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Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent type of arthritis and affects 1 in 10 Canadians according to the Arthritis Society, and affects men and women equally.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis and it is a leading cause of long-term disability as it causes difficulty with movement and severe pain.
Researchers in Liverpool, England have identified a cause for osteoarthritis and published their study in the Journal of Anatomy. The discovery was made as they were studying the hip of a man with a rare genetic condition known as alkaptonuria, where a substance called homogentisic acid builds up and changes physical properties of joints.
The study revealed the presence of high density mineralized protrusions (HDMP) which were only seen in horses before. These protrusions occur as the body tries to fill in the spaces where there are cracks in joint cartilage, and can end up breaking off, causing parts of the joint to grind against healthy tissue, and causing pain.
The researchers confirmed their findings by studying the hips of other people who had osteoarthritis and found this occurred in their hips too.
The discovery of HDMP’s in humans means that there is an understanding into how osteoarthritis develops. The study recommended that checking for high density mineralized protrustions be applied to any studies related to patients with osteoarthritis.
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