University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine researchers are studying why South Side residents tend to endure knee and hip pain, rather than seek joint-replacement surgery.
Also, the study focuses on the experience and perception of primarily Hispanic patients with osteoarthritis and their interactions with primary-care physicians.
“The purpose of this research project is to understand social, cultural and socioeconomic factors that influence an adult individual’s decision to seek medical care when they are sick, injured or feeling pain,” said Roberto Fajardo, who is leading the project in collaboration with Matthew Morrey, an orthopedic surgeon at Ortho San Antonio.
“A driving force behind our study is to understand why Hispanic patients are choosing procedures to treat osteoarthritis that are truly less successful in reducing pain, rather than opting for procedures that are much more successful,” Fajardo said. “On average, 15 to 30 percent fewer Hispanic patients than their non-Hispanic or white counterparts opt for knee- or hip-replacement surgery.”
Fajardo holds a doctorate from Stony Brook University in anthropological sciences. He joined UIW in 2018 after working nine years in the Department of Orthopedics at UT Health San Antonio.
Anil Mangla, former director of public health and associate professor of biomedical science at UIW’s osteopathic school, noted the probe fits perfectly with the institution’s mission to “serve people who live on the South Side, where the school is located.”
This UIW campus is at 715 Kennedy Hill Drive.
“When you have osteoarthritis, there really are only two treatment lanes available to the patient – meds to reduce pain or knee- or hip-replacement surgery. For patients 65 years of age and older, Medicare is the biggest payer in the country for treatment for OA. It will pay 100 percent for joint-replacement surgery,” Fajardo said.
The study is designed to determine the reasons South Side residents historically reject the procedure.
“We want to know why the disparity,” Fajardo said. “So, we’re focusing on people who live in San Antonio City Council districts 3 and 4 as a starting point. Those districts have large numbers of Hispanic residents.”
Fajardo and his colleagues are conducting face-to-face interviews with patients there. The team also has an online questionnaire for residents.
The survey is at https://tinyurl.com/ref8ds5.
Osteoarthritis affects 27 or more million Americans — a number expected to more than double in 10 years, physicians said. It’s the leading cause of disability in older adults and the most common joint disorder in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
OA is caused by a breakdown of cartilage. Without the cushiony substance, bones rub together causing pain and stiffness. The condition occurs most frequently in knees, hips and hands. Over time, osteoarthritis can lead to damage in ligaments and muscles, severely disabling sufferers.
The prevalence of osteoarthritis increases with age. An estimated 30 to 50 percent of those 65-plus deal with this malady, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information and National Institutes of Health, and the numbers worsen for Hispanics versus Anglos.
Fajardo said the goal is to contact some 360 patients. Once achieved, data will be analyzed and results published.