News January 2008 Issue

In The News: 01/08

When it Comes to Knee OA, Shoes Matter

If you suffer from osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, the shoes you wear can put you at increased risk of both injury and disease progression. According to a study presented during a September 2007 meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, researchers examined the effects of different types of footwear on 13 women and three men with OA. Participants were evaluated on

the way they walked while barefoot and while wearing a clog, a "stability" shoe (designed to limit foot mobility), a flexible walking shoe, and flip-flop sandals. Participants were then monitored during normal walking to determine the load each type of footwear placed upon their knees. It was found that clogs and stability shoes caused significantly higher loading of the knees, while walking shoes and flip-flops resulted in lower loading (similar to that when walking barefoot), thereby allowing a more natural foot motion that was determined to be beneficial in slowing the progression of knee OA.

Risedronate Tops Alendronate for Fracture Reduction

Patients who receive a once-a-week dose of risedronate (Actonel) experience lower rates of hip and nonvertebral fracture than those on once-weekly alendronate (Fosamax). According to a study in Osteoporosis International, fracture rates were compared among

12,215 women age 65 and over receiving risedronate with fracture rates among 21,615 women of similar age on alendronate. At the end of the first year, nonvertebral fractures among risedronate users were 18 percent lower than in those who took alendronate, and the incidence of hip fractures was 43 percent lower than those seen in the alendronate group. Researchers concluded that the results were "impressive," adding that risedronate may be better at preventing fractures as early as six months after starting it.

Meditation May Help Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

Meditation has therapeutic value in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to the developers of a program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The study included 63 RA patients, average age 54, half of whom received an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program (all

participants received routine rheumatological care). At two months, both groups showed improvement in psychological and emotional symptoms. By six months, the control group had not maintained improvement but the meditation group had maintained improvement or improved even further. At the end of the study, the meditation group showed a 35 percent reduction in psychological distress. Although the program had no impact on RA activity, researchers concluded that it was effective in complementing the routine medical management of RA. The study appeared in the October 2007 issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

Combination RA Therapy Reduces Heart-Attack Risk

Use of a TNF-inhibitor in combination with methotrexate can reduce your chances of heart attack by 80 percent vs. using methotrexate alone. According to a study presented at the September 2007 meeting of the American College of

Rheumatology, 19,233 patients (average age 55) took either a TNF-inhibitor, methotrexate, or a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD). After monitoring exposure to TNF-inhibitors alone and TNF-inhibitors plus methotrexate, researchers found that patients on the combination therapy had a heart attack risk of only 20 percent of that of patients taking methotrexate alone.

Diclofenac Gets FDA Nod as Topical Treatment for OA Pain

Diclofenac (Voltaren) has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval as the first topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) treatment for osteoarthritis (OA) pain in joints amenable to topical treatment, such as the knees and

hands. The gelís effectiveness was studied in more than 900 patients with knee or hand OA. After six weeks of treatment, pain in patients with OA of the hand was reduced by 46 percent. In a 12-week study of patients with knee OA, results showed a 51 percent reduction in pain.