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Insider Arthritis Tips Newsletter September 2010
September 15, 2010

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

I'm going to continue the same format as last month. Arthritis news seems to be what most people enjoy...

Novel topical agent eases pain of osteoarthritis
Bruce Jancin writing for Rheumatology News reported a study that described a strontium-chloride based topical agent has shown both effectiveness as well as safety in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Scientists from MAC (UK) Neuroscience Ltd. of Blackpool, England where the study was conducted recently reported the findings of a phase II study. The preparation, a liquid containing 10% strontium chloride hexahydrate was more effective than placebo in an 8 week study. The medication appears to work by blocking calcium driven pathways that are responsible for pain and inflammation. The preparation is applied 2 times a day with a roll on applicator.

Comment: As simple as putting on deodorant…

Tea-drinking increases risk of RA?

M Alexander Otto reports in Rheumatology News the following tidbit… Tea drinking may increase the risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis according to findings from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. Odds ratios were calculated from questionnaires. Women who drank more than 4 cups of tea per day had a slightly increased likelihood of getting rheumatoid arthritis although the finding was not statistically significant. Two previous studies have been published on tea drinking. One study said tea drinking protected against RA and the other showed no difference at all. If tea does increase the incidence of RA, it is felt that flavonoids present in tea may be the culprit.

Comment: Some studies leave me flat… but this one was my cup of tea.

When should polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) patients get a temporal artery biopsy?

According to Bruce Jancin writing in Rheumatology News, Dr. Miguel Gonzolez-Gay has the answers to this perplexing question… when should PMR patients get a biopsy of their temporal artery? He recommends the following people get biopsies…

1.Patients with classic PMR plus headache, ringing in the ears, visual complaints, and other symptoms suggesting brain problems.

2.Patients with PMR who don’t respond to 15-20 mgs of prednisone within seven days.

3. Patients with PMR who have a high fever or other systemic symptoms.

4. PMR with an ESR greater than 80 mm/hr.

Comment: I want to utter a word of caution: PMR may be confused with other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, bacterial endocarditis (infected heart valve), other infections, other malignancies.

And now some stories from Rheumatology Morning...

Protein associated with RA protects against Alzheimer's?
The St. Petersburg Times (Richard Martin,8/23/ 2010) reports, "It has been known for some years that people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. But now, researchers at the University of South Florida think they know why.
" Investigators there "found that a protein released into the bloodstream of people with rheumatoid arthritis provided protection against Alzheimer's in mice," according to a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
"In this study, University of South Florida researchers genetically altered mice to have memory problems similar to those seen in Alzheimer's disease," added Caroline Parkinson from the BBC.
Next, "they...treated them – and some healthy mice – with the" GM-CSF "protein. Other mice -- both healthy ones and those with Alzheimer's symptoms -- were given a dummy...treatment."
The UK's Andre Hough in the Telegraph, states that, "after 20 days, researchers found the memories of Alzheimer's mice injected with the protein had improved substantially compared with mice treated with a placebo."
According to the UK's Daily Mail (8/23), "while people with rheumatoid arthritis have to put up with swollen joints and decreased mobility, GM-CSF, the unique protein produced by the disease, stimulates scavenger cells."
The cells then "remove amyloid deposits left by Alzheimer's in the brain, lowering the risk of catching the disease and helping to restore memory."

Comment: Interesting stuff indeed. Which would you rather have?

Taking statins may reduce risk of RA.
BBC News (9/7) reported, "Taking statins may reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis," according to a study published in the journal PLOS Medicine. "Israeli researchers looked at 1.8m patients and found fewer incidents of the joint condition among those who took the cholesterol-busting drugs."
The UK's Press Association (9/8) reports the researchers theorize that "statins may inhibit the development of rheumatoid arthritis... by affecting immune system signalling pathways."
Taking statins did not seem to prevent osteoarthritis, however, the study noted.
Comment: Hmmm… is it worth the risk?

Wei's World September 2010

With fall in the air, I thought I’d share a deep, dark secret from my past.

Most people don’t know this about me. In college, I was on the football team. Now you have to understand this was at Swarthmore College, a small Quaker school outside of Philadelphia. If you could fog a mirror, you could be on the football team.

That isn’t to say we didn’t have some good players. We had some very good players who were highly recruited from high school. I was not one of them.

During my four years, I was at varying times a seventh string quarterback and got up as high as third string by my senior year. .. and that’s only because all the other guys ahead of me stopped playing to pursue other endeavors.

But I stuck with it. My friends were on the team and practice was a welcome break from the tedium and intensity of school work. For two hours a day, I got to take my mind off studying and do something physical.

I was one of the few people who actually looked forward to practice. I was what was called the scout quarterback. In other words, I ran the opposing team’s offense against the starting defense. It was my job to give the defense a good look at what they were going to face on Saturday. And I took that job pretty seriously.

People would sometimes ask me, “Why are you still on the football team… you never get to play?…”

And I understood where they were coming from. It seems stupid to be on a team if you’re never going to play in a game. But what they didn’t realize was that from Monday to Friday those days were my Saturdays. They were my “game days.”

And even if I never got to go in a game on Saturday, I still worked at getting better. I was a far better player as a senior than I was as a freshman… that’s for sure.

And being on a team teaches you a lot about life… getting along with others… the discipline of practice… and about overcoming adversity in general. Our team wasn’t very good and we got our butts kicked quite a bit. But we never quit. And I can say those lessons stood me in good stead for the future. There have been many times in my career as a doctor when it would have been easy to just pack it in, follow the crowd, not make waves, do the easy thing. But I’ve never done that.

Because if you care about something enough, you will try your hardest to be the best. And that’s why I’m telling you this story.

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