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In The News: January 2020

Statins are commonly-used drugs to lower cholesterol. Some studies have found that these drugs may also have a positive effect on bones. According to a recent study, the effect may depend on the dose. The study, published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases (September 2019), examined the relationship between statins and the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. Researchers analyzed health data on 353,502 people who took statins, 11,701 of whom were diagnosed with osteoporosis. They were compared with over 7 million people who did not take statins. Overall, those who took statins were more likely than nonusers to have osteoporosis. However, the effect depended on the dose. Those who took a low statin dose of 10 milligrams (mg) a day actually had up to a 60% reduced risk of osteoporosis. Taking 40 mg or more of simvastatin or 20 mg or more of atorvastatin or rosuvastatin increased risk.
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Strengthen Your Core First

Core exercises are the starting point of overall fitness because you need to hold those muscles engaged while you strengthen other muscles, such as the biceps in the arms or the quadriceps in the legs. Smith suggests setting short-term goals (for about a month) and then more long-term goals. Once you have achieved short-term goals, such as getting around more easily, add other types of weight-training or resistance exercises to build muscleelsewhere.
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Medication Management of Arthritis

For most older adults, Dr. Hashmi recommends starting with acetaminophen (Tylenol). "It is weaker than an NSAID, but you can compensate for that by taking a higher dose," he says. A potential side effect is liver damage, but you can safely take up to 3 grams a day. Tylenol typically comes in pills of 325 or 500 milligrams (mg). "You can take up to two 500-mg pills three times a day without fear it will affect the liver," he says.
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Your Aging Spine

Your spine is a column made of a stack of small bones (vertebrae) with the spinal cord running through it. Each vertebra has a cylindrical part (inside is the spinal cord and nerve roots), on the back of which is a bony ring with spiky projections (called the spinous process). The cylinders are stacked on top of one another and separated with shock-absorbing cushions (disks).
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Practice Proper Driving Posture

Good posture can go a long way toward relieving chronic musculoskeletal pain, especially in the neck, back, hips and knees. But, its not likely that any of us has picture perfect posture, says Cleveland Clinic physical therapist Mary Morrison, PT, DScPT. Over the years, we tend to become less flexible in our muscles, connective tissue and joints, and our bodies start to adapt to how we typically align ourselves in our daily activities.
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Preserving Hips

When you think about hip pain, osteoarthritis in older adults may be what comes to mind. Osteoarthritis is a common cause of hip pain. But the hip joint is susceptible to many other conditions as well, and they can affect people of all ages.
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In The News: November 2019

Having osteoarthritis has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease. But the reasons for the connection are not known. Results of a study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology (August 2019) suggest that use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be, at least partly, to blame. Researchers analyzed data from Canadian health databases on 7,743 people with osteoarthritis and compared them to 23,229 people of similar age without osteoarthritis. Those with osteoarthritis had a 42% higher risk for heart failure, a 17% higher risk for coronary heart disease, and a 14% higher risk for stroke. The researchers reported that about 41% of the total effect on increased heart disease risk was attributable to current use of NSAIDs. This was an observational study, and the authors acknowledge that prospective studies (which compare people randomly assigned to different groups) are needed to confirm the findings.
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Ask The Doctors: November 2019

A: The short answer to your question is no. But that doesn't mean there's nothing you can do about it. Osteoarthritis is caused by the degeneration of cartilage, and it cannot be reversed. Where two bones meet to form a joint the ends of the bones are covered with cartilage, which is a tough slippery material that allows the bones to glide smoothly over each other. At the most mobile joints (called synovial joints), which are the hips, knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, ankles and toes, the cushioning cartilage can wear down. The reasons are not known, but it is partly a function of aging. Close to 50% of Americans ages 65 and over have arthritis.
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Joint Pain From Cancer Treatment

Aromatase inhibitors are used mainly in two situations. First, a woman newly diagnosed with a breast cancer tumor of a specific size who has undergone surgery will be given an aromatase inhibitor to take for five years, and possibly up to 10 years, to prevent the cancer from coming back. "This is someone who doesn't have cancer right now," says Dr. LeGrand. "It's given for prevention."
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Gout Drugs Are Underused

Uric acid is a waste product of natural processes in the body. It is eliminated through the gastrointestinal tract and kidneys. If not enough uric acid is removed, it can accumulate in the blood. Once levels exceed 6.8 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), uric acid can leave the bloodstream and settle in joints, tendons and under the skin.
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Conquer Fear of Falling

To strengthen the calf muscles and small muscles of the ankles and feet, try this simple exercise: Stand up tall and rise straight up on your toes. Try to stay stable for three seconds. Have your hands hovering over a surface (close but not touching) for safety. Work up to doing this 20 times. Eventually, try doing this on one foot. Start with five repetitions.
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Relief for Nagging Hip Pain

A short course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), can be used as long as there are no reasons not to take them. NSAIDs should be used cautiously in certain people, including those with a history of stomach ulcers, kidney disease, heart disease or stroke. Talk to your doctor to ensure you are taking the drugs safely. Your doctor also may prescribe a stronger NSAID.
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