On Your Knees!

Regular readers of SRxA’s Word on Health have heard from time to time about my knee problems. For those of you just joining us, it’s a long sorry tale of injuries that originated during my Olga Korbut wannabe days as a pre-teen gymnast, that were exacerbated by years of marathon running and more recently resulted in surgery following a dog-induced injury!

As I write, I’m recovering from having just had my knee drained and preparing to undergo a series of rooster comb injections to alleviate the pain and swelling of the latest flare-up.

Naturally then, I was interested to hear about a new US – Canadian study which intends to explore whether the nagging knee pain and inflammation experienced by women is different from what men encounter and whether biological differences between men and women affect the incidence and severity of knee osteoarthritis.

Mary I. O’Connor, M.D., chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Florida, will be the study’s principal investigator.

Osteoarthritis, characterized by the breakdown of cartilage in the joint resulting in stiffness and pain, is the most common form of arthritis. It affects approximately 27 million Americans and is more common in women than men.

According to Dr. O’Connor, “Knee osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability in the U.S. and women have greater pain and reductions in function and quality of life from this condition than do men.”

While the underlying mechanisms for differences in knee osteoarthritis between men and women are not yet known, recent studies have indicated sex differences at the cellular and molecular levels may influence development of the disease. This study will examine a variety of human tissues normally discarded during total knee replacement surgery performed for severe osteoarthritis. The tissues will be analyzed for possible differences in pain fibers and hormone and vitamin D receptors between female and male patients.

The team hopes that the results will provide valuable clues for more effective treatment and possible prevention. Hopefully this will benefit not only yours truly, but also the multitudes of women who suffer from the constant pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis of the knee.