September 2016

Download the Full September 2016 Issue PDF

Subscribers Only — There are inherent difficulties in studying any treatments for osteoarthritis. First is the placebo effect. Some people will get better even when given an inactive treatment simply because they believe it will work.It is also tricky to evaluate any treatment for osteoarthritis because symptoms do not always steadily worsen. Instead, pain tends to come and go. It may not be clearly evident whether an improvement was the result of a treatment or the natural ebbing and flowing of symptoms.   More...

Tennis Elbow and Scoliosis

Subscribers Only — Tennis elbow is the common term for a condition called lateral epicondylitis. Overuse of or strain in the forearm can cause inflammation of the tendon that attaches the forearm muscles to the bony protrusion on the outer part of the elbow joint. A side-to-side curvature of the spine is called scoliosis. This is different from a curvature of the upper spine that causes a hunched back (called kyphosis, or “dowager’s hump”). Kyphosis is most often caused by the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis.   More...

New Treatments for Psoriatic Arthritis Have Big Impact

Subscribers Only — When you think of people who have arthritis, a 35-year-old with a skin condition may not come to mind. Of the more than 100 types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is by far the most common, and it generally affects people in older age. Other types of arthritis are autoimmune diseases that cause inflammation in joints. One of these, psoriatic arthritis, affects up to one-third of people who have the skin condition psoriasis.   More...

Improve Balance, Prevent Falls

The National Council on Aging has designated the first day of fall (September 22) as Falls Prevention Awareness Day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of Americans age 65 and older fall each year. “But falls are not normal,” says Cleveland Clinic physical therapist Mary Morrison, DScPT. Many falls are preventable. The CDC website has some practical advice for preventing falls, which includes exercising. Morrison says this requires a multipronged approach to improve strength (see box), balance, posture and flexibility.   More...

Stem Cells: Hype vs. Reality

Subscribers Only — Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage, the cushioning material that covers the ends of bones, deteriorates. Over time, this can lead to pain, inflammation and limited mobility. No treatment will stop or reverse this process. The mainstays of therapy are pain management, weight loss and, if the condition becomes severe, joint replacement. Injectable treatments like corticosteroids and hyaluronic acid may be used, but the effectiveness of these treatments varies.   More...

Benefits of Weight-Loss Surgery for Arthritis

The exact cause of osteoarthritis remains unknown, but it is linked to several factors, including being overweight. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage, the cushioning material that covers the ends of bones at joints, deteriorates. The joint space narrows and bone can rub on bone, causing pain. Excess weight places added stress on weight-bearing joints (like the hips and knees), possibly accelerating the breakdown of cartilage. Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat.   More...

In the News: September 2016

Subscribers Only — People with rheumatoid arthritis who are obese (BMI of 30 or more) are less likely to achieve remission than people of normal weight, according to a study published in Arthritis Care & Research (May 2016). The biologic drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis often make it possible to achieve remission, which means having few or no symptoms. The researchers pooled results from 20 studies and found that people who were obese were 43 percent less likely to achieve remission and 51 percent less likely to achieve sustained remission than people who were not obese.   More...

Acupuncture for Pain Relief

For people with chronic pain from arthritis and other conditions that affect joints, no magic bullet will take away pain. Getting relief from pain, and improving your ability to function, depends on a multipronged approach that may include physical therapy, weight loss, bracing, pain medications, supplements, assistive devices and, increasingly, acupuncture.   More...