charity eam Mt OA eR Th Brace yourself Conducting crucial medical research to find the best treatments for osteoarthritis is something a team in Manchester are passionate about. Read on for more about their work words: Suzanne Carter o steoarthritis (OA) of the knee can cause significant pain and disability, and affects about one in 10 people over the age of 55 years. Current treatments focus on reducing pain and increasing mobility, but scientists are always looking for potential cures or more effective treatments. Research in Osteoarthritis in Manchester (ROaM) is a multidisciplinary team comprising doctors, imaging specialists, physiotherapists and biomechanics experts, and was established to try to identify novel treatments for OA. The group is also trying to improve the understanding of how existing treatments work, so that they can betargeted better at people who mightbenefit. Led by Professor David Felson, ROAM has close ties with local clinicians and primary care centres. Sofar, most of the research including trials of orthotics (knee brace/foot orthoses) and intra-articular steroid injections has been on patients with painful knee OA. Less pain Find out more about the exciting research in Manchester from ROaM by emailing ROaM@ manchester.ac.uk or calling 0161 306 0545/0547. Key findings from the teams brace study were that, when targeted to a particular type of OA behind the kneecap (patella-femoral OA), brace-wearing resulted in reduced pain andinreduced structural damage in theknee. In contrast to some studies where the brace has been difficult to wear the brace used in the trial was relatively light, and many patients found it comfortable. One of the concerns that many doctors have about brace therapies is that they may reduce muscle strength. The ROAM group, however, showed that over the course of the study brace wearing was not linked with any loss of muscle strength. In a trial of foot orthoses (shoe insoles), the team was able to illustrate differences in how they affected the knee during movement. Based on the results, ROAM has embarked on a new clinical trial looking at whether these orthoses may reduce knee pain in a group of patients with a particular type of knee osteoarthritis. Another study that ROAM completed was a trial of intra-articular steroid therapy, where the team was able to show that steroids reduce pain in part by reducing inflammation in the knee. The research also showed that one injection of steroids can relieve pain for up to six months in some people. These studies have helped to shed light on how these treatments work. Ongoing studies are aimed at identifying subgroups of people who seem to respond better than others to certain treatments.