In The News: August 2017
Creaky Knees May Be Early Sign of Osteoarthritis
Grating, cracking or popping sounds can emanate from joints (called crepitus). A study published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research (May 2017) found that people who hear these sounds in their knees may be at increased risk for developing knee osteoarthritis (OA). Researchers used data on 3,500 participants of the Osteoarthritis Initiative study who did not have symptoms of knee OA at the start of the study. The researchers collected data, such as X-rays and reports of knee pain, every year for up to four years. Participants answered a questionnaire, which included a question about crepitus. The chance of developing symptomatic knee OA was higher among those with more frequent crepitus at the outset. Most of the cases occurred in people who started with X-ray evidence of OA but no symptoms. But not everyone with crepitus developed symptomatic knee OA.
Hand Osteoarthritis Is Common
Osteoarthritis (OA) in the hip and knee are common, affecting about 45 and 25 percent of Americans, respectively. New data, published in Arthritis & Rheumatology (June 2017), shows that osteoarthritis in the hand also is quite common. Hand OA affects hand strength and function, impairing the ability to carry out daily tasks. Researchers obtained data on over 2,200 adults in the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project and found that the overall lifetime risk of developing hand OA is 40 percent. Nearly one in two women and one in four men develop the condition by age 85. Hand OA occurs in about 41 percent of whites and 29 percent of blacks. People who are obese have a 47 percent chance of having hand OA, which is 11 percentage points higher than for people who are not obese.
DASH Diet May Prevent Gout
It’s been shown that people with gout who follow the healthy Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can lower their uric acid levels, which reduces flare-ups. Gout occurs when a build-up of uric acid in the bloodstream crystallizes in joints, causing swollen, painful joints. A study published in the journal BMJ (May 2017) found that following a DASH diet may lower the risk for developing gout. The researchers analyzed data on 44,444 men without gout who answered food questionnaires every four years for 26 years. Those who most closely followed the DASH diet had a lower risk for developing gout. The DASH diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, whole grains and limits red meat. Participants with a high intake of red and processed meats, refined grains, sweets and desserts had a higher risk for gout. The study does not show that foods cause gout, but for those prone to it a healthier diet may help.
Losing Weight Can Slow Down Knee Joint Degeneration
It is well known that obesity is linked to increased risk for developing osteoarthritis (OA) in weight-bearing joints, particularly the knee. But can losing weight prevent this? To find out, a group of researchers followed 640 obese and overweight men and women who were, on average, 63 years old. They published their findings in the journal Radiology (May 2017). At the start of the study, most of the participants had some damage to the knee joint based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies. After four years, those who lost more than 10 percent of their body weight were 66 percent less likely than people who lost no weight to have further degeneration of cartilage in their knee joint, as assessed by MRI. Those who lost five to 10 percent of their body weight also had less degeneration of cartilage, but the effect was not as large.