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The Art in Science

Product Image Ode to a Bum Knee

Ode to a Bum Knee

Lindsey Lammlin, Graduate Student (Maerz Laboratory), Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School

Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, can affect many joints, causing pain, swelling, joint instability and loss of mobility. Joint injury increases the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis; such post-traumatic osteoarthritis accounts for 10-12% of all osteoarthritis cases. In the knee, injury damages the articular cartilage, a tissue that normally forms a smooth surface at the ends of the bones to allow them to move against one another. After injury, the cartilage can become inflamed and break down, allowing the bones to rub together painfully. In the knee, in addition to articular cartilage, a specialized ring of cartilage called the meniscus helps keep the joint moving smoothly. In this image of a mouse knee, the triangular region is the meniscus, separating the femur (left) from the tibia (right). Using mouse models of joint injury, it is possible to carefully follow the course of the structural degeneration as well as the inflammatory process that accompanies the development of post-traumatic osteoarthritis, with a goal of learning how to therapeutically intervene in this painful process.