Obesity may also bring on osteoarthritis: Study


"We have isolated demographic and MRI-based risk factors for progressive cartilage loss," said the study's lead author Frank W. Roemer of Boston University School of Medicine.
"Increased baseline body mass index (BMI) was the only non-MRI-based predictor identified."

Tibio-femoral cartilage is a flexible connective tissue that covers and protects the bones of the knee. Cartilage damage can occur due to excessive wear and tear, injury, misalignment of the joint or other factors, including osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting 27 million Americans, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
In osteoarthritis, the cartilage breaks down and, in severe cases, can completely wear away, leaving the joint without a cushion. The bones rub together, causing further damage, significant pain and loss of mobility.

The best way to prevent or slow cartilage loss and subsequent disability is to identify risk factors early. "Osteoarthritis is a slowly progressive disorder, but a minority of patients with hardly any osteoarthritis at first diagnosis exhibit fast disease progression," Roemer said.
Researchers examined 3,026 people, aged 50 to 79 years, at risk for osteoarthritis or with early x-ray evidence of the disease.

Excess weight was significantly associated with an increased risk of rapid cartilage loss. For a one-unit increase in BMI, the odds of rapid cartilage loss increased by 11 percent. No other demographic factors-including age, sex and ethnicity-were associated with rapid cartilage loss.
These findings are slated for publication in the August issue of Radiology.

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