Osteoarthritis is a heterogeneous condition with a variable presentation
and a variety of patterns of expression.
Occasional muscle or joint pain or stiffness is a part of life for most
elderly. In those with OA, the clinical onset of the condition consists
of little more than gradual awareness of an intermittent increase in the
frequency and severity of such problems, perhaps with symptoms becoming
increasingly localized to one or a few joint sites. Because of this,
presentation for medical care is often delayed by many months or even
years after the onset. Moreover, the availability of over-the-counter
pain and anti-inflammatory medications allows patients control their own
condition to a functional level. By the time most patients get to
see a specialist, they have already developed the signs and symptoms of established OA.
There are, unfortunately, few studies that describe the natural history and response to therapy of various musculoskeletal
syndromes in the elderly.