News January 2013 Issue

In The News: January 2013

Many Arthritis Patients Turning to Alternative Therapies

Almost a quarter of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis use complementary and alternative therapy (CAT) to help deal with their condition, according to a study in the November 2012 issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing. Researchers found that the most common CAT used was herbal therapy, followed by exercise, massage, acupuncture, yoga and meditation, and then dietary supplements. The percentage of study participants who reported improvement in pain symptoms rose from 12 percent to 43 percent after CAT use, and the numbers of patients who said they slept all night increased from 9 percent to 66 percent after starting some form of CAT. But what was alarming to researchers was the fact that 59 percent of study participants did not tell their primary healthcare providers about their CAT use. Researchers stressed the importance of sharing this information with your healthcare practitioner, particularly if you are using herbal and/or dietary supplements, many of which can interact negatively with prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Obese Patients Face Greater Challenges with Knee Replacements

Obesity not only raises the risk of developing osteoarthritis, it also increases the odds of complications following total knee replacement (TKR) surgery. Among those complications are post-surgical infections. Research published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery found that obese patients have twice the rate of infection following TKR surgery compared to non-obese patients, and that obese patients’ rate of infection is higher for both superficial and deep infections. Researchers also noted that because of these complications obese patients are more likely to require follow-up surgery. And while researchers said that TKR should still be available to these patients, the risks involved should be made clear and that they should be advised to lose weight, if possible, before surgery.

Water-based Exercise Bicycle as Effective as Typical Stationary Bike

Arthritis and other joint problems can make bicycling and walking difficult, but a study presented recently at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress found that people who used an immersible ergocycle—an exercise bike in a pool—had a workout that produced results essentially the same as exercising on a traditional stationary bike. Researchers said these results should help change the minds of people who assume land-based exercise must be more effective than activity done in the water. The other advantages of water-based exercise is a reduced level of stress on the joints, and a lower chance of injury. In the study, participants exercised on a typical stationary bike on land and on an immersible ergocycle in water up to chest level. Readings of their maximal oxygen consumption, a measure of a workout’s effectiveness, were basically identical. Water-based exercises should be considered by patients with arthritis, because everyone benefits from a good cardiovascular workout.

Steroid Injections May Raise the Risk of Bone Fractures

A new study suggests that patients treated with an epidural steroid injection for back pain relief face an increased risk of bone fractures in the spine. Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital found that the risk of fracture increased 29 percent with each steroid injection. The retrospective study compared the data of 6,000 patients treated for back pain between 2007 and 2010, half of whom received at least one steroid injection and half who did not get an injection. Bone fractures in the spine are the most common fractures in patients with osteoporosis. For example, an estimated 40 percent of women age 80 and older experience bone fractures in the spine. Researchers said they think it’s important that patients be advised of the fracture risk before deciding whether to receive a steroid injection. The study was presented at the annual meeting of the North American Spine Society in October.