Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name



Physical Therapy


Jean-Philippe Berteau

Subject Categories

Physical Therapy




In the United States, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common chronic illness in the adult population affecting an estimated 27 million individuals with a yearly health care cost of over $150 billion (CDC, 2014; Lawrence et al., 2008). The pathological osteoarthritic process results in the progressive degradation of articular cartilage due to chemical and biological imbalances within a joint (Weiland et al., 2005). These imbalances are not well understood and neither are the biomechanical joint changes that occur as a result. Due to these limitations, treating and monitoring this condition is a challenge to clinicians and the processes are currently inefficient.

The purpose of this targeted literature review is to identify the main factors contributing to OA, identify the state of the art in diagnosis and physical therapy treatment in OA and to identify the role of animal models in OA research. To accomplish this, 76 peer reviewed journal articles on the relationship between musculoskeletal biomechanics and osteoarthritis have been selected for analysis. Articles were generated from search criteria with key words osteoarthritis, diagnosis, physical therapy, and animal model from the following databases: PubMed, Cochrane Library, ISI Web of Knowledge, and Academic Search Complete.

In conclusion, it was found that OA is a multifactorial disease leading to joint failure from abnormal biomechanics, however the exact pathogenesis remains unknown. There is also no quintessential diagnostic tool for OA, however WOMAC score reporting is recommended to monitor patient progress. For conservative treatment, there is also no gold standard protocol but a multimodal approach is necessary to optimize the loading on the pathological joint. Non-invasive animal models will be essential for the future of intervention research regarding OA to assess disease onset and progression in an attempt to translate these findings into a human population.