In knee OA, the joint surface begins to break down. This joint surface is normally covered with cartilage, the firm material at the bone ends that acts as a cushion against shocks. As the cartilage of an OA sufferer’s joint wears away, the bone ends may begin to rub against each other, causing pain.
The importance of reducing excess joint load
Research shows that knee OA can begin or progress if the joint is exposed to excess stress or load1,2, which can result in pain and loss of motion. Several conditions can lead to joint overload, including anatomy, injury, or obesity. When too much load is placed on a joint, the progression of joint disease can lead to painful knee OA.3,4,5,6,7. Restoring the joint to normal loading conditions may relieve pain while maintaining healthy cartilage8.
The goals of OA treatment include minimizing pain, restoring normal activity levels, and slowing disease progression. While drugs and certain cartilage repair procedures may temporarily relieve pain, they often do not treat the underlying problems that led to OA. Although some invasive surgical procedures can effectively reduce joint stress, they often involve permanent changes to the joint’s natural anatomy, which may limit future treatment options.