According to research presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego, California, the changes in bone structure to determine if risedronate, which prevents fractures and increases bone density in postmenopausal osteoporosis patients, might halt or reverse the bone destruction associated with the loss of cartilage and thus decrease the risk of joint collapse.

One hundred patients were randomly selected from treatment groups of 300 individuals already experiencing joint space narrowing due to knee osteoarthritis. The groups, which received either placebo or doses of risedronate in 5 mg per day, 15 mg per day or 50 mg once per week, were followed for a two-year period. Using standard radiographs, a novel computational technique analyzed changes in trabecular bone structure beneath the cartilage in patient’s knees, that had been sub-grouped into those with either little or no or advanced joint space narrowing.

Over the study period, in patients with progressive joint space narrowing, high doses of risedronate halted and even reversed trabecular bone loss. Those administered placebo or 5mg did not show any benefit in this aggressive disease subset. Patients with no progression in their joint space narrowing had a modest loss of bone structure regardless of treatment.

“Risedronate, when administered in high doses, can preserve underlying bone for those patients with marked joint space narrowing,” summarizes J. Christopher Buckland-Wright, PhD, Professor of Radiological Anatomy, King’s College London, London University, and senior investigator in the study. “Any medical therapy that can delay ultimate joint destruction and stave off the need for joint replacement surgery is well worth exploring for patient treatment.”; Source: American College of Rheumatology