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Metabolic Syndrome, Knee Osteoarthritis, Cartilage Degeneration

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Interesting new study showing that metabolic syndrome increases the rate of cartilage breakdown in knee arthritis.
Indian J Orthop. 2020 Jul 24;54(Suppl 1):20-24.

This particular study is really interesting because we need to start thinking about osteoarthritis progressively more and more as a biochemical process, as a biologic process, and not just as a structural process. Eventually there is structural damage but what drives that are biochemical and biologic processes at the level of the joint and throughout the body. You can actually work on these variables with nutrition, supplements, exercise, and if needed Regenerative Medicine procedures.


I frequently talk about how metabolic syndrome is a problem for joints. So metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that when they occur together, increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and type two diabetes. So these cluster conditions include elevated blood pressure high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride or fatty content in the blood. Significant because if you have metabolic syndrome, I frequently talk about how that makes you more prone to inflammation, which then makes you more prone to joint and tendon related problems.

So how does that really translate in a practical manner? And do we have evidence that that can really affect arthritis? It turns out, yes we do. A recent study published in the Indian Journal of Orthopaedics took a look at people that have knee osteoarthritis, and took a look at this specific question about how on a biochemical level does metabolic syndrome affect knee osteoarthritis. They essentially analyzed two different biochemical markers that you see in cartilage health. One is a biochemical marker of cartilage degeneration and another is a biochemical marker of cartilage regeneration. They found that between these two groups one with metabolic syndrome, one without metabolic syndrome, both with knee osteoarthritis, that there was no difference in the level of cartilage regeneration biomarker. However, the degeneration biomarker was higher in the metabolic syndrome patients. That is interesting and significant.

This shows on a biochemical level how metabolic syndrome may be impacting cartilage health and joint health. Also, frequently we think when it comes to treating your joints/tendons, your arthritis/tendonitis, we think of it as very much just a structural issue. We think of it as how do you improve the strength of the muscles. We also think of bones as very static tissue. That’s not really accurate. These are dynamic processes, and they can get better and worse over time. And rather than think of arthritis and tendonitis in a static manner, and as a linear two dimensional physical process only, we should be thinking of it as an inflammatory process, as a biochemical process as well, and realize that there’s other ways to treat these kinds of issues.

This particular study is really interesting because we need to start thinking about osteoarthritis progressively more and more as a biochemical process, as a biologic process, and not just as a structural process. Eventually there is structural damage but what drives that are biochemical and biologic processes at the level of the joint and throughout the body. You can actually work on these variables with nutrition, supplements, exercise, and if needed Regenerative Medicine procedures.

So really interesting study. And to me, it gives another angle about how we need to think about osteoarthritis and joint issues. And it also helps to explain why metabolic syndrome is a problem for people that have osteoarthritis, in particular of the knee, but really osteoarthritis in general. That kind of insight lets us help people in more ways. It allows us to think about how can we be preventative when it comes to knee osteoarthritis. Well, it’s by working on some of those metabolic syndrome and biochemical issues.

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