Why haven’t we cured arthritis? – Kaitlyn Sadtler and Heather J. Faust

Why haven’t we cured arthritis? – Kaitlyn Sadtler and Heather J. Faust

While regaling you with daring
stories from her youth, it might be hard to believe your
grandmother used to be a trapeze artist. However, the bad backs, elbow pain,
and creaky knees so common in older people is more than just “old age.” In fact, the source of this stiffness
plagues many young people as well. The culprit is arthritis: a condition that causes inflammation
and pain in the joints of over 90 million people
in the U.S. alone. But are stiff, creaky joints
really inevitable? What makes arthritis so pervasive, and why haven’t we found a cure for
this widespread condition? The first hurdle is that arthritis
is actually a spectrum of over 100 different arthritic
conditions. All these conditions share symptoms
of joint pain and inflammation, but the origin and severity of those
symptoms vary widely. Even the most common type,
osteoarthritis, is trickier to prevent than
one might think. It’s a general misconception that
arthritis is confined to old age. The origins of osteoarthritis can often
be traced to a patient’s early life, from any seemingly ordinary joint injury. Following impact, immune cells rush in
to help clean and repair the damaged site and begin pumping out enzymes, including matrix metalloproteinases
and aggrecanases. These enzymes clear out the damaged
tissue and contribute to inflammation. But while this rapid swelling helps
protect the joint during recovery, inadequately healed tissue can cause these
immune cells to overstay their welcome. The continuing flood of enzymes starts
to degrade the cartilage, weakening the joint and leading
to arthritis later on. Not all forms of arthritis can simply
be traced to an old sports injury. Take rheumatoid arthritis, which
affects 1.3 million U.S. adults. This condition is actually an
autoimmune disease in which autoantibodies target
natively produced proteins, some of which are secreted
by cartilage cells. We still don’t know what
causes this behavior, but the result is that the body treats
joint tissue like a foreign invader. Immune cells infiltrate the joint despite
there being no tissue damage to repair. This response leads to chronic
inflammation, which destroys bone and cartilage. Yet another condition,
spondyloarthritis, has similarities to both of the
conditions we’ve covered. Patients experience continuous
inflammation in the joints and at the sites where ligaments and
tendons attach to bones, even without any initial injury. This leads to the flood of enzymes and
degradation seen in osteoarthritis, but is driven by different inflammatory
proteins called cytokines. As the enzymes eat away at cartilage, the body attempts to stabilize smaller
joints by fusing them together. This process sometimes leads to
outgrowths called bone spurs, which also cause intense stiffness
and joint pain. With so many factors causing arthritis, our current treatments are tailored
to tackle specific symptoms rather than underlying causes. These range from promising
MACI techniques, which harvest cells from small pieces
of cartilage to grow replacement tissue. To a technique called microfracture, where surgeons create small
holes in the bone, allowing bone marrow stem cells to
leak out and form new cartilage. As a last resort, people with withered cartilage can
even undergo full joint replacements. But outside these drastic measures, the underlying drivers of
autoimmune arthritis still present a unique
treatment challenge. Scientists are making progress with
therapies that block TNF-alpha, one of the primary proteins causing
inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. But even this approach only treats the
symptoms of the condition, not the cause. In the meantime, some of our best defenses
against arthritis are lifestyle choices: maintaining a healthy weight to
take pressure off joints, low-impact exercises like yoga or cycling,
and avoiding smoking. These arthritis-fighting behaviors
can help us lead longer lives as we continue to research
cures and treatments for the huge diversity of
arthritic conditions.


76 thoughts on “Why haven’t we cured arthritis? – Kaitlyn Sadtler and Heather J. Faust”

  • I'm 59 and just starting to get some in my hands and now I think my knee. It's really hard because I have MS, osteoporosis and fibromyalgia and some other issues, this just adds on. I am hopeful for some cures but also depressed…

  • Rebecca E. Webber says:

    I was able to develop a plan using specific foods and suppliments to get my husband into remission from Junior Idiopathic/Rhumetoid Arthritis. He was heavily medicted from age 12 to 27. He's been doing well for over 3 years with no need for meds and no sign of arthritis or autoimmune on any scans or blood work. Stay strong everyone! There is hope to be found.

  • Why haven’t they cured arthritis?? Well I’ll tell u why!! Jus like all other cancer n diseases.. theres no money in cures theres money in treatment!! That’s y!!

  • My dad has rhomboid arthritis and we are still trying to find a medication that helps him and I had been wondering why it was so difficult to treat, thank you for explaining so well!

  • For some reason I never thought of arthritis as something to be cured before. I’ve only thought of managing and going into remission. I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis at 11 after spinal reconstruction (and hip and ankle surgery simultaneously). I was in near constant pain for 4 years until I went vegan, started exercising, grew into my spirituality, and changed to Cosentyx. I feel so blessed. Now I’m highly active, almost pain free, and am off all but one medications. By the grace of God.

  • I have severe Arthritis in every single joint in my body, well except the knees and hips, they're fake. Somehow though the bilateral hip and knee replacements are swollen too. Every time I go to a Doctor they say that can't be right. I think they now look at me and my body changes the rules on what's possible.
    Every one else calls me a bludger… Armchair medico's, no knowledge, no certificate, no training and no brains.

  • Esteban Castellino says:

    weight and impact makes sense but I'd like to know how smoking affects joint pain.
    note: not being sarcastic, I'd really like to know.

  • TedEd I was literally researching rheumatoid arthritis in biology a few days ago!! xD really informative and enjoyable video as well 🙂

  • I tore both my ACLs in high school and now I’m a sophomore in college and I routinely squat close to 500 pounds. Should I be worried about arthritis in the future?

