Fernandes JC, Martel-Pelletier J, Pelletier JP. The role of cytokines in osteoarthritis pathophysiology. Biorheology. 2002;39(1-2):237-46.



This article is a mouth-full to read because of the terminology. However, don't get bogged down by the "big words" because the message is an extremely important one. The bottom line is that the disease process of osteoarthritis is part mechanical and part enzymatic/chemical "wear and tear." The mechanical part is like sand paper on wood whereas the chemical part is like acid dissolving everything and anything with which it comes in contact.

What the article stresses is that there is a critical balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory molecules that leads to appropriate maintenance of the rubbery cartilage matrix. For those not familiar with the term cartilage matrix I analogize cartilage to Jell-o with fruit in it. The fruit represents the cells and the matrix, produced by the cells, is the Jell-o. The rubbery nature of the matrix affords the cartilage the ability to cushion. Once the cartilage cells cannot maintain a healthy amount of matrix the amount of cushion in the joint decreases. When cushioning decreases to a critical level pain ensues along with the development of bone spurs and joint deformation. Perhaps you have seen someone limping with knobby knees that are extremely bowed. That's osteoarthritis.

The take home message is that in order to battle osteoarthritis we must control the destructive molecules that are involved in dissolving the joint cartilage. Through diet, exercise and supplements Healthy Joints for Life outlines a program that attempts to protect the joints from this destructive process.