Experiencing joint pain when performing everyday tasks can be quite debilitating, yet millions of people around the world suffer from joint pain. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis worldwide, and it is generally one that develops with old age, as the natural wear-and-tear of the joint leads to joint damage, which makes it very difficult to prevent. It is common knowledge that being of a healthy weight assists in preventing the condition, as it limits stress on weight-bearing joints. However, according to a new report, osteoarthritis may be linked to what we eat and our metabolism.
Current understanding of osteoarthritis is that it is caused by the deterioration of cartilage found at the joint, whether it is in the hands, knees, hips, or spine. The purpose of cartilage at these locations is to permit the cushioning of the impact that occurs throughout a normal day, but over time, this layer of padding becomes thinner and thinner, eventually becoming non-existent, leading to bone-on-bone friction and eventual damage. The pain and stiffness this degenerative disease causes often leads those affected to suffer from limited movement, preventing them from working or even performing simple tasks like buttoning up a shirt.
A new report by researchers from the University of Surrey UK has linked our metabolism to osteoarthritis. The human metabolism encompasses the chemical reactions that occur within the body to produce energy. The cells found in our tissues and organs rely on glucose found in the diet in order to maintain our metabolism, and it can also pull glucose from reserves in the body when needed. If an individual were to have abnormalities causing a poor metabolism, it could put stress on the cells, leading to overproduction of glucose which then transforms to lactic acid. According to the researchers, this change can trigger genetic reprogramming of cells in the joints, leading to osteoarthritis.
The overaccumulation of lactic acid can lead to inflammation of the joints in the body, impeding movement and causing pain. It is very difficult for the body to flush out lactic acid, which is why this is such an important discovery. We need to identify metabolic changes in cells, as it will potentially aid in controlling or significantly slowing down the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
“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,” said lead author Professor Ali Mobasheri, professor of musculoskeletal physiology at the University of Surrey.
Our metabolism is controlled by what we eat and how active we are. The researchers stress not to underestimate the significance of a healthy diet and lifestyle, as the metabolic behavior of our cells, tissues, and organs depend on them to maintain optimum functioning.