As the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis affects 2,1 million (9%) of Australians (according to Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014-15, National Health Survey). Over the age of 45, 1 in 5 (21%) people have OA, a notably sharp increase (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare).
It is possible to misdiagnose OA, because skeletal fluorosis (a bone disease caused by excessive intake of fluoride) can cause symptoms and degenerative changes that mimic OA. Recent studies point out that in contrast to previous beliefs, fluoride can cause OA, outside of fluorosis being present.
The similarities in symptoms are often overshadowed by the similarity in physical degeneration that occurs in both OA and skeletal fluorosis. Skeletal fluorosis causes bony outgrowths (i.e., osteophytes), degradation and calcification of cartilage, osteosclerosis, and reduced space between the joints — commonly occurring in osteoarthritis, including osteoarthritis of the spine (spondylosis).
Fluoride intake has been proven to cause skeletal fluorosis, and recent studies show that skeletal fluorosis can cause OA itself (Luo 2012; Su 2012; Bao 2003; Savas 2001; Tartatovskaya 1995; Chen 1988; Xu 1987). To quote the researchers in a very convincing study, “the osteoarthritis caused by fluorosis differs from ordinary osteoarthritis in severity rather than in nature” (Bao 2003).
Alarmingly, research has also shown that fluoride can cause OA prior to there being any physical evidence (as traditionally seen in x-ray examination) of skeletal fluorosis. It is now apparent that the assumption that arthritic symptoms could not occur before physical evidence, was incorrect.