Effects of changes in joint alignment and loading on cartilage in humans

One in ten Canadians suffers from osteoarthritis, a debilitating and painful disease caused by cartilage degeneration in joints. Abnormal load on the cartilage or some part of it caused by poor joint alignment or obesity can lead to loss of cartilage, which does not usually regenerate on its own. However, it has been shown that cartilage can repair itself following surgery, although the conditions to ensure re-growth are unknown and the reasons for success or failure over the long-term are poorly understood. Using non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, Agnes d’Entremont is assessing cartilage health and knee movement in bow-legged patients before and after they have high tibial osteotomy, a surgery to correct their joint misalignment. Agnes aims to define the best conditions for protecting cartilage and promoting repair. The research could increase understanding of osteoarthritis, improve surgical outcomes, and lead to better treatments.