Category Archives: osteoarthritis

Managing arthritis in the hands – MNT

I have mentioned ‘personal posts’ previously. Well, arthritis pains in the hands are something I live with daily. It doesn’t get more personal than this. For the past 15 years. I have had trouble buttoning shirts, jackets, etc. I drop keys and other small objects regularly. Any activity that involves manipulating fingers and thumbs causes pain to me in a greater of lesser degree. I thought this rundown on managing arthritis in the hands by Medical News Today was very thorough. I hope this subject is never more than academic for you.

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This kind of simple activity can be difficult if you have arthritis of the hands.

Many bones in the body, including those of the wrists and hands, are protected by cartilage. Cartilage can wear down over time. As a result, a person can experience a condition known as osteoarthritis.

Another name for this type of arthritis is “wear and tear” arthritis. The most common causes of osteoarthritis include age, repetitive joint movement, trauma, and sex. Genetics can also play a factor in the development of osteoarthritis.

Arthritis in the hands may also be caused by rheumatoid arthritis or post-traumatic arthritis.

Fast facts on arthritis in hands:

Women are more likely than men to experience osteoarthritis.
There is no cure for any type of arthritis in hands.
Treatment focuses on relieving the pain and managing the underlying condition.
In rare instances, a doctor may recommend surgery to repair a severely damaged finger joint.

What types of arthritis affect the hands?

Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can affect the hands.

While osteoarthritis is due to degenerative changes in cartilage, RA is the result of an autoimmune condition.

RA occurs when the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue that protects the joints. The resulting symptoms can be similar to those of osteoarthritis, including pain, inflammation, and redness.

RA can occur with no risk factors. However, women are more likely to experience the condition than men. Those with a family history of RA, who are obese, or who smoke are also at a greater risk of developing it.

While a person can experience RA at any age, the most common age of onset is between 40 and 60.

A person can also experience post-traumatic arthritis in the hands. This occurs after a person has damaged their hands, such as in a sport-related injury or accident.

Broken or sprained fingers or wrists can also cause post-traumatic arthritis. Injuries can accelerate the breakdown of protective cartilage as well as cause inflammation. Continue reading

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Harvard offers hope for aging knees

I will be turning 78 in January and, thankfully, have yet to experience the kind of knee pain that many of my fellow seniors suffer. My brother, three years younger, got a titanium knee more than 10 years ago. My arthritis pain lives in the base of my thumbs, so I have trouble using my hands. Also, there is no surgery for hand arthritis. Harvard Health Letter has some positive words for those of you who have problem knees.

Stanford professor Michel Serres hikes the Dish on a regular basis.

Knee pain is common in older age, often caused by osteoarthritis (the wearing away of knee cartilage). Fortunately, there are ways to fool Father Time and postpone knee problems or even prevent them entirely. “In many cases, you can delay or avoid the need for surgical intervention, such as a knee replacement,” says Dr. Lars Richardson, an orthopedic surgeon with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

The aging knee

Your knees absorb a huge amount of pressure with every step — typically one-and-a-half times your body weight. That pressure, plus regular wear and tear, takes a toll over time. Muscles and ligaments get weaker. The knee’s two shock absorbers — pads of cartilage called menisci — start to deteriorate. So does the articular cartilage protecting the ends of the leg bones where they meet at the knee. If you have a family history of osteoarthritis, if you’re overweight, or if you’ve had some knee injuries, you may be more prone to this deterioration. Continue reading

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What about arthritis and surgery? Mayo Clinic

Since I suffer from arthritis in my hands daily, I hope I can be forgiven for being the slightest bit preoccupied with it. I was first diagnosed with it, about 15 years ago. At that time I was given an acrylic splint that I wore on my right hand. It partially immobilized the hand, but gave me a lot of functionality as my hand was stronger as a result. Living with pain is an ongoing and developing experience. I am not sure what will be next.

The Mayo Clinic offered the following in the Special Report of its Health Letter:

“Sometimes, more conservative treatments such as medications and physical therapy aren’t enough to relieve your arthritis signs and symptoms. In these cases, a number of surgical procedures may be considered to relieve pain, slow or prevent cartilage damage or restore mobility and stability. Common surgical procedures include:

“* Arthroscopic debridement – A thin tube (arthroscope) is inserted into the joint area through a small incision to suction away loose fragments of bone, cartilage or synovial tissue that may be causing pain. This is particularly helpful in treating ‘mechanical’ symptoms of arthritis, such as catching or locking.

