Knee osteoarthritis is a common condition that is often associated with ageing. However, it appears genetics also play a large role in the development of the disease.
After trying to determine why more women experience knee osteoarthritis than men, researchers have now identified genetic changes within the meniscus. These changes reportedly increase the risk of the condition in 50% of women.
So, what does this new research mean for women and how might it help in the treatment of the condition? Discover everything you need to know below…
Understanding the latest research
The study into why women are more susceptible to meniscus damage was carried out by researchers in Canada. The researchers took cells from male and female patients who had meniscus damage and used them to bioengineer meniscus tissue.
They analysed the tissue to see how it functioned during rest and under unloading and loading conditions. To test loading function, a device was used to place hydrostatic pressure onto the cells. To test unloading function, a Nasa designed bioreactor was used to replicate a low gravity environment.
Low gravity conditions replicate the damage that can occur to the meniscus through a lack of exercise. A selection of female genes that were discovered to respond more to these conditions, were also associated with knee osteoarthritis.
How will this research help women worldwide?
This new research uncovers the mechanisms involved in a higher response. It has revealed the potential for a blood test to identify the high-risk gene in women. This in turn would help with early intervention, such as providing physiotherapy.
The researchers also revealed they are hoping to use the findings to develop new drugs that would block the responses by targeting relevant pathways.
Current treatments for knee osteoarthritis
Currently, patients suffering with knee osteoarthritis have several treatment options. The disease is known to progress over time, which typically results in patients requiring a total knee arthroplasty. However, there are treatments to help slow down the progression, as well as eliminate the symptoms of the condition.
Lifestyle changes such as losing weight and exercising more may help to ease pain and improve mobility. Patients can also receive Cortisone injections to keep pain at bay while they await a knee replacement.
For patients looking to reverse the damage caused and avoid any unpleasant side effects, MBST is a great option. Short for Magnetic Resonance Therapy, MBST uses electromagnetic energy to target the damaged tissue and regenerate it. The treatment has shown impressive results for knee osteoarthritis, though it may not be the right option for everyone.
Overall, women are more susceptible to meniscus damage and this new study shines some light on why that is. It could lead to developments in new treatments moving forward.