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Insider Arthritis Tips Newsletter March 2011
March 15, 2011

"You can't have a better tomorrow if you're thinking about yesterday." -- Charles Kettering, Inventor

Reporting Arthritis News For March 2011

Stress Fractures Related To Overuse Common In Teen Athletes
Alan Mozes writing in HealthDay reported, "Stress fractures linked to overuse may be more common than thought among high school athletes, especially among those who participate in running-related sports," according to findings presented at the meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

"Between 2007 and 2010," the researchers tracked the "frequency and nature of stress fractures among student athletes enrolled at 57 participating high schools." Athletic trainers at each school were "asked to fill out information forms outlining each young athlete's sport history, skill level, training intensity, dietary routine and fracture details."

According to Kathleen Doheny in WebMD, "230 stress fractures were reported in 189 athletes, affecting 115 girls (61%) and 74 boys (39%)." The bones most often fractured were: "Tibia (shin bone): 48%; Long bones in the forefoot: 19%; Spine: 6%; Pelvis: 6%; Hindfoot: 4%" and "Femur (thigh bone): 4%." Males were most likely to "get fractures from track, football, and cross country" and females, from "track and cross country."

Comment: I think we may be pushing our kids too much when it comes to athletics. These injuries lead to arthritis later on in life.

Seniors With Obesity, Osteoarthritis May Lose About 3.5 Pain-Free Years
Jenifer Goddwin writing in Healthday reported, “Obesity and osteoarthritis of the knee are robbing millions of older Americans of an average of 3.5 years of life in which they might otherwise be feeling healthy and free of chronic pain," according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers created a "mathematical model to calculate 'quality-adjusted life-year losses,' or years of good health lost." They found that approximately "3.3 percent, or some 2.9-million Americans, are both obese and have knee osteoarthritis" and projected they will "enjoy 3.5 years less of pain-free good health than those who are neither obese nor have osteoarthritis."

Comment: Here’s the lesson… you have control over whether the quality of your life will be affected by your weight and by arthritis. You need to do something for yourself.

High-Fiber Diet May Reduce Risk Of Dying From Chronic Diseases, Some Cancers
Carla Johnson writing for the Associated Press reported, "Eat more fiber and you just may live longer," according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The analysis, based on data from "388,000 adults," who participated in a study conducted by NIH and AARP, found that people who met the national dietary guidelines for fiber intake "were less likely to die during a nine-year follow-up period." Angela Haupt and Katherine Hobson writing in US News and World Report on the same study commented that lead author Dr. Yikyung Park suggested that fiber reduces the risk of early death because it "lowers levels of 'bad' LDL cholesterol, improves blood glucose levels, reduces inflammation, and binds to potential cancer-causing agents, helping to flush them out of the body."

Comment: You are what you eat. I guess if it were totally true, I would be a huge plate of barbecued ribs.

Arthritis Drugs Could Help Prevent Memory Loss After Surgery, Study Suggests
From Science Daily comes this gem. Anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis may also help prevent cognitive problems after surgery, according to a new study by researchers at Imperial College London and University of California, San Francisco The research also reveals that a specific inflammatory response in the brain may explain why many patients experience memory loss or other forms of cognitive dysfunction after surgery or critical illness. Their work was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For years, doctors have been unable to explain why some patients, especially the elderly, experience confusion, learning disorders and memory loss after surgery – a condition clinicians call post-operative cognitive decline. New research suggests that it is caused by cell-to-cell signaling molecules called cytokines released by cells of the immune system. There are drugs already in use that target the activity of cytokines so it is possible that these drugs could be effective against cognitive decline.

Comment: This is another example of how a medicine used to treat one type of illness may have applications in others.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients and Doctors Differ on Disease Severity Assessment
From ScienceDaily comes this article… A novel study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that nearly one-third of Rheumatoid Arthritis patients differed from their physicians in assessment of their disease severity. The disagreement between patient and doctor evaluation of RA activity was most prevalent in patients with depressive symptoms, and those who had poor overall function. The study was published in Arthritis Care & Research. "We found clinically meaningful differences between patient and physician assessments of RA disease severity in 36% of cases," confirmed Dr. Jennifer Barton. "In an overwhelming majority (85%) of these discordant pairs, the physicians' assessments underscored the patients' assessments."
Dr. Barton concluded, "Further investigation of the relationships between mood, disease activity, and discordance may help guide interventions that improve RA patient care."

Comment: Better communication obviously needed.

