Exercise to help prevent cartilage damage caused by arthritis.

Millions of people suffer the debilitating pain of arthritis, yet while we have known for some time that healthy exercise can help, researchers have now discovered the process through which exercise prevents cartilage degradation. A new study showed 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 explains how exercise can benefit the tissues that form our joints due to tiny hair-like structures called primary cilia found on living cells. The squashing of cartilage in joints such as the hip and knee during exercise is key, with the distortion detected by the living cells in the cartilage. They then block the action of inflammatory molecules associated with conditions such as arthritis.

The researchers suggest the findings may also explain the anti-inflammatory effects of normal blood flow in arteries, important for preventing arterial disease such as atherosclerosis and aneurism, while when it comes to preventing cartilage damage drugs may be possible to simulate the effect of distortion to prevent the damaging effects of inflammation and treat conditions such as arthritis. In the meantime, hit the gym and ‘use it or lose it’!

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