Tag Archives: osteoarthritis

MRI scanning to detect arthritis

A new type of MRI scanning could help doctors detect arthritis at an earlier stage, allowing them to treat it more successfully, according to a new study.

Normal MRI imaging is usually not powerful enough to detect early damage being caused by osteoarthritis.

However, researchers at New York University have found that more advanced scanning can be used to reveal small changes in the structure of joint cartilage.

Scientists believe this type of scanning could eventually be used by specialists to spot the early signs of osteoarthritis in young patients and help provide better treatment for arthritis.

MRI scanning

MRI scanning

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and the majority of Irish people over 55 years of age have some degree of evidence of the condition in their joints.

The researchers say new scanning techniques are now accurate enough to enable detection of subtle joint changes that can point to future osteoarthritis.


According to Arthritis Ireland, “it is unlikely that MRI or advanced MRI would be used to detect osteoarthritis in Ireland in the short-term as the cost and accessibility to these advanced scanners is prohibitive. However, this situation will hopefully change in the future.”

The research was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

The cost of Musculoskeletal conditions

Healthcare costs associated with musculoskeletal conditions, such as arthritis and osteoporosis, are much higher than those associated with other conditions, a new study suggests.

Musculoskeletal is a term used to describe any condition that affects the muscles, bones and joints. There are over 150 known musculoskeletal conditions, the most common of which include lower back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.

Currently in Europe, up to 80% of all healthcare costs are related to chronic conditions and musculoskeletal conditions make up a big proportion of these. Dutch researchers decided to look into this further.

They assessed almost 9,000 people to see what conditions they had and what impact these conditions had on their overall healthcare costs. The participants had a range of conditions, including musculoskeletal, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, skin conditions and mental health problems.

Their total healthcare costs were calculated for a specified three-month period, adjusting for inflation when required.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis

Overall, one in five of the participants had a musculoskeletal condition and almost one in five had more than one condition.

The study found that healthcare costs were nearly 50% higher among people with musculoskeletal conditions compared to any other single occurring condition.


As expected, healthcare costs increased the more conditions a person had, however if one of these conditions was musculoskeletal in nature, this had a larger impact on total costs compared to other conditions.

For example, if a person had two non-musculoskeletal conditions, their healthcare costs were two times higher than a healthy person. However, if one of their conditions was musculoskeletal, healthcare costs were three times higher than a healthy person.

“It is clear that the cost of delivering care to those patients with musculoskeletal conditions is considerably higher than those with other diseases. In these economically challenging times, this research highlights a clear area of focus for policy makers where prioritisation of musculoskeletal disorders could result in longer-term cost efficiencies,” commented Dr Anjte Van Der Zee-Neuen of Maastricht University.

Details of these findings were presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress in Paris, France.