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Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most frequently occurring musculoskeletal diseases, posing a significant public health problem due to its impact on pain and disability. Traditional risk factors fail to account for all of the risk observed for OA outcomes. In recent years, our view of disease causation has broadened to include health risks that are created by an individual's socioeconomic circumstances. Early research into social determinants has focused on social position and explored factors related to the individual such as education, income and occupation. Results from these investigations suggest that low education attainment and nonprofessional occupation are associated with poorer arthritis outcomes. More recently, research has expanded to examine how one's neighborhood socioeconomic environment may be relevant to OA outcomes. This narrative review proposes a framework to help guide our understanding of how social context may interact with pathophysiological processes and individual-level variables to influence health outcomes in those living with OA.