Osteoarthritis (OA) is caused by the gradual degeneration of cartilage in the joints. OA most commonly develops in weight-bearing joints, like the hip, knee, ankle and spine, although it can also develop in the shoulder, wrist and hand. Rates of OA in weight-bearing joints are rising dramatically in Canada and around the world. This is due to increasing rates of obesity (which loads more force on the joints than they are designed to bear), and decreasing levels of physical activity (which nourishes the cartilage and helps maintain a healthy weight). OA can also develop when injury compromises proper joint function.

Ten per cent of Canadians are currently living with diagnosed OA. Many are managing with the help of pain medications, low-impact physical activity and weight loss. As the disease progresses, however, they may require joint replacement surgery. New clinical studies of cartilage regeneration therapies are, however, showing promise.

Mobility Project researchers are analyzing the biomechanical factors–such as gait pattern and muscle activation during walking–that may pre-dispose people to developing OA of the knee. By learning more about how OA develops, they aim to develop early intervention strategies that will slow down its progression.

The Arthritis Society provides public education and support and information for people with arthritis (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis). The society also supports research into the prevention, treatment and cure of all forms of arthritis.