Smokers who suffer from knee osteoarthritis experience greater cartilage loss and pain than non-smokers, according to a new study.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that men who were current smokers were 2.3 times more likely to suffer loss of cartilage at the medial tibiofemoral joint and 2.5 times more likely to experience cartilage loss at the patellofemoral joint than men who had either never smoked or had previously given up.
The study, which involved 159 men with knee osteoarthritis, also found that current smokers had a higher pain score.
Dr Shreyasee Amin, lead researcher and rheumatologist at the Mayo Clinic, said that the finding was novel.
"Previous studies showed no association between cigarette smoking and knee osteoarthritis or even a protective effect of smoking," the researcher revealed, adding that the finding could be important as smoking was a potentially modifiable risk factor.
Osteoarthritis is characterised by the breakdown of joint cartilage, leading to decreased mobility and severe pain.
Although there is no known cause or cure for osteoarthritis, many patients opt for knee replacement surgery to improve their mobility and provide relief from pain.