News March 2008 Issue

In The News: 03/08

OA Pain Lowest in the Afternoon

Preliminary research in Australia suggests that the pattern of osteoarthritis (OA) pain may be linked to your body’s daily (circadian) clock. According to a report in Annals of Rheumatic

Diseases (Vol. 61, No. 12), 21 patients with OA of the hand were asked to keep daily journals for 10 days, documenting their pain throughout the day. In reviewing the journals, doctors found that reported dexterity levels were highest, and pain levels lowest, in the afternoon, usually between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.


New Treatment Bolsters Bone Healing, Regrowth

A drug originally used to treat iron poisoning can dramatically boost the body’s ability to heal and re-grow injured bones. According to a study in the January Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at the University of Alabama School of Medicine injected deferoxamine, which is designed to

reduce iron overload, into injured mouse bones and discovered that the drug triggered the growth of new blood vessels, which in turn produced bone re-growth and healing. Bone density, in fact, more than doubled in the treated bones compared to the untreated bones. Researchers claim the new blood vessel growth and resultant bone healing was achieved through a cell pathway that helps the body respond to low oxygen levels, a common problem when blood supply is affected by bone fracture or bone disease. The study’s authors called this cell pathway a "prime target" for future human studies using deferoxamine and other drugs to strengthen the body’s bone-healing potential.


Naproxen Does Not Impede the Cardioprotective Benefits of Aspirin

An over-the-counter (OTC) dose of naproxen sodium (Aleve) does not appear to diminish the antiplatelet effect of low-dose aspirin. In a study reported at the 2007 annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in November, a group of healthy male

and female volunteers taking 81 mg of aspirin were given an OTC dose (220 mg three times daily) of naproxen sodium. After exploring the inhibition of serum thromboxane (an indicator of platelet inhibition), results showed that the combination of aspirin and naproxen sodium did not alter the antiplatelet effect seen with aspirin alone (unlike ibuprofen, which can negate the cardiovascular benefit of aspirin). Researchers considered the findings good news for people currently on low-dose aspirin therapy who also need safe, over-the-counter relief for the minor pain of arthritis.


NSAIDs May Reduce Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Arthritis patients who regularly take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. According to a study in the Nov. 6, 2007 issue of Neurology, regular non-aspirin NSAID users—those who took two

or more pills a week for at least one month—were 60 percent less likely to develop the disease than were those who did not take NSAIDs on a regular basis. Regular use of aspirin was also linked to a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease, but its use appeared to be more effective in women than men. Researchers think it may have to do with men taking lower doses (for protection against heart attack) and women taking higher doses (for pain relief).


Finger Length Pattern Linked to Knee OA

Individuals whose index (pointer) finger is shorter than their ring finger are up to twice as likely to suffer from knee osteoarthritis (OA), according to a report in the January issue of Arthritis and

Rheumatism. British researchers studying the relationship between index-to-ring-finger-length ratio and knee OA examined 2,049 subjects with knee OA and 1,123 control subjects; the group included men and women averaging 65 years of age. Type 1 and type 2 finger-length-ratio patterns were defined as the index finger being longer or equal to the ring finger. Overall, in those with the type 3 pattern—the index finger being shorter than the ring finger—the likelihood of knee OA nearly doubled, and the risk of OA continued to rise as index-finger length dropped relative to ring-finger length. The study’s authors said further studies are needed to determine the mechanisms underlying finger length and knee OA risk.