Osteoarthritis can potentially be prevented with a good diet and regular exercise, an expert review published in the Nature Reviews Rheumatology reports.
During the review, researchers from the University of Surrey identified a crucial link between metabolism and osteoarthritis. Metabolic changes, caused by a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, trigger's the genetic reprogramming of cells in the body and joints. Such metabolic changes impact upon the cells' ability to produce energy, forcing them to generate alternative sources to function. The stress this places on cells leads to the overproduction of glucose, which when not used for energy transforms into lactic acid, which is difficult for the body to flush out. Abnormal levels of this acid in the body leads to inflammation of the joint's cartilage which impedes movement and causes pain.
By identifying metabolic changes in cells, it is potentially possible to control or significantly slow down symptoms of osteoarthritis, alleviating the suffering of millions of people. This debilitating condition disproportionately affects post-menopausal women who are more predisposed to the condition because of biology, genetics and hormones. Currently there is no effective treatment for this painful ailment, with only painkillers available to treat symptoms and no known cure.
Lead author Professor Ali Mobasheri, Professor of Musculoskeletal Physiology at the University of Surrey, said: "For too long osteoarthritis has been known as the 'wear and tear disease' and it has been assumed that it is part and parcel of getting older. However, this is not the case and what we have learnt is that we can control and prevent the onset of this painful condition.