Pain from osteoarthritis (OA) affects millions of people worldwide, yet treatments are limited to acetaminophen, NSAIDs, physical therapy, and ultimately, surgery when there is significant disability. In recent years, our understanding of pain pathways in OA has developed considerably. Though joint damage and inflammation play a significant role in pain generation, it is now understood that both central and peripheral nervous system mechanisms exacerbate symptoms. Evolving management strategies for OA address central factors (e.g., sleep difficulties, catastrophizing, and depression) with treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exercise. In addition, emerging data suggest that antibodies against peripheral signaling neuropeptides, such as nerve growth factor-1 (NGF-1), may significantly alleviate pain. However, concerns regarding potential adverse effects, such as rapidly progressive OA, still remain. A nuanced understanding is essential if we are to make headway in developing more effective treatments for OA.
Out of all 291 conditions studied in the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study, neck pain ranked 4th highest in terms of disability and 21st in terms of overall burden.