  • I've had rheumatoid arthritis since I was 2 years old, I'm now 23 and learned to live with it. But I'm shocked by the number of people that know nothing of the disease, especially the ones that assume only old people have it.

  • apart from quitting smoking, keeping a healthy weight and exercising, you can also… drink more! it has been found that people who drink are less likely to develop arthritis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2898190/

  • Not one word about diet or that you can actually reverse arthritis with a whole foods plant based diet. 🙁

  • Jaffar Abdul Baqi says:

    One way to approach this problem is by the science of Macrobiotics.
    Extensive studies should be carried out to find countries or regions that suffer the least from arthritis and study history of the syndrome to find out when and where it started to manifest significantly etc.
    Then draw conclusions as to what foods, life style, or climate influence its spread.

  • You have spoken well. I am just hoping that we have an accurate understand of the problem.
    I think you should check this out https://youtu.be/AzLTJ8BT-Nc

  • I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when I was only 18 months old, 
    it took my parents and doctors months to figure out what's going on;
    it then became stable for 19 years – 
    but now it comes back to me ._.

  • Take stress off joints by keeping muscles strong and stretched.
    Less pressure on the pain point will help.
    43 construction worker with several surgeries including 2 spine breaks. What works for may not for you but it's common sense.

  • Going to the gym isn't going to prolong your life. Instead, it is going to make it much harder in your old age.
    Live a normal healthy lifestyle and live longer and happy just like our grandparents did.

  • I was diagnosed with juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at 1 years old, I'm now 21! Medication to help symptoms have come a long way but I'm hopeful for the future so kids don't have to go through all the pain I did as a child

  • Kenneth Scherer says:

    A lot of human illness today is probably what kept us alive 100,000 years ago. Is this a normal response in other mammals? Is this a normal response in life farther removed from us than mammalian? Evolution is not survival of the fittest ("fittest" doesn't sound like a good word to me), evolution is simply reproduction. That is the goal, that is the purpose. What keeps you alive long enough to have babies?

  • SurrealKangaroo says:

    I have arthritis in my toes because my legs aren’t the same length. It can hurt really bad sometimes. I’m not even 30, so I cannot imagine how bad it’s going to be when I’m old.

  • Physical therapy and the correct type and amount of exercise are extremely helpful for pain relief and prevention of further damage especially in cases of osteoarthritis. There are millions of research studies devoted to this treatment approach. I wish I could see the work of physios more highly regarded in the medical community since PT/physic is significantly cheaper than surgeries mentioned in this video, is a less risky option, and often can be just as effective.

  • I used to be a softball player for a year and it was the best cause I really love to be active. It was summer when I was 11 when I noticed my left knee is swollen but it doesn't hurt. It was kinda uncomfortable cause when I'm standing I feel this bulge in my knee. Then after 2 days, I can't walk. It hurts so much. Then after a month it was my hand, my wrist, my finger and my elbow. In just one year. At 15, I can't anymore stretch all my fingers, my elbow, can't even bend my hand, and the worst part is my right leg that joint between my hip and leg. It's the worst. I can't walk and stand for too long. Now, my back is the one acting it always hurts cause of my improper way of standing and walking. I can't seem to explain this to other people but I'm glad they don't ask me why I look like this and all but I know they know something is wrong. Sometimes I wish I was dead. I envy those people who can do all these things I can't do. I've been trying to find people who's like me but I didn't find anything. I'm only 24 now and I'm afraid I won't make it 'til I'm 50.

  • Some years ago I had an accident and had to have surgery to get well. During the operation the surgeons saw that I had quite severe arthritis in several places. During rehab I met a really good doctor to talk about this. The one single thing he stressed was the importance of not becoming sedentary. And running, he said, was a lot better than swimming etc as it put stress on the joints and would lead to them getting better. First though I had to start proper strength training, lifting weights etc, in order to become strong enough in my knees, legs, back etc to be able to run and maintain good posture. So I did that while slowly increasing my mileage. A couple of years ago I started running barefoot. Today, the only times I experience any pain in my joints, back etc is when I have not been able to work out or run for some time, due work or being sick. As soon as I start again it only takes a few workouts and runs before the pain disappears. Physical exercise is literally the best cure for many of these conditions. However, one needs to start slowly and increase gradually, otherwise there is a risk of overuse injuries.

  • I'm korean, I want to know if this sentence has grammatical error.
    However, the bad backs, elbow pain, and creaky knees so common in older people is more than just “old age.”
    I think "is" should be changed to "are".
    Is it right?

  • Pratiksha Gwalwanshi says:

    Hey Ted-ed
    I don't only enjoy watching your videos I also learn a lot. Your videos are crisp and so to the point. They explain the concepts in a much easy language and so almost everyone understands them. My mother has been lately diagnosed with arthritis and this video helped me a lot to understand this to a greater extent. I even would definitely love to share these uploads with my friends and family but the only problem is that they understand hindi and not english. Thereby I request you to also upload these kind of videos in hindi too. It would be a great help.

  • I am translating this video into Arabic for TED-ED and hoping to be useful for all Arabic speakers and others who are interested in.

  • Ted-ED: Why haven't we cured arthritis?

    Me, after being in my room for several days instead of actually doing anything: I don't know

  • Is there any evidence that most arthritis is largely due to our modern diet, especially refined grains and sugar? My guess is that it’s similar to cancer in that arthritis is rare in today’s indigenous cultures that still follow a mainly pre-agriculture or Hunter-gatherer diet.

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