London: Bone marrow lesions (BMLs) are likely to help predict a swiftly progressing joint disease, says a study. The research shows lesions -- seen on MRI scans as regions of bone beneath the cartilage with ill-defined high signal -- can help identify individuals who are more likely to suffer from the rapidly progressing osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis -- the most common type of arthritis in the UK -- can cause the joints to become painful and stiff. Almost any joint can be affected, but it most often causes problems in the knees, hips, and small joints of the hands. It can progress at varying speeds. "Osteoarthritis causes a significant burden to individuals and the healthcare system as a whole," said Mark Edwards, Clinical Lecturer at the University of Southampton in UK. Individuals with BMLs lose the space within the joint at a rate that is 0.10 mm per year faster than those without BMLs, the findings showed. The SEKOIA study, a major international osteoarthritis disease-modifying trial, carried out MRI scanning on the knees of 176 men and women over 50 years old. They were then followed up for an average of three years with repeated knee x-rays. Individuals with bone marrow lesions (BMLs) on their MRI scan were found to have osteoarthritis that progressed more rapidly than those that did not. Whereas, individuals with abnormalities on the MRI scans at the first appointment were compared to those without to examine the effect on disease progression. The study has been published in The Journal of Rheumatology.