Arthritis Research

Osteoarthritis Research from ARIA

Since 1988, the Arthritis Research Institute of America has focused 100% of its efforts on osteoarthritis research. On the “Our Research Papers” page, you’ll find more than twenty scientific papers that have been published in peer-reviewed journals. Over 3,700 volunteer participants from Florida have participated in the longitudinal Clearwater Osteoarthritis Study. The study was designed to discover why some people develop this disease and others don’t. More than 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, the number one crippler of adults. By 2030, at least 70 million people, 25% of Americans, will have developed it. Our research and published papers are just the first step in preventing and treating osteoarthritis.

If you or someone you love has hip pain, knee pain, foot pain, back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, or hand pain, osteoarthritis may be the culprit. Formerly described as the result of “wear and tear” on the joints, research is pointing towards more specific causes including older age, joint injury, overweight and obesity, and genetic susceptibility.

Osteoarthritis strikes people in more than their joint; it also affects their finances and lifestyle. Treatments like medications and surgery are expensive and not risk-free. Income may be decreased or lost completely due to accompanying disability. One in three families are touched by osteoarthritis, with a cost to the economy of approximately a trillion dollars annually.

The Arthritis Research Institute of America, through its low cost, community-based studies has been seeking hereditary and lifestyle risk factors for osteoarthritis. We contribute to public health, analyze study data in collaboration with other research specialists and our interns, and provide a forum for our volunteers and our financial supporters to commit their resources towards making medical history. We welcome your help in using our research to find ways of improving the lives of people with osteoarthritis and prevent it in future generations.

The Clearwater Osteoarthritis Study

This study’s purpose was to identify risk factors that increase the chance of getting osteoarthritis. ARIA has studied such factors as injury, obesity, occupation, heredity, diet, and other personal lifestyle factors. Clearwater, Florida was chosen as the focal point of the study because of it has a significantly larger aging population than most of the rest of the US. Clearwater us a forerunner of what this country and much of the world will look like in the decades to come.

Finding the answers…

  • Are you susceptible to osteoarthritis?
  • Do genes help or hinder the likelihood of getting osteoarthritis?
  • If you injure yourself when younger, will you develop osteoarthritis when you are older?
  • Do certain foods or supplements help in the prevention of osteoarthritis?

A letter from our president, Dr. John Barrett Jr.

The early 1980’s were an exciting time to be in medicine. As a young practicing orthopedic surgeon, the advances being made to treat late stage osteoarthritis energized me. The total knee and total hip replacements were being used with great success. Many people who had been previously crippled by osteoarthritis were able to enjoy active lifestyles thanks to these advanced procedures.

But there were other areas of medicine to be excited about, too. The Framingham Study data was being released and the effect on public health in America was staggering. Those forward-thinking physicians who started the Framingham Heart Study in 1948 were now able to scientifically prove what many practicing cardiologists intuitively knew. That is, that life style can, and does affect heart disease. In fact, they armed us with knowledge that we could modify our lifestyles and delay or even prevent the onset of heart disease. Previously, it was thought that heart disease was just a consequence of getting older. Something we would just have to live with. Now, we know that’s just not so. And it got me thinking. If we can prevent or delay the onset of heart disease, why can’t we do the same for osteoarthritis?

The question dogged me day and night. And the answer was clear. We can undertake the same sort of community based study to uncover the risk factors for osteoarthritis. We don’t have to settle for getting osteoarthritis just because we are advancing in age. And so, the Clearwater Osteoarthritis Study was born.

Twenty-five years later we have over 3,700 participants in this epidemiological study. We’ve published findings in prestigious peer reviewed medical journals like Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, Rheumatology and Annals of Epidemiology, just to name a few. We house the world’s largest library of serial X-rays of the hands, knees, feet and neck. We are close to completing this landmark study. But so much work remains to be done.

I hope you’ll join me, The Clearwater Osteoarthritis Study volunteer and our family of over 25,000 advocates across the country in support of this important medical research. This Web site will help you learn more about our work and how you can help. Our future is bright.

Wishing you and your family the best health,

John P Barrett Jr. MD

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