Osteoarthritis affects tens of millions of seniors and can seriously threaten their mobility, but new research may offer some hope of an effective treatment. Scientists from Chicago's Rush University Medical Center believe they have identified a molecular source of the pain caused by osteoarthritis, which could open doors to finding methods of relieving the discomfort.
The study, led by biochemistry and internal medicine professor Dr. Anne-Marie Malfait, was unique in that it followed both the pain and sensory neurons of mice that had osteoarthritis in their knees. The research was unusual because rather than analyzing the breakdown in cartilage associated with the condition, the team noticed changes in the neurons. This new approach could result in different, more effective, treatment options.
"This is an important contribution to the field of osteoarthritis research," said Dr. Joshua Jacobs, the chairman of orthopedic surgery at Rush University Medical Center. "Rather than looking at the cartilage breakdown pathway in osteoarthritis, Dr. Malfait and her colleagues are looking at the pain pathway, and this can take OA research in to a novel direction that can lead to new pain remedies in the future."
Managing pain caused by osteoarthritis is one of the greatest challenges facing senior care providers, and by 2030 experts estimate as many as 70 million Americans will be living with the condition.