Researchers Find Link between Immune Function and Osteoarthritis Pain

Researchers Find Link between Immune Function and Osteoarthritis Pain

By Staff.

New research out of Canada shows that the immune system plays a key role in defining how much pain a person with osteoarthritis (OA) experiences and the progression of the disease. They hope their discovery may lead to new ways to manage joint pain and the immune system’s function.

Researchers from McMaster University, who published their findings in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, found that monocytes, the white blood cells necessary to regulate immune responses, were more activated and pro-inflammatory in women with osteoarthritis. They also found that elevated inflammation and body mass index were associated with this increased activation.

When compared with a control group, this combination created a perfect storm - one that was found to increase the pain and progression of knee osteoarthritis. The study involved 22 women with OA, and 22 women of the same age without OA.

“It is the first study, to our knowledge, to specifically characterize changes in circulating monocytes in individuals with OA compared to healthy women,” said senior author Dawn Bowdish, a professor of pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster, and member of the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging.

“We know that changes in monocytes contribute to the development of chronic inflammatory conditions. If we can target these monocytes in OA, we may be able to slow down disease progression or decrease the risk of other chronic inflammatory diseases,” she said.

Chronic inflammation and osteoarthritis has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression among adults with OA. While the cause of OA remains unknown, multiple factors contribute to its risk, progression and severity.

“We believe these findings are completely novel in the literature about the knees and OA,” said senior author Monica Maly, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo who was involved in the research while an associate professor of McMaster’s School of Rehabilitation Sciences. “It will form the basis for ongoing collaboration to explore this phenomenon in a larger sample.”

The researchers intend to take this knowledge and apply it to better understanding the impact of exercise on the health of older adults with osteoarthritis.

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Authored by: Staff

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I have been treated for chronic pain since 2005. Had asked for a decrease in my HCD to 7.5mg in October. Was doing well until 11/2/17 when I fell and broke my hip. Fell at 6:30, took a dose of my normal med, went by ambulance to ER. Declined pain med in ambulance. Arrived in ER at 9pm. Was waiting to get to my room, but took so long I asked for something for pain at 11pm. Now, had seen 2 doctors, but after 45 minutes, when I called again was told nothing was ordered, but they would ask! At 12am, just as I am NPO for surgery they bring me HCD 7.5mg and was told “and this is all you can have”.

The researchers have piled on that the phenomenon they discovered explains a linear cause and effect. They ignore an alternative explanation that the phenomenon is secondary to a more integrated primary process. An hypothesis inflated to a truth.


Monocytes apparently live in bone marrow and are recruited to travel through the blood to inflamed tissue. They also seem to play some role in allergies & food allergies.

I’m not a medical expert so I totally might be wrong with what I’ve said. I was browsing Google and had a look at some reputable-looking links.

I’d love to hear if anyone has more info or a correction to this. I’ve taken an interest because my IGe was 777 (my doc said normal is about 88) per a blood test and I understand that’s some sort of measure of allergic reactivity. I also developed multiple food allergies in adulthood (starting in my mid-20’s). My osteoarthritis started revving up in my 20’s but that may be absolute coincidence. My mother is disabled due to aggressive osteoarthritis that started when she was young (she said before her teens). She’s had two spinal surgeries and needs a cervical revision and revision for failed lumbar surgery. She also has allergies and has very reactive skin (breaks out in a rash for no apparent reason - might be a form of dermatographia like me but she’s not been evaluated for it).

I’d love to know more about this because my Google search also gave me results on food allergies (and maybe other allergies as well). I have very severe reactions to coconut and egg yolks. I have breathing issues with sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and spaghett squash (tested as “summer squash”). I have oral allergy syndrome reactions to nuts (I’ve got pollen allergies) and I tested positive to peanuts and have been instructed how to cautiously introduce them to see if they’re truly problematic (the processing with peanut butter seems to allow me to eat it, but raw peanuts may be different).

I tested positive to other foods but did not have to eliminate them (mostly class 1 apparently). I do carry an epi-pen. My first food allergy was barley (skin test + blood test by an allergist). That’s a food that typically is permitted in ELIMINATION diets! Lots of irony there.

If anyone has insight or similar experience, please share. Being educated helps me take better care of myself.


We should be looking for cures for oa and not just new and improved management.
This type of research does more good for researchers then oa sufferers. Isnt time researchers do more then discover something new.

Terry Longtin

I think you’ve hit on the ultimate future problem, pharmacists thinking they are doctors, let me rephrase that, your doctor. The insurance companies like Caremark for example, are creating a monopoly by only using CVS pharmacies for prescriptions. What this does is give CVS immense power over the consumer/patient . In other words they will be able to limit the amount of opioids prescribed to you, by YOUR DOCTOR! It’s starting to feel like a third world country, not the U.S. Pharmacists should have no more power than the counter person who sells you gum or a magazine, for example. Who do they think they are!? I don’t even want to hear their opinion about my medications let alone changing them because THEY feel they are dangerous or you’re taking too much. The government needs to step in and get control of this craziness, unfortunately they are overreacting to the so called opioid epidemic themselves. We have to get organized, write or email your congressman or senators. I have done so eight times and have received five responses. It’s going to take more than me though, get out there and investigate the twisted statistics and lopsided news stories, we have a voice and we shouldn’t be afraid to use, after all, we live in the greatest country in the world where our citizens can speak openly and protest without the fear of reprisals. So rise up and be heard. Let me know your thoughts with your comments. I’m going to be featured in an upcoming AARP Bulletin article on CRPS and pain management doctors reducing pain medication for chronic pain patients because the government has got everyone jumping through hoops and causing mass paranoia in the medical community. Send me your comments to and I will give you information I have found during my research. I’m not afraid to put my name and email address out there for everyone to see because it’s just too important to ignore. There is strength in numbers and somebody IS listening. Time to take an active role in your own life.

Care2 Pettitions is a site that you can sign petitions to help the chronic pain patient community
I did a search for Chronic pain patients -opoids and many have poped up
I have Faith that our signatures matter.
You can also start your own petition if you are denied or under-treated for pain.
Alan Edwards 2 nights ago I went through the same issue at the Pharmacy.
Thank you for article this is new info for me and with Knowledge is power

Alan Edwards

This may be a recent study but was already known..also ‘they hope it will lead to better treatments’ probably won’t happen.
Desperately seeking alte rnatives is fine but opioids and methylprednisonlone are still the gold standard for many causes of pain.
Unfortunately, the drug war continues. I was verbally attacked by an irate pharmacist who was spouting fda rules whilst claiming to ‘be looking out for my health’. She said I was in danger of respiratory arrest at any time. She wanted badly to attack me and get it off her chest.
Heart attack yes. Weak opioid and benzodiazepine no way.
I pointed out to her the thousands of far more dangerous medications they dispense daily like antidepressants. Especially those like amitriptyline which can destroy your life and put you to sleep forever. My battle getting off 27 years of failed antidepressants like amitriptyline, is unequalled but will never be reported or acknowledged by pharmacists or the fda. Sad times for all pain patients.