An Interview with Dr. Elaine Husni and the Cleveland Clinic’s Arthritis & Musculoskeletal Center
Elaine Husni, MD, MPH
Vice Chair of Rheumatology and Director of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Center at Cleveland Clinic
1. What is your interest in the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance?
I have found that the OAAA’s rigorous networking has been outstanding and enlightening. The hard work of this group and its success in getting the word out about OA on the provider education, public policy, and patient facing materials has been phenomenal. There is tremendous talent in the staff and stakeholders giving me much optimism in joining efforts to conquer such a debilitating disease.
2. What do you think is the most important issue today related to osteoarthritis?
I believe in empowering our patients to learn that they can make a difference living with osteoarthritis. With the internet, “Dr. Google” is prevalent and many myths exist. Education, education, education can lead to a better understanding of osteoarthritis and provide our patients with the tools to learn about engaging in safe, effective physical activity, self-management strategies, injury prevention, and weight management. I find much of our practice is education in OA, and I see unnecessary suffering for patients that began seeking care much later in their disease course.
I also want patients to seek medical help and get diagnosed properly. There are so many different types of arthritis and related musculoskeletal issues, and it is important to understand what you have and sometimes multiple issues can affect your joints.
Teaming up with the OAAA also allows easy access to state-of-the art information for both patients and providers to connect with each other. This has been helpful to show patients where they can get information or how providers can find useful resources in one place regarding all things OA.
3. How does your work connect to issues in osteoarthritis?
We believe that an interdisciplinary approach to musculoskeletal issues such as OA can produce better outcomes. It is unlikely that OA occurs in isolation from other medical issues in both the diagnosis and treatment phases. Early on we want to help with proper diagnosis; and working closely with orthopaedists, rheumatologists, and physiatrists to be able to address all issues that may affect the joint may be important. We also work closely with musculoskeletal radiologists, brace technicians, and physical therapists which are all located in the same vicinity as our Center.
4. What is a headline you’d like to see about osteoarthritis in five years?
There hasn’t been a new drug to treat osteoarthritis in 20 years. I would like to see clinical research being conducted on new drugs to help treat osteoarthritis.
Data on the impact of aggressive risk factor modification to improve health outcomes in patients with OA
Emphasis on wellness strategies for OA. Lifestyle and behavioral changes are hard habits to change. However, prevention strategies can keep people living with OA stronger, more resilient, and improve their quality of life.
5. What is one interesting fact you’d like people to know about you ?
Arthritis in general terms represents the breakdown in cartilage leading to the deterioration of joints. With this information we want to be the “one stop shop” for anything arthritis!! In our Arthritis Center, we have a team of rheumatologists, office-based orthopaedists and physiatrists who work together to make the best treatment decisions and help push the envelope to improve care of patients with musculoskeletal conditions including OA. Musculoskeletal medicine can be optimized with a team science approach. Since osteoarthritis affects more than 32 million adults in the U.S., I think it is important to realize that combining many disciplines can help treat patients with osteoarthritis in a more personalized way. And, it is valuable to include many different aspects of care to help determine the best treatment option for patients with osteoarthritis.