A new cause of osteoarthritis has been discovered as part of research that could help drastically reduce cases of the condition.
U.S. researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine found that osteoarthritis is driven by low-grade inflammation. This contradicts the previously held view that it is brought on by joint wear and tear.
Dr. William Robinson of Stanford states this could help reduce cases of the painful condition, by targeting the inflammatory processes that occur early on in development of osteoarthritis, which affects 27 million people in the U.S. Eventually, this might make the condition preventable in the future. Dr. Robinson explains:
“It’s a paradigm change. People in the field predominantly view osteoarthritis as a matter of simple wear and tear, like tires gradually wearing out on a car.”
Robinson added that osteoarthritis is also commonly related to joint traumas such as blowouts, a tear in the meniscus, a cartilage-rich, crescent-shaped pad that serves as a shock-absorber in joints.
Osteoarthritic joint tissues are host to a greater number of migratory inflammatory cells. These cells secrete substances and inflammatory proteins that worsen the condition, though according to Robinson:
“[…] not nearly as much as in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, which is clearly an autoimmune disease, but enough to make us wonder if inflammation is also a major player in osteoarthritis as well.”
The findings were published in the latest edition of Nature Medicine journal. Only last month, scientists discovered a diet heavy on Omega-3 fatty acids helped to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis.