At first glance, arthritis and Parkinson’s disease don’t seem to have much in common.
But a new study in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, reveals a surprisingly strong connection between these two diseases—and suggests a possible treatment for both.
Inflammation is closely involved in the development and progression of osteoarthritis, and neuroinflammation is one of the defining characteristics of Parkinson’s disease.
Because an increasing number of studies have reported a link between inflammation elsewhere in the body and Parkinson’s, the Taiwanese authors of the new study thought that having osteoarthritis may increase our risk of developing Parkinson’s.
To test this idea, they mined Taiwan’s National Health Insurance system for health data from people who had osteoarthritis before developing Parkinson’s.
They found 33,360 people who had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis between 2002 and 2005. They were all between 50 and 64 years old, with an average age of 57. Two thirds of them were women.
They matched these patients on age and sex with 33,360 people who had not had osteoarthritis to create a control group with whom to compare the osteoarthritis sufferers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, osteoarthritis sufferers were generally unhealthier, with more co-occurring conditions like coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
The researchers observed the osteoarthritis group for an average of 7.7 years and the control group for around 8.7 years.
After this period, they drew some definite conclusions.
1. In general, people with osteoarthritis were 41% more likely than their non-arthritic peers to develop Parkinson’s.
2. This risk was especially elevated in people with knee or hip osteoarthritis, which increased their Parkinson’s risk by 55%. The non-knee or hip osteoarthritis sufferers had an increased risk of 42%, and the uncategorized sufferers had an increased Parkinson’s risk of 32%.
3. Women with osteoarthritis had a 57% greater chance of developing Parkinson’s than women without osteoarthritis, although the researchers could not find such a clear relationship among men.
4. The age of the participants made no difference in the strength of the relationship between the two conditions.
5. People with osteoarthritis were also more likely to die of Parkinson’s than those without osteoarthritis.
The authors attributed this relationship to at least three factors.
1. People with osteoarthritis have lots of inflammatory chemicals in their bodies, which can cause and exacerbate neuroinflammation in their brains.
2. People with osteoarthritis have low levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps to produce both dopamine and a protein that protects neurons from damage.
3. People with osteoarthritis are physically less active because they are in pain, and physical exercise can protect against neuroinflammation.
Therefore, the researchers were right. As an inflammatory condition, osteoarthritis can cause or worsen the neuroinflammation that is involved in Parkinson’s disease.
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to reverse arthritis. Thousands of readers have done so using the simple lifestyle changes found here…