Science Reporting

A hormone produced during pregnancy can treat joint pain

A group of researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that a particular hormone, produced by women from the first trimester of pregnancy, can help alleviate the pain caused by a particular joint condition called arthrofibrosis. This hormone is produced by the mother to relieve muscles, joints and ligaments to prepare the body for a growing baby.

Dr. Edward Rodriguez, head of the orthopedic surgery department at the BIMDC, observed that patients with arthrofibrosis who were pregnant experienced a strange and lasting relief. In the process, the researcher, along with his colleagues including Mark Grinstaff, a professor of chemistry at the University of Boston, discovered that it was relaxationine that was responsible for the decrease in pain for that particular condition affecting the joints.

It is a peptide hormone that the woman produces through the ovaries during pregnancy. In addition, the same team of researchers discovered that by injecting relaxationin directly into the diseased joint in animals, it was possible to restore movement and generally improve tissue health.

These results, later published in Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, may prove useful in analyzing the possibilities of creating a new drug based on this hormone, but of course further studies will be necessary to verify the effectiveness of relaxin also for the treatment of arthrofibrosis in humans.