Early Test Could Prevent Arthritis

Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, affects more than 30 million Americans. There is no cure, but there are treatments that can help lessen the effects on a patient’s quality of life.

Soon doctors can use a new test to detect osteoarthritis before any symptoms appear. That means not only will you be able to get relief from arthritis pain, prompt intervention means you may be able to avoid most or even all of it. There are known risk factors for osteoarthritis, but this test can make a definitive diagnosis.

The new technique involves taking a sample of joint tissue and performing a biopsy, or examination, to look for biochemical indicators of disease known as biomarkers. The test only requires one drop of joint fluid

With this biomarker test, we can study the levels of specific proteins that we now know are associated with osteoarthritis. Not only does the test have the potential to help predict future arthritis, but it also tells us about the early mechanisms of arthritis, which will lead to better treatments in the future,” said James Cook, the University of Missouri researcher who led the team that discovered the technique.

The test was developed in arthritic dogs, whose joints are similar to those of humans. An estimated 90 percent of elderly dogs suffer arthritis. The test is already being used to help detect and treat the canine from of the disease.

Although the biomarker test is not yet approved for diagnosing arthritis in human beings, it is already employed to monitor the effectiveness of treatments, allowing doctors to home in much more quickly on the best intervention for each patient. That means that your doctor can quickly figure out which treatment is right for you specifically, and administer it sooner. That means less pain and more activity for osteoarthritis patients.

Cook hopes that the test’s ability to detect signs of developing osteoarthritis before it strikes and before any symptoms show will encourage people to make lifestyle changes that can arrest the progress of the disease. An overweight woman who loses just 11 pounds cuts her risk of osteoarthritis of the knee in half.

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