June 2015

Can Surgery Ease Your Aching Back?

Subscribers Only — Many people awake each day to an aching back. In fact, back pain is the second-most common reason Americans go to the doctor—right behind colds and the flu. While chronic spinal pain and the osteoarthritis (OA) that often causes it are common, it’s not completely clear what type of treatment will ease the condition. For many, surgery may seem like a solution, but there is no clear rule of thumb as to when surgery is the best answer, according to Cleveland Clinic orthopaedic surgeon Thomas Mroz, MD. “The decision to use spinal fusion surgery to permanently connect two or more vertebrae in the spine to treat back pain is a sticky issue,” says Dr. Mroz, director of the Spine Surgery Fellowship at Cleveland Clinic. “How we treat patients with back pain in the United States is very heterogeneous. We need to ask what is good for the patient and, at the same time, we need to decide what works best for their particular type of pain.”   More...

Getting Back Behind the Wheel

Oh, the joys of getting behind the wheel. From the time you reached the age to motor away on your own, the car offered freedom and control. But for those with arthritis, this power may seem stripped away. According to a study in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy (March 2010), many drivers with arthritis report their symptoms affect their ability to perform the most basic driving maneuvers, such as steering, checking blind spots and reversing. Although arthritis can compete with driving, there are ways to not let stiff joints keep you from taking the wheel, according to Cleveland Clinic occupational therapist Patrick Baker, MHS, OTR/L, CLVT, CDRS.   More...

Sleep Apnea May Be a Nightmare for Your Pain

Subscribers Only — They say there is no worse form of torture than sleep deprivation. And, for those with arthritis, experts have shown that insomnia not only makes you cranky, but also actually increases joint pain and even accelerates joint damage. While your insomnia may be a result of arthritis pain, it’s possible that the inability to get some shuteye is due to sleep apnea, according to Cleveland Clinic Florida pulmonary and sleep disease specialist Jose F. Ramirez, MD.   More...

Help Your Hips and Your Health

Subscribers Only — If you have hip osteoarthritis (OA), you’re all too familiar with the pain and stiffness the condition causes. But, did you know that hip OA left untreated can lead to more serious health outcomes? According to a recent study published in Arthritis and Rheumatology (March 2015), radiographic hip OA—the diagnosis of OA on an X-ray—increased the risks of all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality among older white women. In addition to having poorer health, a higher prevalence of diabetes and poorer physical function, one attribute of women with hip OA stood out in the study: they were less physically active.   More...

Hormones to Help New Joints

Subscribers Only — It’s known that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help fight bone loss and relieve hot flashes, night sweats and other symptoms of menopause. Now research is showing the bone-boosting effects of HRT may also provide an ancillary benefit: improving the survival of total hip and knee replacements. A study published in the March 2015 issue of Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases suggests that women on HRT after a total knee or hip replacement may be significantly less likely than non-HRT users to require surgery to replace a failed joint implant.   More...

In The News: June 2015

Steroid injections are commonly used to manage the pain and inflammation of hip osteoarthritis, but two studies reported by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (March 2015) raise concerns about the shots. One study found that within six months of receiving ultrasound-guided intra-articular hip injections with the corticosteroid drugs triamcinolone acetate and lidocaine, all but one of 33 patients showed clear decreases in joint space width (a sign of advancing arthritis) visible on standard radiographs. Another study showed that intra-articular corticosteroids have a “profound” dose-dependent impact on cells found in bone marrow, suggesting the injections increase the progression of joint disease. While some hip degeneration due to arthritis is natural, steroid injections caused the severe bone loss and partial dislocation of the joint to progress more quickly, the researchers stated.   More...