Background

Bone and joint diseases (also termed rheumatic diseases) are a frequent cause of referral to physicians (1/3 of consultations in general practice) and a major cause of longterm disability. Thus, in addition to patient distress, rheumatic diseases represent a major financial burden for the Society. Inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis are the most severe forms of rheumatic diseases affecting approx. 2-3% of the general population. Despite major therapeutic developments during the past decade, a large percentage of these patients do not respond favorably to new treatments. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disorder and the most frequent form of arthritis that is associated with progressive joint destruction and disability.
Currently, there is no treatment to stop the progression of osteoarthritis and for most patients surgical joint replacement is the only option.