Osteoarthritis: The most common form of arthritis and 5thleading cause of disability in the United States


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common and highly burdensome disease physically and economically. It is the most common form of arthritis, affecting 27 million people in the United States, and the 5th leading cause of disability.1,2With the advancing age of the population and obesity epidemic, the prevalence of OA is also increasing:

  • By 2030, 20% of Americans or about 70 million people age 65 and older, will be at risk for osteoarthritis3
  • Fifty percent of people age 65 and older already exhibit evidence of osteoarthritis in at least one joint3

Osteoarthritis affects middle-aged or older people most frequently. It causes a breakdown of cartilage in joints and can occur in almost any joint in the body, including the hips, knees, hands, lower back and neck.3

Osteoarthritis of the spine, known as spondylosis, is a degenerative disorder that can cause loss of normal spinal structure and function. Aging is the primary cause. Spondylosis can affect the cervical, thoracic and/or lumbar regions of the spine, and may involve intervertebral discs and facet joints, which can lead to disc degeneration, bone spurs, pinched nerves, and an enlargement or overgrowth of bone that narrows the central and nerve root canals, causing impaired function and pain. When spondylosis worsens, it may progress to spinal stenosis, a narrowing of spaces in the spine, which results in pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots.

A related condition, degenerative spondylolisthesis (slippage of one vertebra over another) is caused by osteoarthritis of the facet joints. Most commonly, it involves the L4 slipping over the L5 vertebra, and is also related to aging, most frequently affecting people age 50 and older. Symptoms may include pain in the low back, thighs, and/or legs, muscle spasms, weakness, and/or tight hamstring muscles.3

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists low back pain (LBP) as the second most common cause of disability in US adults. Ten percent of the adult U.S. population (age 21 and over), suffer from chronic low back pain. Approximately 31% of chronic low back pain is attributed to the facet joints, small stabilizing joints located between and behind adjacent vertebrae.

Market opportunity

OA is associated with an extremely high economic burden largely attributable to the effects of disability, comorbid diseases, and the expense of treatment.

Increased age is the primary risk factor for OA, but there are other important risk factors including obesity, injuries to joint areas, and rigorous physical activity such as engagement in intensive sports.

Cost of Care

An analysis of the economic costs of musculoskeletal disorders in 5 industrialized countries (Australia, Canada, France, United Kingdom, and United States), in which OA was the most common of these disorders, found a rising trend of costs that had, by then, reached between 1% and 2.5% of the gross national product of these countries. A continued upward trend is reflected in data from the United States in which, in 1997, the total medical expenditures for arthritis and other rheumatic conditions were $233.5 billion. By 2003, these costs had increased to $321.8 billion after factoring in inflation. A substantial part of these costs are specific to OA. One estimate, by Leigh et al, put the total annual costs of OA at $89.1 billion. They further estimated that between $3.4 billion and $13.2 billion of that expenditure was due solely to job-related OA, making job-related OA more costly than asthma and pulmonary diseases, and also more than renal and neurologic diseases combined.3

The CDC cites the following statistics:1


  • $7.9 billion: The estimated costs of knee and hip replacements in 1997
  • $2,600: The average direct costs of OA in yearly out-of-pocket expenses
  • $5,700: The total annual disease costs (US dollars FY2000)
  • $3.4 to 13.2 billion: Yearly job-related costs


  • OA accounts for 55% of all arthritis-related hospitalizations
  • Knee and hip joint replacement procedures accounted for 35% of total arthritis-related procedures during hospitalization
  • Rates increased most among the youngest age group (45–49 years)

Our vision

MEDOVEX is developing an entirely new generation of therapeutic solutions for the treatment of a very large market segment of OA with the goal of delivering a permanent solution. This permanent solution approach may save the healthcare industry significant resources and provide patients with a lasting solution to this common type of back pain.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Osteoarthritis page. Available at:
    http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm. Accessed 2/20/14.
  2. Bitton R. The economic burden of osteoarthritis. 2009. Am J Manag Care;15:S230-S235.
  3. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Osteoarthritis page. Available at: http://www.aans.org/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Osteoarthritis.aspx. Accessed 2/20/2014.