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Knees and Arthritis

Updated: Apr 25, 2021

Exercise helps prevent cartilage damage caused by arthritis.

Many of us may have been told that we have arthritis in our knees because we actually used our knees, to play sports, run, jump, climb, etc. It turns out that is not true. According to science we don’t have arthritis in our knee because we ‘used’ our knee for living our life and doing those things that we love to do physically.

In fact, exercise helps to prevent the degradation of cartilage caused by osteoarthritis, according to a study from Queen Mary University of London.

The researchers show for the first time how mechanical forces experienced by cells in joints during exercise prevent cartilage degradation by suppressing the action of inflammatory molecules which cause osteoarthritis.

The study, published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, demonstrates the benefits of exercise on the tissues that form our joints and how this is down to tiny hair-like structures calledprimary cilia found on living cells. During exercise the cartilage in joints such as the hip and knee is squashed. This mechanical distortion is detected by the living cells in the cartilage which then block the action of inflammatory molecules associated with conditions such as arthritis.

Mr Su Fu, Ph.D. student at Queen Mary University of London and study author, said: "We have known for some time that healthy exercise is good for you—now we know the process through which exercise prevents cartilage degradation."

So, if you ran marathons and you ended up with arthritis in your knee, and someone else ran marathons and didn’t end up with arthritis in their knee….how come? It’s time to ask.

It’s time to find out. In the next series of posts we’ll explore why.

Exercise helps prevent cartilage damage caused by arthritis. Su Fu (MD) et al, Mechanical loading inhibits cartilage inflammatory signaling via an HDAC6 and IFT-dependent mechanism regulating primary cilia elongation, Osteoarthritis and Cartilage (2019).

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