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Flare-ups of osteoarthritis: what do they mean in the short-term and the long-term?

Thomas, M.J.; Neogi, T.

Flare-ups of osteoarthritis: what do they mean in the short-term and the long-term? Thumbnail


T. Neogi


Symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA) evolve over years with variable rate and course. While studies have focused on understanding long-term trajectories of OA [e.g., 1 ], how these relate to shorter-term fluctuations in symptoms is not well-understood. Yet for many people, the lived experience of OA is recurrent fluctuations in episodic pain of varying frequency, intensity and duration; it is these episodes of increased pain and associated disability that often drive primary healthcare consultation. Historically, the term ‘exacerbation’ and ‘flare-up’ have been used interchangeably to describe sudden-onset episodes of increased pain; the term ‘flare-up’ has been adopted herein 2 . Patients describe flare-ups as being unpredictable and distressing, particularly in advanced stages 3 . Because of the recognized importance of flare-ups to the patient experience, there have been efforts to develop diagnostic criteria and consensus definition for OA flare-ups 4 , 5 , though a specific definition has not yet been widely accepted or validated. It is also important to differentiate between flare-ups and ‘complications’ that may result in symptoms (e.g., subchondral insufficiency micro-fracture), as treatment strategies will differ.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 15, 2020
Online Publication Date Jan 24, 2020
Publication Date 2020-07
Journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage
Print ISSN 1063-4584
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 7
Pages 870-873
Keywords Osteoarthritis; Flare-up; Pain
Publisher URL


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