In The News: January 2018
Muscle Strengthening Reduces Chances of Low Back Pain
Low back pain is extremely common, affecting about three-quarters of Americans some time in their lives. A study published in the journal Spine (August 2017) examined the role of muscle-strengthening exercises in reducing risk for low back pain. The researchers analyzed data on 12,721 people participating in the large National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They were divided into three categories: no engagement in muscle-strengthening activity (MSA), MSA one day a week, and MSA two or more days a week. The researchers found that both men and women who engaged in activities designed to strengthen muscles, such as lifting weights, push-ups or sit-ups, at least two days a week were significantly less likely to report low back pain. Current smokers were more likely to have low back pain. For men, but not women, smoking reduced the benefits of exercise.
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Increase Risk for COPD
Having rheumatoid arthritis has been linked to an increased risk for other health conditions, such as heart disease. A study published in Arthritis Care & Research (October 2017) found that people with rheumatoid arthritis may also be at greater risk for developing the lung condition chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Researchers examined health data on 24,625 people who were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis between 1996 and 2006, and compared them to data on 25,396 people from the general population who served as a control group. They found that people with rheumatoid arthritis had a 47 percent greater risk for being hospitalized for COPD than people in the control group. The connection between the two likely relates to the role of inflammation in the development of COPD. The prolonged inflammation that occurs in rheumatoid arthritis may predispose people to COPD.
Fewer Knee Replacements for Women Taking Osteoporosis Drugs
A study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases (October 2017) found that older women with knee osteoarthritis who were taking bisphosphonate drugs for the bone-thinning condition osteoporosis had fewer knee replacement surgeries than women not on these drugs. The researchers used data from a large collection of medical records of people in the general population in the United Kingdom. They identified over 2,000 women (mean age of 76 years) who had been diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis (the wearing down of cartilage in the joint) and subsequently started taking a bisphosphonate drug for osteoporosis. They were compared to the same number of women with knee osteoarthritis who did not take bisphosphonates. The researchers found that women taking bisphosphonate drugs were 26 percent less likely to undergo knee replacement surgery than those not taking the drugs.
Ibuprofen Raises Blood Pressure More Than Other NSAIDs
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can increase blood pressure, and they all carry a warning about the potential to increase risk for heart attack and stroke. A study called PRECISION-ABPM compared the effects on blood pressure with the selective COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib (Celebrex®) (100 to 200 mg twice a day) and the nonselective NSAIDs naproxen (375 to 500 mg twice a day) and ibuprofen (600 to 800 mg three times a day). The study included 444 people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis who had or were at risk for heart disease. The results were presented at the European Society of Cardiology 2017 Congress (September 2017). After four months, the researchers found that systolic blood pressure (the top number) increased 3.7 mmHg with ibuprofen and 1.6 mmHg with naproxen and declined 0.3 mmHg with Celebrex. More patients taking ibuprofen developed high blood pressure.