Arthritis

Updated 12 January 2016

Cartilage gives early warning of arthritis

Damage to the tissue that cushions joints occurs even before people feel pain, research shows.

0

Exercise-related damage in cartilage can help identify people with the earliest stages of osteoarthritis, a new study reveals.

The findings could improve early detection of osteoarthritis and could also be used to improve methods of repairing damaged cartilage, said study senior author Alan Grodzinsky, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and colleagues.

Read: Common knee surgery may lead to osteoarthritis and loss off cartilage

For the study, the researchers developed a method that identifies osteoarthritis-related changes that occur in cartilage in response to high-load activities such as running and jumping.

Cartilage is firm, rubbery tissue that cushions bones and keeps them from rubbing together.

When osteoarthritis begins to develop, the ability of cartilage to resist physical-activity-related impact is reduced. This is now known to be due to the loss of molecules called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs).

Read: Exercise to ward off aches and pains

Using their new system, the researchers found that GAG-depleted cartilage loses its ability to stiffen under the forces of high-load activities.

GAG loss also caused an increase in the depletion of fluids from the cartilage, which likely reduces protection against the impact of high-load activities.

Read: Knee cartilage regrown

The findings show how GAG loss at the earliest disease stages reduces the ability of this tissue to withstand high-load activities, according to the study, which was published in the Biophysical Journal.

"This finding suggests that people with early degradation of cartilage, even before such changes would be felt as pain, should be careful of dynamic activities such as running or jumping," Grodzinsky said in a journal news release.

Osteoarthritis affects about one-third of older adults and is the most common type of joint disorder.

Read more: 

What is rheumatoid arthritis? 

Alternative remedies for joint pain 

Can the weather cause joint pain?

 

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Arthritis expert

Professor Asgar Ali Kalla completed his MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 1975 at the University of Cape Town and his FRCP in 2003 in London. Professor Ali Kalla is the Isaac Albow Chair of Rheumatology at the University of Cape Town and also the Head of Division of Rheumatology at Groote Schuur Hospital. He has participated in a number of clinical trials for rheumatology and is active in community outreach. Prof Ali Kalla is an expert in Arthritis for Health24.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules