Osteoarthritis can start with overuse. It can also be post-traumatic, starting with a crack or divot in the cartilage seen as a space between the bones on an x-ray such as the one on the left shown here.
As osteoarthritis progresses, there is much more to the process than just wear and tear. The internal environment of the knee changes. It becomes catabolic. A catabolic environment degrades cartilage cells one by one, so that the progression from a low grade of arthritis to a high-grade (seen on the right above) happens. What is happening is that the lining of the knee (synovium) becomes unhealthy and produces fluid, possibly to lubricate the joint at first. Unfortunately, with this fluid comes bad actors that now live inside the knee. That is what creates the catabolic environment that accelerates the arthritis. Classic examples are particles that are biochemical mediators. For example, interleukin (IL) chemicals (IL-1 and IL-6) in the joint fluid create an inflammatory and catabolic environment that breaks down the cartilage cells faster than you can re-make them. Another example is matrix metalloproteinases or MMPs, also in the joint fluid. As the joint gets worse, it gets worse biochemically as well, creating a vicious cycle. If this does not stop you could end up with a joint replacement.
There is good news about osteoarthritis, or OA, that we can discuss in clinic. The main new thing is that we now have the ability to stop some of these catabolic processes and preserve more of your joint cartilage, keeping your knee, hip or ankle as good as possible. We can concentrate cells from bone marrow or isolate positive, protective cell-signaling mediators from your blood. You now have more control over how your osteoarthritis does or does not progress.
There is a caution here, however. Despite the great promise of new therapies, there are places and products that are inferior or even fraudulent, and you can find these in seminars, advertisements and the like. We would highly encourage you to be skeptical and to come in and talk with us before you spend any of your hard-earned money.