Pain may be more than a symptom of osteoarthritis -- it could be an inherent and damaging part of the disease itself, according to a recently published study.
The study revealed that pain signals originating in arthritic joints, and the biochemical processing of those signals as they reach the spinal cord, worsen and expand arthritis. In addition, researchers found that nerve pathways carrying pain signals transfer inflammation from arthritic joints to the spine and back again, causing disease at both ends.
Pain is a patient's conscious realization of discomfort. Before conscious realization can happen, however, information must be carried along nerve cell pathways from an injured area to the pain processing centers in dorsal horns of the spinal cord, a process called nociception. There is now strong evidence that two-way, nociceptive "crosstalk" may first enable joint arthritis to transmit inflammation into the spinal cord and brain, and then to spread through the central nervous system (CNS) from one joint to another.
* Science Daily September 30, 2008