI, 3-D and weight-bearing X-ray and CT scans.
  • Exploring Inflammation Preventives
    We’re funding a trial that gives people who have surgery for an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury — a precursor to OA — a six-month course of an anti-inflammatory allergy drug to see if it will knock down inflammation levels and head off or delay OA.
  • Supporting Patient Engagement & Research Recruitment
    Our Arthritis Trial Finder helps raise awareness and increase participation in arthritis-related clinical trials to accelerate the development of new drugs and treatments. This tool had nearly 10,000 visitors in 2019.
  • Spreading the Word
    In 2020, we also facilitated conferences dedicated solely to clinical studies of osteoarthritis, in which thought leaders from around the world participated. This OA Clinic Studies (OACS) forum covered potential treatments ranging from regenerative medicine (cell therapy) to the use of biologic drugs for OA and much-anticipated potential new treatment that inhibits nerve growth factor. The 2020 conference was the first of what will become an annual event.

Our Hope

The Arthritis Foundation is proud to lead these and more efforts that have a real impact on OA patients today — and could lead to prevention or even a cure in the future. It’s exciting to see these areas of research finally taking hold and accelerating.

As we continue to bring together patients from different backgrounds, health care providers in diverse disciplines and multiple expert institutions, we are leading the way to the development of new therapies and helping improve the lives of those living with OA.

With the help of the entire arthritis community, we’re making progress, engaging thought leaders and driving toward a future without the pain and disability wrought by OA.


By giving us 10 minutes, you become part of a force that will change the lives of the almost 60 million people with arthritis. Your voice matters.

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