One of the biggest problems with treating osteoarthritis is that scientists still don’t understand the process of cartilage degeneration. This makes it very difficult to find a cure. However recent research is suggesting the bone underneath the cartilage plays an important role and they have actually managed to stop the cartilage degeneration- in mice anyway!
Joints are where two bones meet. They are held there and made to move by tendons, ligaments and muscles that pass across them. In between, on either end the two bones, is articular cartilage which cushions and protects the bone from impact. Cartilage has no nerves but bone does so without the nerveless cartilage it would be painful when we moved the joint. When you get cartilage degeneration the shock absorption is reduced and this means the bone ‘feels’ the movement and you feel pain.
Researchers at John Hopkins have come up with a radical new theory why cartilage degeneration occurs. Up to now it was thought it was due to trauma (either direct or repetitive), instability of the joint, genetic influences but they have found the bone underneath the cartilage may play a role. They suggest when the joint is irritated by the trauma or whatever, the bone responds by creating new bone just underneath the cartilage. This stretches the cartilage, making it weak and so it wears faster.
How Does This Change the Treatment of Cartilage Degeneration?
The researchers have identified the protein which regulates the production of this new bone and have also found how to block it’s production. This means that if the bone no longer reacts the cartilage wears MUCH slower and it may even halt the progression on the cartilage degeneration.
What Could This Mean for Current OA Sufferers?
All good if you are in early stages, not so good if your cartilage degeneration is severe as they can’t replace the lost cartilage yet. Also this is still a few years away being available to people so in the mean time it is continue on with what you are doing!
If you want to know how to manage the pain from your OA please sign up for my free course. It won’t stop your cartilage degeneration but should help you reduce the pain and have a better quality of life….