In The News: February 2013
Too Much or Too Little Physical Activity Can Bring Knee Trouble
High levels and low levels of physical activity can contribute to the degeneration of knee cartilage in middle-age adults, according to a study presented recently at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) researchers found men and women who engaged in frequent high-impact activities, such as running, experienced faster wear and tear on the cartilage than those who engaged in more moderate levels of exercise. Similar levels of cartilage damage were also seen in individuals who were relatively inactive. Researchers suggest that these findings indicate there is an optimal level of activity that is best suited for maintaining knee health. It’s also important to note that weight management, which is usually best achieved through a combination of diet and exercise, can also help keep your knees healthy, even when your exercise is limited to walking and normal, day-to-day activities.
Austrian Researchers Study Effects of Proteins on Osteoarthritis
Certain proteins, known as lectins, and galectins in particular, may play a significant role in the wear and tear of the joints in people with osteoarthritis (OA). Those are the early findings of researchers from MedUni Vienna, who are focusing on glycobiology in orthopaedics. Glycobiology is the study of the biological significance of sugar chains in cells. The researchers note that the more badly worn the cartilage of a joint is, the greater the production of galectins, which trigger degenerative and inflammatory responses in cartilage cells. While age and injury are known risk factors for OA, the possible contribution of galectins toward the development of OA in the first place remains unknown. The MedUni researchers say as more is learned about galectins and their role in the progression of osteoarthritis, the proteins may be used as biomarkers or as targets in treatment.
RA Patients Face Greater Risks Than Those with OA after Hip Surgery
In an analysis of 40 studies from 1990 to 2011, researchers found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at a greater risk for hip dislocation after hip replacement surgery than patients with osteoarthritis (OA). The research also revealed that RA patients have a higher infection risk following total knee replacement than those with OA. The analysis, published online in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, did not find any differences in 90-day mortality rates or blood clot risks between the two patient groups. Researchers say additional study is needed to confirm their analysis and to discover possible explanations for the differences. Joint arthroplasty is generally a successful procedure in relieving the pain and disability caused by hip or knee arthritis. Researchers noted that while complication rates tend to be very low for hip replacement surgery, sometimes there can be serious consequences—primarily joint dislocation, blood clots or infections.
A Patient’s History of Falls Helps Doctors Predict Fracture Risk
Your risk of sustaining a fracture is largely based on the strength of your bones and the force applied to them in an event such as a fall. Bone strength is based on bone density, and the lower the bone density, the greater the fracture risk. In a study in the journal Bone, researchers at the University of Southampton in the UK found that assessment tools such as the FRAX model can better help clinicians accurately predict the risk of fracture for a patient if the information in a patient’s profile also includes information about any previous falls and injuries from those falls. FRAX can provide a good level of fracture prediction using information such as age, sex, smoking, alcohol, family history, certain diseases (such as arthritis), and bone density. But in the study, when information about previous falls was added to that information, the accuracy of the predictions was improved. The predictive accuracy was especially useful in men, the study found.