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October 2019 (Vol. 4 Issue 8)

Is arthritis a bacterial infection from a 'bad gut'?
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Is arthritis a bacterial infection from a 'bad gut'? image

Is there a link between a 'bad' gut and arthritis? Researchers have noticed that bacteria from the gut can infect an artificial knee and hip—but aren't sure whether they also attack the actual joints that cause the usual arthritic symptoms in the first place.

Making sure someone's gut microbiome—the environment of good and bad bacteria—is healthy before surgery could reduce the risk of infection of the artificial joints, say the researchers from Cornell University.

Post-surgery infection is rare and affects only 1 per cent of patients—but as one million Americans opt for knee or hip replacement surgery every year, that still means around 10,000 get infected from 'bad' bacteria.

But preparing the patient with a course of probiotics before surgery could reduce the risk of infection, the researchers say.

But they left unanswered the bigger question: do 'bad' gut bacteria infect the joints and cause all the disabilities of arthritis. So instead of being a disease of 'wear-and-tear', as every sufferer is told, osteoarthritis and its many derivatives could actually be caused by bacterial infections.


References

(Source: Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, 2019; 1: doi: 10.1097/CORR.0000000000000851)

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