Good news for arthritis sufferers: Electric knee implants stimulate cartilage regeneration

Joints are the connection points between bones and play a very important role. The activities of the human body are inseparable from joints. The incidence of arthritis is relatively high, and there is a growing trend, and many people suffer from arthritis every year. With arthritis, the joints will appear red, swollen and painful, and there will be dysfunction and even joint deformities.

A new arthritis treatment has now been developed that generates a weak electrical current in a knee implant that stimulates cartilage regeneration.

The researchers developed a tiny mesh implant, about half a millimeter thick, that generates tiny electrical currents when it senses pressure — a property known as piezoelectricity. In post-implant arthritis patients, regular joint movement causes the implant to generate an electric field, which encourages cells to settle on it and grow into new cartilage.

Osteoarthritis, a common cause of knee pain, involves wear and tear of cartilage, the rubbery layer that coats the ends of bones and prevents them from rubbing together.

After testing on rabbits, the researchers found that the rabbits implanted with the device could generate electrical energy through mechanical force while exercising, and then regrow cartilage.

If used in clinical trials, the material used to make the implant would degrade after about two months, though it could be tweaked to last longer, the researchers said.