More than 250 million people worldwide suffer from knee osteoarthritis. More than half will wind up needing knee replacement surgery.
But researchers are proving diet and exercise can ease the pain and get people moving again without surgery or medication.
Knee pain had Cathryn Sages sitting on the sidelines.
"I was very much limiting my movement just so it wouldn't hurt," she said.
She joined a study at Wake Forest University for people suffering from knee osteoarthritis.
"The main symptom is pain, decrease in quality of life, decrease in mobility," Wake Forest professor of health and exercise science Dr. Stephen Messier said.
That first study found 10 percent weight loss combined with moderate exercise decreased pain by more than half.
"We found that for every 1 pound of weight that you lose was 4 pounds of stress on your knees," Messier said.
Carolyn Archie lived with knee pain for more than 10 years before joining the study.
"I've lost about 22 pounds," she said. "It's amazing."
The combination of diet and exercise let Archie get on the elliptical machine.
"Less weight on my joints is a great thing," Brad Zabel said.
Zabel says working out regularly and watching what he eats means a lot less ibuprofen. And when Carlene lost 14 pounds, she was able to get off her blood pressure meds.
The second study showed better outcomes.
"Twice the weight loss, twice the effect," Messier explained. "A minimum of three times a week exercise for at least 40 to 60 minutes."
"I'm not saying you have to run a marathon, but you can walk around the block," Sages said.
These studies are proving a little movement can keep you moving.
Study participants follow a calorie-restricted diet and do a 20-minute walk followed by 15 minutes of strength training, and then another 20 minute walk.
The studies are funded by the National Institutes of Health, and the hope is this program will be implemented in health systems nationwide.
BEATING KNEE OSTEOARTHRITIS
BACKGROUND: Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the primary symptoms of arthritis. Any joint in the body may be affected by the disease, but it is particularly common in the knee. Knee arthritis can make it hard to do many everyday activities, such as walking or climbing stairs. It is a major cause of lost work time and a serious disability for many people. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but there are more than 100 different forms. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the knee. It is a degenerative,"wear-and-tear" type of arthritis that occurs most often in people 50 years of age and older, but may occur in younger people, too. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the knee joint gradually wears away. As the cartilage wears away, it becomes frayed and rough, and the protective space between the bones decreases. This can result in bone rubbing on bone, and produce painful bone spurs. Osteoarthritis develops slowly and the pain it causes worsens over time. (Source: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/arthritis-of-the-knee)
OSTEOARTHRITIS PREVENTION: If you are at a healthy weight, maintaining that weight may be the most important thing you can do to prevent osteoarthritis. Obesity is clearly a risk factor for developing this disease. Data from the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a program of studies designed to assess the health and nutrition of Americans, showed that obese women were nearly four times as likely as non-obese women to have osteoarthritis. If the muscles that run along the front of the thigh are weak, research shows you have an increased risk of painful knee osteoarthritis. Fortunately, even relatively minor increases in the strength of these muscles, the quadriceps, can reduce the risk. To strengthen quadriceps, Todd P. Stitik, MD, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, recommends isometric moves and wall slides. Suffering a joint injury when you are young predisposes you to osteoarthritis in the same joint when you are older. Injuring a joint as an adult may put the joint at even greater risk. Although no specific diet has been shown to prevent osteoarthritis, certain nutrients have been associated with a reduced risk of the disease or its severity. (Source: https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/osteoarthritis-prevention-1#1)
POTENTIAL TREATMENT COULD STOP KNEE OSTEOARTHRITIS: Scientists at the Krembil Research Institute have developed a therapeutic treatment that has the potential to stop knee and spine osteoarthritis in its tracks. A team led by principal investigator, Dr. Mohit Kapoor, Arthritis Research Director at University Health Network says, "This is important because there are currently no drugs or treatments available to patients that can stop osteoarthritis. Current treatments for osteoarthritis address the symptoms, such as pain, but are unable to stop the progression of the disease. The blocker we've tested is disease modifying. It has the ability to prevent further joint destruction in both knee and spine." Utilizing a variety of experimental models, including animal models and human tissue samples, the Krembil team zeroed in on a biomarker, or molecule, called microRNA-181a-5p, which is believed to also cause the inflammation, cartilage destruction and collagen depletion. In addition to testing with animal models, the research team applied this approach using cells and tissues from Toronto Western Hospital patients who have knee and/or spine osteoarthritis. Next steps for the research team include commencement of safety studies, determining proper dosage and developing a method for injecting the blocker directly into the knee and spine joints. (Source: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-10-potential-treatment-knee-spine-osteoarthritis.html)