For the first time, Researchers have moved beyond just pain relief in treating osteoarthritis (OA) and have come up with a way to treat cartilage damage as well. They believe that Bisphosphonates, a class of drugs commonly prescribed for osteoporosis, which work by inhibiting cells called osteoclasts that break down bone, may work for osteoarthritis too by inhibiting the activity of osteoclasts in the bone beneath the cartilage in affected joints.
While animal studies have so far proved that bisphophonates can reduce OA progression – as measured by the severity of cartilage damage and bony overgrowth – by as much as 30–40%, limited clinical research suggests bisphosphonates—whether taken orally or injected – may indeed be helpful for both relieving pain and reducing cartilage damage in people with OA.
Moving beyond pain relief
Scientists have assessed joint space narrowing – a sign of OA progression – and bone marrow lesions, which are predictive of more rapidly progressing OA.
In an observational study of 55 patients taking bisphosphonates and 268 nonusers, published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases in 2013, researchers found that treatment with bisphosphonates over a period of two to three years was associated with both a reduction of osteoarthritis pain and less joint space narrowing. In a 2012 study published in the same journal, researchers compared the effects of a single infusion of zoledronic acid with placebo in 59 people with knee osteoarthritis and bone marrow lesions. They found that after six months, patients taking zoledronic acid not only had reduced pain scores, but magnetic resonance imaging scans showed a reduction in the size of their bone marrow lesions.
Perhaps the most promising news about the potential of osteoporosis drugs for OA comes from a 2013 Belgian study of a drug called strontium ranelate, which is approved in Europe but not the US. Strontium ranelate is a dual-action bone agent, which means it inhibits bone-destroying osteoclasts much like a bisphosphonate while also increasing activity of bone-building cells called osteoblasts.
#Osteoporosis #Osteoarthritis #JointPain #BoneHealth #Arthritis