Researchers have identified a molecular mechanism central to the development of osteoarthritis (OA) pain.
The finding from researchers at Rush University Medical Center, in collaboration with researchers at Northwestern University, could have major implications for future treatment of this often-debilitating condition.
“Clinically, scientists have focused on trying to understand how cartilage and joints degenerate in osteoarthritis. But no one knows why it hurts,” said Dr. Anne-Marie Malfait, associate professor of biochemistry and of internal medicine at Rush, who led the study.
Joint pain associated with OA has unique clinical features that provide insight into the mechanisms that cause it. First, joint pain has a strong mechanical component: It is typically triggered by specific activities (for example, climbing stairs elicits knee pain) and is relieved by rest. As structural joint disease advances, pain may also occur in rest.