March 2015

Do You Need a Drug for Your Bones?

Subscribers Only — Bone creates a strong framework for our bodies, a living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. But when osteoporosis sets in, bones become weak and brittle, making a fall or just bending over enough stress to cause a fracture. More than 40 million people in the United States either have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass. Osteoporosis can occur in both men and women at any age, with increasing prevalence in older age. When fracture risk is high, prescription drugs that decrease bone breakdown or increase bone formation are the mainstay approach for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.   More...

What You Need to Know

Subscribers Only — Risk factors for osteoporosis include being a woman, older age and being postmenopausal. White and Asian women are at highest risk, and osteoporosis also tends to run in families.   More...

A Patient’s Perspective On: Steroid Shots

Subscribers Only — Loretta Grentzer of Marblehead, Ohio understands the power of a steroid shot. Diagnosed with osteoarthritis (OA) in her knee and the patella-femoral joint—the joint between her kneecap and the femur—over 13 years ago, she was able to manage the pain initially with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and physical therapy throughout the first six years of her condition.   More...

Steroid Shots: Worth Considering?

Subscribers Only — Pain due to arthritis is common and shots of cortico­steroids into an aching joint are often used to provide relief. By helping fight the pain and swelling caused by inflammation, a steroid shot can literally transform a stiff joint into one nimble enough for motion.   More...

Focusing on Feel-Better Foods

Subscribers Only — There are many claims about the power of food for easing arthritis pain. From eating a cherry a day for relieving aches, to eliminating dairy to prevent arthritis from worsening, it’s hard to know what dietary advice to follow. While there is no diet that will cure your arthritis—whether it’s osteoarthritis (OA) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA)—a simple way to start feeling better with food is to think fresh and colorful, according to Roxanne B. Sukol, MD, Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Enterprise medical director. “When thinking about aging and inflammation, I think of rust inside us. Foods that increase the rust are anything that is high in omega-6s, which is all processed food products,” says Dr. Sukol. “To decrease the rust and inflammation, keep it simple. The more fresh fruits and vegetables and the richer and deeper the color, the better.”   More...

Regain Strength to Get Moving

Subscribers Only — Imagine building a house without support beams. The lack of reinforcement would lead to drywall sagging and eventual deterioration of the overall structure. Such is the case when muscle strength is lost due to osteoarthritis (OA), according to Cleveland Clinic physical therapist Maighdlin Bauman, DPT. “Our muscles are what support and hold up our joints and bones,” says Bauman. “The pain caused by arthritis causes people to decrease their activity level, which then leads to the muscles becoming weaker. In addition, from a cellular standpoint, when you have chronic swelling and inflammation, it actually causes inhibition, shutting off the muscles in that area. “Unless you keep trying to get your muscles moving or working, they just tend to get weaker,” she says.   More...

Easing the Ache of Winter’s Chill

Winter ends on March 20 this year, but it may be several more weeks before temperatures begin to rise in the northern hemisphere. If your joints have been aching for the warmth of summer, you’re not alone. According to a study published in the journal Pain (May 1995), two-thirds of patients suffering from chronic pain were convinced that their symptoms increased with cold, damp conditions. The study also found that local climate did not affect these results. For instance, those living in San Diego and Boston seemed to be influenced by weather changes the same way. But, does this mean that aching joints can predict a change in the weather?   More...

In The News: March 2015

Having gout could make nighttime more painful. A study published online in Arthritis & Rheumatology (Dec. 2014) found that the risk of a gout attack was more than double during the night compared with daytime hours. When reviewing 724 adult patients with gout, researchers found that attacks occurred more frequently from midnight to 8 a.m., compared with the period between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. The risk of a gout attack was also somewhat higher from 4 p.m. until midnight, the study found. The significantly higher risk between midnight and 8 a.m. was found among alcohol users and those who take diuretic medications. Patients taking allopurinol (Zyloprim®) and colchicine were also at increased risk of attacks during the nighttime hours.   More...

Ask The Doctors: March 2015

I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my spine over five years ago. Steroid shots helped manage my pain at first, but now the pain is persistent and unbearable. Would radiofrequency ablation of my spine be helpful?   More...