RA Patients With Poor Sleep At Greater Risk For Pain
Bill Hendrick writing for WebMD reported, "People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who don't sleep well face significant risks of greater functional disability due to pain and fatigue symptoms associated with poor sleep quality," according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The researchers asked 162 patients, who had RA on average for 14 years, to provide "information concerning fatigue, depression, severity of pain, and functional disability." The results showed that "61% of participants were poor sleepers" of whom 33% reported having "pain that disturbed their sleep at least three times per week."

Comment: Another study showing the correlation between poor sleep and pain

CDC Report: Almost 30% Of US Adults Do Not Exercise
In case you missed it, a story reported by Diane Sawyer on ABC News "A red alert about a health crisis that is threatening lives but something that can be prevented, can be changed. The CDC announced the results of a comprehensive survey which lays out what's needed if Americans are going to cut doctor bills and the ever-increasing consumption of prescription drugs." ABC correspondent David Muir added, "Beyond being overweight as nation, " a new "map reveals the correlation between weight and disease and now skyrocketing doctor's bills because of it." Muir said the CDC data indicate that "nearly 30% of adults get no exercise at all."

Comment: If you’re not exercising regularly yet, get going!

Biomarker May Help Diagnose Meniscus Tears
Shari Roan writing in the Los Angeles Times reports that scientists have "identified a biomarker that can help doctors diagnose a common knee injury -- a meniscus tear," according to a study in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. The researchers a "specific protein in the knee fluid of 30 patients with a meniscal tear. A comparison of 10 patients who did not have a meniscal tear showed no presence of the protein." The study authors noted that further research is need to "determine if taking a sample of knee fluid can confirm the meniscal tear and distinguish it from other types of injuries."

Comment: This would be a pretty simple way to make the diagnosis, I think.

Interferon Gamma May Be Used Therapeutically To Improve Bone Strength
Laura Dean writing in Medwire reported a protein called Interferon gamma plays a key role in the maintenance of bone strength. Researchers suggest it may potentially be used therapeutically to improve bone strength," according to a study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research The researchers administered IFNγ to mice with their ovaries surgically removed. The interferon prevented the 17% bone loss noted in a control group of mice. A group of mice with their ovaries intact sustained a marked increase in bone mass with the interferon treatment.

Comment: I wonder what the mice thought about this study…

Knee Replacements Can Hold Up For Twenty Years Or More
Shari Roan writing in the Los Angeles Times reported that, according to a study presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual meeting, knee replacement surgery can hold up well for two decades or more. Investigators evaluated "128 people who had lived at least 20 years after total knee replacement surgery" and found that "almost all of the patients had good physical function."

Comment: Good news for us Baby Boomers… although I think a stem cell procedure would be better.


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A quick reminder:

Visit our practice website. The address is: Arthritis Treatment Center Lots of good info and a daily video blog filled with really good stuff.

Wei's World March 2011

My wife and I recently took a vacation. When we married 26 years ago, we couldn’t afford a honeymoon. Things were very tight. I was still paying off my medical school loans and the practice was in its early years. So we promised ourselves that someday we would go on a honeymoon.

We went to the Caribbean island of Anguilla. If you’ve never been there, I highly recommend it. It’s a small island, relatively unspoiled in the British West Indies. There’s very little else to do but enjoy the friendliness of the people and the beautiful beaches.

What was striking about this trip, aside from the fact we had the most wonderful vacation of our lives, is that I was without my cell phone for the entire week.

Now that may not seem like a big deal to many people but for someone who has been addicted to his cell phone for many years, it was true withdrawal. The reason I went “cell phoneless” is that the roaming charges I would have had to pay were astronomical so I thought… hmmm maybe I can do without my phone. Let’s see….

And lo and behold, nothing bad happened to me. In fact, I sort of enjoyed it. It is a liberating feeling to be let loose from technology at least a little bit. I have to confess, I still had access to email but I wasn’t crazy about it. I looked at it and responded to things that were critical but I deleted about 99 per cent of what I saw. Very unlike what I would have done had I been at home.

I did see quite a few people at the resort we were staying at conversing on their phones. I’m not criticizing them. I understand what they were doing. But it was liberating just the same to not do what they did.

A true vacation is one where the constraints of the outside world aren’t there. Technology is a wonderful thing… but as one of my friends put it about being on his cell phone- a Blackberry no less- “the good news is that I’m always available… the bad news is that I’m always available…”

I worry that we are getting farther and farther away from that. I never ever saw myself getting away from my cell phone. Ever. But now that I’ve done it once, I can’t wait to do it again.

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