Nutrition & Supplements

The Truth Behind Alternative Arthritis Treatments

Theres major buzz about so-called "super juices," particularly one product made from a Brazilian berry called aai (AH-sci-EE), which promoters say contains anti-inflammatory properties capable of easing arthritis-related pain. Such claims have made it onto TV and have spread through cyberspace. And with such heavy promotion, its tempting to give it a try. But with some retailers selling the product for $40 (32 ounces), aai juice doesnt come cheap. Its not necessarily effective or safe, either. "Youll do much better if you simply eat an apple," says William Welches, DO, PhD, a Cleveland Clinic osteopathic physician with board certification in family-practice medicine and a specialist in osteopathic manipulation. Dr. Welches says aai juice has only one-quarter of the anti-inflammatory properties found in a regular apple. He notes that the aai berry does have significant anti-inflammatory components-but the majority are in the husks, which are processed out when making juice.

10 Super Foods That Can Help Ease Arthritis Pain

Most recent medical breakthroughs have focused on the development of new drugs, surgical treatments, gene therapies, and other high-tech innovations. But science continues to investigate how something as simple as the foods we eat can affect chronic conditions such as arthritis. "Research is ongoing, but scientists have already found that certain foods can ease arthritis-related inflammation and pain," says Andrea Dunn, RD, LD, CDE, a nutritionist at Cleveland Clinics Westlake Family Health Center.

Injections May Help OA Knee Pain

Viscosupplementation-the injection of a gel-like substance called hyaluronic acid into a joint to supplement the viscous properties of the synovial fluid which lubricates the joint-has become an increasingly effective treatment option for knee osteoarthritis (OA)-even if your pain is mild or moderate. "Many people look at viscosupplementation as an alternative," says A. J. Cianflocco, MD, a staff physician at Cleveland Clinic, "when other treatments, such as medication, physical therapy, bracing, or orthotics, have failed-or as an option only in cases of severe OA for those who want to avoid or delay total knee replacement. "But the ideal candidate is the patient with mild or moderate arthritis," he adds. "Viscosupplementa-tion should be considered a first-line treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee for these individuals." Others who might benefit are those who have not responded to pain or anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen.

Vitamin D: What You Need to Reduce Your Fracture Risk

The "Got Milk?" campaign may have convinced us to drink more milk. But if youre drinking enough milk-and therefore getting enough calcium-does that mean youre getting enough vitamin D? Not necessarily; even three daily servings of milk wont deliver the daily 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D now recommended by the U.S. Institute of Medicine for people ages 51 to 70, or even half the 600 IU recommended for people 71 and older. Its important to pay attention to how much vitamin D youre getting every day, because its essential for much of your bodys health, including bone strength. "Vitamin D promotes bone mineralization through calcium absorption. It strengthens the immune system and protects against osteomalacia (bone softening) and hip fractures," says Carolyn Snyder, MPH, RD, LD, a member of the staff at Cleveland Clinics Nutrition Therapy Department. "New research shows vitamin D may play a role in protection from hypertension, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and up to 18 different types of cancers."

Electronic Therapies May Help Ease Arthritis Pain

We rely on cartilage more than we know. The amazing slick, rubbery material is the buffer that protects the ends of bones, allowing us to walk, run, bend, or flex as the internal surfaces revolve, rotate, and glide smoothly against and over each other. A repetitive cushioning cycle that is taken for granted, the need for cartilage as a self-lubricating shock absorber becomes painfully obvious to arthritis sufferers as their cartilage begins to break down. As we age, cartilages collagen framework becomes thinner and weaker. The once-powerful joint protector now is soft and prone to damage, leading to creaky, painful joints. Yet, there are ways to treat and repair injured cartilage, says Morgan Jones, MD, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Sports Health. "Two of the most important factors for treating sore joints are weight loss and exercise-yet, there are many additional treatments to help you manage joint pain."

Keeping Your Cartilage in Tune

We rely on cartilage more than we know. The amazing slick, rubbery material is the buffer that protects the ends of bones, allowing us to walk, run, bend, or flex as the internal surfaces revolve, rotate, and glide smoothly against and over each other. A repetitive cushioning cycle that is taken for granted, the need for cartilage as a self-lubricating shock absorber becomes painfully obvious to arthritis sufferers as their cartilage begins to break down. As we age, cartilages collagen framework becomes thinner and weaker. The once-powerful joint protector now is soft and prone to damage, leading to creaky, painful joints. Yet, there are ways to treat and repair injured cartilage, says Morgan Jones, MD, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Sports Health. "Two of the most important factors for treating sore joints are weight loss and exercise-yet, there are many additional treatments to help you manage joint pain."

Calcium for Bone Health: Diet, Pill, or Both?

Among people over age 60, the most common result of calcium deficiency is osteoporosis, a condition marked by increasingly weakened bones and elevated risk of fracture, says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic. Each year, an estimated 1.5 million broken bones, including 300,000 hip fractures, occur in the U.S. as a consequence of osteoporosis. "The condition is especially prevalent in postmenopausal women," she says. "Older women experience hormonal changes that diminish their ability to absorb calcium and use it efficiently."

Arthritis Diets: Fact or Fancy?

Since what we eat has a direct impact on our health in so many ways, its only logical to think that it also has some effect on our arthritis. However, the challenge is determining just what that effect may be. We spoke with Cleveland Clinic dietitian Andrea Dunn, RD, LD, CDE, to help sort science from speculation on several dietary topics.

8 Things You Can Do Now To Control Arthritis Pain

Making lifestyle changes can make a difference when you suffer from arthritis. A recent trial among 252 people age 60 and older found combining moderate weight loss and exercise was an effective treatment for overweight adults with osteoarthritis. Another trial found people who took part in an 18-month program of exercise coupled with a reduced-calorie diet had a 24 percent improvement in physical function and a decrease of more than 30 percent in knee pain.…

What Your Nails Tell You About The Health Of Your Joints

The appearance of your nails may be more than a fashion statement. They may also be telling you about the health of your joints. According to research conducted at the University of North Carolina, people with low levels of the trace mineral selenium are more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis. In fact, the lower your selenium level, the more severe your OA is likely to be

9 Steps To Pain Relief You Can Take Now

Coping with arthritis pain can be a full-time and frustrating pastime. The effort is apt to be especially fruitless if you try to ease your discomfort in solitude, relying only on over-the-counter drugs, foregoing consultation with a physician, and thereby missing out on the abundant medical and surgical treatments that might provide the relief you desperately need.

In The News 01/07

Although the level of function prior to knee or hip replacement has been shown to be strongly related to how well a patient functions after surgery, little has been known about the effects of pre-op exercise on post-op rehab.