A recent osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis study indicates a direct correlation between local and systemic joint- and neuroinflammation and the activation of mast cells that amplify an existing imbalance between subchondrial bone and cartilage. Since an abundance of evidence suggests that inflammation may contribute to reduced function in and damage to the joints and bones, patients suffering from rheumatic and joint diseases would benefit from treatments that target osteoarticular structural elements with the intention of slowing the progress of the disease, rather than simply treating its symptoms.
What’s at Stake?
As modern life expectancies increase, degenerative joint diseases are becoming increasingly prevalent. In fact, it is estimated that osteoarthritis will be one of the top four leading causes of disability by the year 2020. The statistic is concerning because—aside from the discomfort, and reduced mobility associated with the ailment– approximately 25 percent of people suffering from the debilitating disorder cannot function normally and need assistance to perform daily tasks. Roughly half of patients who have chronic rheumatoid arthritis are completely unable to work within ten years of diagnosis.
Current models of therapy focus on symptomatic relief, rather than addressing the mechanism and progression of the disease. Evidence indicates that there is an ongoing “cross-talk” and imbalance between the patients’ cartilage, subchondral bone, synovia, matrix, blood vessels, and nerve endings, as well as elevated mast cell involvement with the microglia—all of which contributes to neuroinflammation of the spine. Bone lesions, thickening, and microcrystalline arthropathies may precede injury to a patient’s cartilage or trigger articular mast cells, which then create inflammation in the process of restoring inner tissue equilibrium. In short, there is an ongoing interplay between the bone, cartilage and joint systems that create and sustains an inflammation/pain/damage loop. Treating the symptoms of degenerative and rheumatic disease provides relief and may reduce or slow the degradation of cartilage, but such treatment is insufficient to improve the patient’s long-term prognosis.
Addressing the Structural Elements
Research of new therapies that target the patients’ osteoarticular structures may assist in slowing the progress of joint and rheumatic disease and can help reduce the contributing neuroinflammation and degradation or thickening of cartilage and bone. A fully articulating dynamic spine model is a three-dimensional research tool that allows you to visualise and feel the interplay between the bone and joint structures and interpret the effects of each upon the other. Manipulation of the spine model can provide insight into the unique dynamics of your patient’s articular disorder and assist you in developing appropriate therapies that will help to delay the need for joint replacement and potentially the progression of disease.