Source: The Examiner

(LAS VEGAS, Nevada) — Injury to joint tissues used to be thought of in primarily mechanical terms. Torn ligaments led to instability; a torn meniscus led to arthritis, both from the window wiper effect of the tissue in the joint and the force concentration from losing the shock absorber; impact injuries led to bone and cartilage death.

We now understand that this thinking was far too narrow. Papers presented at the 29th Meniscus Transplant Study Group meeting recently in Las Vegas demonstrated that when a meniscus tissue is torn, pro-arthritis enzymes and factors are released, which stimulate the synovial lining cells of the joint to go into overdrive. The tissues talk to each other. They are biologically, not just mechanically, active.

The enzymes and factors released into a joint after injury produce a degradative fluid. Degradative means that the compounds break down tissue, inhibit healing, cause swelling, and eventually arthritis. When people complain of joint swelling, the fluid is degradative and leads to more injury over time. Healing occurs when the swelling resolves and the body lays down new tissues.

This new biologic understanding of tissue injury is now leading to novel approaches to repair. Most importantly, injured tissues need prompt repair. Left unrepaired, they continue to stimulate the surrounding tissues, leading to the cycle of breakdown and arthritis.

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