Many kinds of arthritis can affect the knee joint but by far the most common is osteoarthritis which is a prevalent and disabling disease affecting an increasingly large swathe of the world population. The etiology of osteoarthritis is multifactorial. While clinical osteoarthritis is a late-stage condition for which disease-modifying opportunities are limited, osteoarthritis typically develops over decades, offering a long window of time to potentially alter its course.
This occurs when the joint surface cartilage becomes worn away leaving the raw bone beneath exposed. The cartilage normally serves as a “pad” or a bearing in the joint. When the bearing wears away the result is a roughed joint surface that causes the pain and stiffness that people associate with osteoarthritis.
Characterizations of pre-osteoarthritic disease states are critical to support a paradigm shift from palliation of late disease towards prevention, through early diagnosis and early treatment of joint injury and degeneration to reduce osteoarthritis risk.
As part of the Osteoarthritis Initiative, Sharma and colleagues had provide the study to reveal if MRI features can predict worsening knee symptoms and joint damage in group of individuals considered to be at high risk for development of osteoarthritis.
The investigators found that MRI findings of cartilage damage, bone marrow lesions, and meniscal tears at baseline were associated with increased frequency of knee pain and increased incidence or persistence of joint symptoms at later follow-up.
These findings suggest that MRI may be able to identify early and perhaps minimally symptomatic lesions in osteoarthritis which could target early treatment and prevent it progression.
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