News September 2018 Issue

In The News: September 2018

Weight Loss Lessens Pain from Knee Osteoarthritis

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Being overweight or obese can put added stress on joints. Every one pound of weight puts three to four pounds of pressure on your knees. For people with knee osteoarthritis (which occurs when the cushioning cartilage that covers the ends of bones in joints wears down), losing weight can ease pain by relieving some of the pressure. A study published in Arthritis Care & Research (June 2018) found that the greater the weight loss the greater the pain relief. The study included 240 overweight or obese adults with knee osteoarthritis who were in an 18-month weight-loss study. Participants who lost 10 percent or more of their body weight had a 50 percent reduction in knee pain. Those who lost the most weight (20 percent or more of their body weight) experienced the greatest reduction in pain, as well as improvements in function and quality of life.

Total Joint Replacement Recipients Often Fail to Exercise

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For people with severe hip or knee osteoarthritis, total joint replacement can bring much-needed relief. The surgeries have a high success rate, but long-lasting effects depend on a commitment to postsurgical rehabilitation and continuing a regular exercise program. And exercise has overall health benefits as well. A study published in Arthritis Care & Research (May 2018) found that about one-third of people who had total joint replacement did not exercise at least once a week three years after surgery. The researchers interviewed 1,289 people before and three years after hip or knee replacement surgery. They found that participation in regular physical activity increased from 45.2 of participants before surgery to 63.5 percent three years after surgery. This meant that about one-third were not exercising regularly even though their joint replacement should have allowed them to be more physically active. 

More Evidence for Hereditary Nature of Gout

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Gout occurs when the kidneys are unable to eliminate enough of a naturally-occurring substance called uric acid (or the body makes too much of it) and it builds up in the blood. Uric acid can settle in joints, where it may form needle-like crystals, causing the joint to become inflamed, red and painful. Gout is thought to have a hereditary component. Findings from a study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology (May 2018) add to the evidence for genetics. The study included 131 men with a parent who has gout but who did not have symptoms themselves. About 64 percent of them had blood uric acid levels of 6 mg/dL or higher. (At 6.8 mg/dL uric acid can leave the bloodstream and settle in joints.) About 30 percent of them had signs on ultrasound imaging tests that uric acid crystals were already in one or more joints. 

Menopause May Influence Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

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It is thought that hormones may play a role in rheumatoid arthritis because the disease affects three times more women than men and the symptoms often lessen during pregnancy and flare up again after delivery. New research bolsters this idea. A study published in the journal Rheumatology (May 2018) investigated the effect of menopause on women with rheumatoid arthritis. The study included 8,189 women; 2,005 of them were premenopausal, 5,573 were postmenopausal, and 611 transitioned through menopause during the study. Women who were premenopausal had less functional decline compared to the postmenopausal women. The decline in function was less among postmenopausal women who had ever been pregnant or used hormone replacement therapy. Women for whom there was a longer period of time from the beginning of menstruation to menopause also had less functional decline than postmenopausal women without these factors. 

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