The study results revealed that the smokers were more than twice as likely to have significant cartilage loss than the non-smokers. According to researchers, reasons that may explain the link between smoking and cartilage loss include:
- Smoking may disorder the cells and deter cell production in cartilage.
- Smoking may raise levels of toxins in the blood, contributing to cartilage loss.
- Smoking may increase carbon monoxide levels in the blood, affecting blood oxygenation, which could impede cartilage repair.
The smokers also had higher pain scores than the non-smokers. The researchers suggest, since cartilage does not have pain fibers, increased pain may not be caused by cartilage loss. However, smoking may impact other structures in the knee or may have an effect on pain perception.
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