DURHAM, N.C. — Arthritic knees, it turns out, try hard to repair themselves.

That finding by a team of Duke and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill researchers, published Friday in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, suggests that if a method can be found to halt the breakdown of knee tissue, then the body itself may be able to reverse damage from osteoarthritis.

Such treatments are already under study.

The researchers used new tools they developed to analyze knees and hips and found that osteoarthritic knee joints are in a constant state of repair, but hip joints are not.

The researchers now plan to investigate the reasons for the difference between how knees and hips handle degeneration, and also look at the ankle joint's approach to repairing itself.