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Papers of the Week

Papers: 9 Apr 2022 - 15 Apr 2022

2022 May

Clin Geriatr Med



The Genesis of Pain in Osteoarthritis: Inflammation as a Mediator of Osteoarthritis Pain.


Wood MJ, Miller RE, Malfait A-M
Clin Geriatr Med. 2022 May; 38(2):221-238.
PMID: 35410677.


Chronic pain is a substantial personal and societal burden worldwide. Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the leading causes of chronic pain and is increasing in prevalence in accordance with a global aging population. In addition to affecting patients' physical lives, chronic pain also adversely affects patients' mental wellbeing. However, there remain no pharmacologic interventions to slow down the progression of OA and pain-alleviating therapies are largely unsuccessful. The presence of low-level inflammation in OA has been recognized for many years as a major pathogenic driver of joint damage. Inflammatory mechanisms can occur locally in joint tissues, such as the synovium, within the sensory nervous system, as well as systemically, caused by modifiable and unmodifiable factors. Understanding how inflammation may contribute to, and modify pain in OA will be instrumental in identifying new druggable targets for analgesic therapies. In this narrative review, we discuss recent insights into inflammatory mechanisms in OA pain. We discuss how local inflammation in the joint can contribute to mechanical sensitization and to the structural neuroplasticity of joint nociceptors, through pro-inflammatory factors such as nerve growth factor, cytokines, and chemokines. We consider the role of synovitis, and the amplifying mechanisms of neuroimmune interactions. We then explore emerging evidence around the role of neuroinflammation in the dorsal root ganglia and dorsal horn. Finally, we discuss how systemic inflammation associated with obesity may modify OA pain and suggest future research directions.