In The News: June 2019
Hip Exercises Improve Walking for People with Knee Osteoarthritis
People with osteoarthritis in the knee who add hip-strengthening exercises to their exercise regimen can walk more easily and may have less pain, according to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (February 2019). The researchers pooled results from eight studies (with a total of 340 participants) that investigated the effect of adding hip exercises to exercises done to strengthen the muscles on the front of the thigh (the quadriceps). They found that combining the two types of exercises was significantly more effective than quadricep exercises alone for improving walking. The most effective types of hip exercises involved using weights or resistance bands. Adding hip exercises also resulted in greater improvements in pain, but this result was not significantly strong. Physical therapists can provide instruction on simple exercises to strengthen hips and knees.
Men Less Likely to Be Diagnosed and Treated for Osteoporosis
Older men have low rates of being evaluated and treated for osteoporosis, according to a study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine (February 2019). Bone density testing is recommended for women ages 65 and older and men ages 70 and older and also for men over age 50 and women at menopause who have risk factors for low bone mass or fractures (such as family history of osteoporosis, smoking or previous fracture). The study included 13,704 men and women age 70 and older treated at a Veterans Affairs medical center. Only 12 percent of the men had undergone a bone density test, compared with 63 percent of women. Men were also less likely than women to have their vitamin D levels checked (18 versus 39 percent). And fewer men than women were prescribed an osteoporosis drug (5 versus 44 percent). Even men at high risk for fractures had low rates of being screened and treated for osteoporosis.
Quitting Smoking Lowers Risk for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Smoking cigarettes is known to increase the risk for developing the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis. New research suggests that this risk is reduced by quitting, and the longer the better. The study, published in Arthritis Care and Research (February 2019), examined 38 years of data on more than 230,000 women in the Nurses' Health Study. Compared with women who never smoked, current smokers had a 47 percent greater risk for rheumatoid arthritis. Women who quit smoking decreased their chances of getting rheumatoid arthritis. Compared with women who stopped smoking less than five years ago, those who quit 30 or more years ago were 37 percent less likely to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. However, even people who quit long ago had a modestly increased risk compared with never smoking.
Gout May Be Associated with Sleep Disorders
A survey of people with doctor-diagnosed gout found that many of them experience sleep disorders and daytime sleepiness. The study, published in Arthritis Research & Therapy (January 2019), included 320 people with gout who completed an online questionnaire. Gout is a form of arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood that can settle in joints and trigger an inflammatory reaction. The researchers found that 23 percent of people with gout who completed the survey reported a doctor-diagnosed sleep disorder, the most common of which was sleep apnea. Respondents slept about six and a half hours a night. Most (86 percent) reported snoring and 45 percent snorted, gasped or stopped breathing while asleep. Two-thirds of those completing the survey said they felt sleepy during the day. More research is needed to better understand the connection between gout and sleep disorders.