Meniscal Damage, Knee Pain Not Related in Osteoarthritis
Posted May 18 2010 2:41pm
In a report to be published in the December, 2007 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, researchers conclude that meniscal damage is not directly related to knee pain in osteoarthritis (OA). The report, however, says that both tissue damage and pain are related to osteoarthritis.
The menisci are the “cushions” against joint cartilage damage in the knee. The loss of the function of this cushion has been recognized as a strong risk factor for knee osteoarthritis. Meniscal damage is commonly associated with aging, obesity and sports injuries.
Researchers with the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study investigated the effect of meniscal damage on the development of knee pain, aching and stiffness. For this study, they looked at 110 people with signs of osteoarthritis of the knee or who were at high risk of development of OA. This group was compared to a control group of 220 people who had no symptoms and did not develop any during the 15 month study.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), used because of its high sensitivity to detecting tissue changes, was performed at the beginning and end of the study. At the outset of the study 38% of the group with OA and 29% of the control group showed meniscal damage. The damage was more common in knees that had been operated on or had suffered serious injury in the past.
Researchers found a modest association between meniscal damage and the development of knee pain. However, the damage was mostly present in knees with evidence of OA. Based on stratified analysis using the Kellgren/Lawrence grading system, the researchers found no independent association between meniscal damage and the development of pain, aching or stiffness in the knee.
Dr. Martin Englund of Boston University, the research team spokesman, said that “any association between meniscal damage and frequent knee pain seems to be present because both pain and meniscal damage are related to osteoarthritis, and not because of a direct link between the two. The high prevalence of meniscal damage in the older adult knee and the weak association with knee symptoms suggest that any such discomfort may be self-limited and can be treated conservatively.”