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Insider Arthritis Tips Newsletter August 2010
August 15, 2010

"Do not fear going forward slowly; fear only to stand still."
-- Chinese Proverb

Last month’s issue with little snippets of news was very popular so instead of one topic I will be discussing the news in arthritis and making comments…

Patients 'could grow new joints'
An article appeared in the online United Kingdom Press Association publication recently describing a study published in The Lancet medical journal. Researchers used a computer to create artificial frameworks that were anatomically the same size and shape as rabbit leg joints.

The scaffolds were saturated with a growth factor and implanted into 10 rabbits after their own leg joints had been removed. Attracted by the growth factor, their own stem cells went to the location of the missing joint and regenerated cartilage and bone. Three to four weeks after surgery, the rabbits had fully regained movement and could bear weight similar to animals who had never undergone surgery.

The rabbits had grown their own joints using their own stem cells. This is the first time scientists have regenerated a limb joint using either harvested stem cells or an animal's own stem cells.

Comment: This obviously has applications for humans in that in the future they could "grow" their own replacement joints using their own stem cells. Just as important, I wonder whether this has application to some of our war veterans.

Bee sting venom could provide treatment for arthritis
The London- based ‘Daily Telegraph' reported a new study claiming that venom from bee stings could actually treat arthritis and even prevent it from developing in the first place.

Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil carried out the study and found bee venom can control the inflammation in joints that leads to rheumatoid arthritis. The study has shown that the venom contains molecules that cause an increase in natural hormones in the body that regulate inflammation. Bee venom caused an increased level of anti-inflammatory hormones called glucocorticoids.

Comment: There have been anecdotal reports of patients getting relief from arthritis pain after bee sting therapy. I’m not sure I would advise it though.

Why weather makes your arthritis worse
Brenda Goodman for Arthritis Today cited a study by researchers at Tufts University who reported that every 10-degree drop in temperature corresponded with an incremental increase in arthritis pain.

Barometric pressure change was also a pain trigger in the Tufts study. She adds, studies in cadavers have found that barometric pressure affects pressure inside the joints.

In one experiment, when pressure in the hip joints was equated with atmospheric pressure, it threw the ball of the hip joint about one-third of an inch off track.

Comment: Not really new news. My patients have always been better predictor of the weather than most meteorologist. In 1961, famed rheumatologist, Joseph Hollander demonstrated how high levels of humidity along with low barometric pressure increased stiffness and joint pain in arthritis patients.

Wei's World August 2010

My youngest daughter Emily was adopted from China. She has learning disabilities complicated by a speech problem. This has caused her to be very shy because she has difficulty expressing herself. She learns things slowly but once she has them, she has them forever. Unlike many learning disabled kids, she has no emotional issues (unless you consider being a teenager one of them).

Emily has an unbelievable memory. She remembers details from events that occurred years ago. She also has a terrific sense of direction. Her older brother, Benji, has a terrible sense of direction so if we need Benji to run an errand for us, we have Emily accompany him in the car so he knows how to get there and also how to get home.

Of all our children three biologic, one adopted, Emily is the one who tries the hardest.

It’s not that the others don’t put in effort… it’s that Emily, because of her learning disability, has to literally give 110 per cent in order to learn new things.

Emily does have a stubborn streak… which probably stood her in good stead when she was in her orphanage in China because only the strongest infants survived. That has not always been easy for us to deal with. When I was trying to teach her to ride a bike, she resisted mightily and threw enormous temper tantrums, We laugh about it now but then it was not pretty.

She has taken ice skating lessons since she was five and horseback riding lessons since she was nine. And she loves both of those activities. While she has mumbled occasionally that she’d like a horse, I’ve told her it’s never going to happen. And I think she understands that.

Emily is a kind, sweet person and as she grows into a beautiful young lady, I become increasingly proud of her.

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