Arthritis breakthrough: Research may have found a way to treat and even reverse arthritis

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The NHS describes osteoarthritis as affecting “the smooth cartilage lining of the joint. This makes movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain and stiffness”. They added: “Once the cartilage lining starts to roughen and thin out, the tendons and ligaments have to work harder. This can cause swelling and the formation of bony spurs called osteophytes.” Joints in the body most often affected by osteoarthritis include the hands, spine, hips, and knees. Osteoarthritis affects around nine million people in the UK, making a recent potential breakthrough in treatment seismic.

Researchers from Soochow University in China have discovered the sleep hormone melatonin could be used to treat or even reverse osteoarthritis.

In the past melatonin has been shown to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory affects, useful in the treatment of arthritis.

Researchers from Soochow recently published a study demonstrating how melatonin can prevent the breakdown of existing cartilage and encourage the growth of new cartilage.

Although positive, one caveat is the study was conducted on rabbits rather than humans; nevertheless, should the same results occur in human trials it could change the lives of millions of osteoarthritis patients globally.

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Publishing their findings in the journal Ageing Research Reviews, the team behind the study said their findings confirmed “melatonin may be a prospective treatment option for osteoarthritis”.

Speaking in response to the study, Professor Leela Biant of the University of Manchester said: “All cells, including cartilage cells, have a circadian rhythm of rest, repair, and work.

“Melatonin can influence the circadian rhythm of cells, as well as influence our sleep pattern. Although this research is preliminary, it may be a promising avenue for further investigation.”

As a result, more research is required to fully confirm the link between melatonin and an improvement in osteoarthritis patients.

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