Having high cholesterol is a known risk factor for heart-related problems, but can it increase joint pain?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form of arthritis. Often referred to as a “wear and tear” form of arthritis, it can lead to structural changes in the joints, immobility, and pain. Although osteoarthritis primarily affects the joints, it is also part of many other bodily systems, including metabolic syndromes.
Metabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of metabolic conditions including high cholesterol, hypertension, and insulin resistance. It is believed that osteoarthritis and metabolic syndrome are linked because both are seen in obese persons. But further study has found that osteoarthritis is not only found in weight-bearing joints, which reveals a possible further link to a metabolic factor.
In order to determine this link, researchers investigated the link between high cholesterol and osteoarthritis.
The study looked at 36 white rabbits, of which 16 received a high-fat diet and 20 received a normal diet. After 16 weeks, osteoarthritis was surgically induced in 10 of the high-fat diet rabbits and 10 of the normal diet rabbits. After 12 weeks of osteoarthritis induction, the researchers assessed the condition of the joints, cartilage, and blood lipid levels.
After six weeks of when osteoarthritis induction occurred, both groups of rabbit weighed the same. After the induction, those with osteoarthritis weighed less than those rabbits that did not have osteoarthritis. Most metabolic factors remained the same between the groups, but those on the high-fat diet had higher cholesterol levels.
High-fat diet rabbits with osteoarthritis had greater inflammation in the synovial cartilage, a higher degree of atherosclerotic cells, along with more vascularized cartilage. Fat cells were irregularly shaped in the osteoarthritis groups too.
The findings of the study suggest that there is a metabolic component to osteoarthritis and that it not only worsens in obese persons as a result of greater weight, but through inflammation triggers by metabolic factors. Therefore, it is important that in order to reduce progression of osteoarthritis, you also manage metabolic factors too, such as reducing your cholesterol levels and reducing weight.