National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
What Research Is Being Done on Osteoarthritis? continued...
Exercise and weight reduction
Exercise plays a key part in a comprehensive treatment plan.
Researchers are studying exercise in greater detail and finding out just how to
use it in treating or preventing osteoarthritis. For example, several
scientists have studied knee osteoarthritis and exercise. Their results
included the following:
- Walking can result in better functioning, and the more you walk, the
farther you will be able to walk.
- People with knee osteoarthritis who are active in an exercise program feel
less pain. They also function better.
Research has shown that losing extra weight can help people who
already have osteoarthritis. Moreover, overweight or obese people who do not
have osteoarthritis may reduce their risk of developing the disease by losing
weight. A NIAMS-funded study is investigating the use of regular aerobic
exercise in people with osteoarthritis of the knee to determine if standard
guidelines for cardiovascular fitness may be useful for the treatment of early
osteoarthritis as well.
Researchers are studying the effectiveness of a variety of
different types of treatment. These include:
Drugs to prevent joint damage: No
treatment actually prevents osteoarthritis or reverses or blocks the disease
process once it begins. Present treatments just relieve the symptoms.
Researchers are looking for drugs that would prevent, slow
down, or reverse joint damage. Drugs under study include:
- doxycycline, an antibiotic drug that may stop certain enzymes known to
damage cartilage. A recent clinical trial found that doxycycline had a
modest effect on slowing the rate at which the joint space narrows in the knee.
The trial also found that people who were taking doxycycline experienced joint
pain less often than those who were not.
- the bisphosphonate drug risedronate: In a recent British study of
several hundred people with mildto-moderate osteoarthritis of the knee, those
treated with risedronate showed a clear trend toward reduced symptoms and
improved joint structure.
More studies are needed for both drugs.
Estrogen: In studies of older women,
scientists found a lower risk of osteoarthritis in those who had used oral
estrogens for hormone replacement therapy. The researchers suspect that having
low levels of estrogen could increase the risk of developing