“* Synovectomy – Often done in rheumatoid arthritis, this involves surgically removing inflamed synovial tissue to reduce pain and swelling, and possibly delaying or preventing- joint destruction.

“* Joint fusion – Often done when joint replacement isn’t an option, permanently fusing a joint in the spine, wrist or ankle or foot can reduce pain and improve stability, although flexibility of that joint is lost.

“* Joint replacement – Hip, knee, elbow and shoulder joints – and less commonly some of the joints of the hands – can all be replaced by artificial joints made of various materials. Advances continue to be made in artificial joint durability and the overall success of these procedures. In some cases, less invasive procedures such as partial knee replacement or hip replacements using smaller incisions are helping reduce recovery time. Modified anesthesia techniques, aggressive post-operative rehabilitation and better postoperative pain management are also contributing to quicker recovery times.”

Anecdotally, my brother had a titanium knee put in several years ago and he was discharged from the hospital the same day. That blew my mind at the time and still does.

The report concludes, “You may not be able to make arthritis pain totally go away or do everything that you once could. But you can make the most of what you can do, which includes fully utilizing the medical therapies available to you, leading a joint-healthy lifestyle and maintaining a positive attitude.”

Tony

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Is it safe to take ibuprofen for the aches and pains of exercise? – Harvard

I exercise regularly and I also suffer from severe arthritis of the hands, so the subjects of exercise and painkillers touch me where I live. Following is a very informative write up of painkillers in general and NSAIDs in particular by Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

“Not long ago, I took ibuprofen after a dental procedure and was amazed at how well it worked. Millions of people have had similar experiences with ibuprofen and related medications (called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs) when used for a number of conditions, including arthritis, back pain, and headache. That’s why NSAIDs are among the most commonly prescribed drugs worldwide.”

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Coincidentally, I stumbled across NSAIDs by accident. You can read about it in my post – What about a bubble on my elbow?

“More than a dozen different NSAIDs are available, including naproxen (as in Naprosyn or Aleve), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren) and indomethacin (Indocin). Aspirin is also an NSAID, though it is usually taken in small doses for its blood thinning effects (to prevent heart attack or stroke) rather than for pain.

NSAIDs are fairly safe, but not risk free

“The safety profile of NSAIDs is generally quite good, especially when taken in small doses for short periods of time. That’s why several of them, including ibuprofen and naproxen, are available in low doses over the counter in this country and elsewhere. Continue reading

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Is it Okay to Exercise if you Suffer from Arthritis?

Because arthritis sufferers experience pain when they move, many conclude that not moving is healthier because it doesn’t hurt. Unfortunately, that is one instance where listening to your body is not the best course of action. I hope the following information will alter that conclusion.

First, some startling statistics on arthritis from Ashley Boynes.

Some 50 million Americans have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. That’s 22 per cent of the population, more than 1-in-5 adults!

Arthritis costs the US economy $128 BILLION per year.

Sad statistic – 31 per cent of US 18-64 year olds with arthritis either can’t work, or report work limitations.

Arthritis is the number one MOST COMMON disability.

Some 32 percent of veterans surveyed in 36 States had been diagnosed with arthritis, compared with 22 percent of non-veterans, representing a 50 per cent increased risk for arthritis for veterans.

More than 1,000,000 joints will be replaced this year alone.

To answer the question about suitability of exercising with arthritis, I recently attended a Northwestern Memorial Hospital Healthy Transitions presentation on Arthritis and Exercise.
Continue reading

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5 Ways to manage arthritis pain – Harvard

No one has to explain arthritis pain to me. I have lived with it in both my hands, at the base of my thumbs, for years.

Arthritis is a painful problem that can interfere with your ability to do the things you enjoy. But you can take steps to manage arthritis by protecting your joints, reducing discomfort, and improving mobility.

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Physical or occupational therapists can be very helpful in teaching you how to modify activities and accomplish daily tasks more easily in order to manage arthritis. But there are simple things you can do for yourself, starting today. Here are five of them:

Keep moving. Avoid holding one position for too long. When working at a desk, for example, get up and stretch every 15 minutes. Do the same while sitting at home reading or watching television. Continue reading

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Running actually reduces some inflammation – Study

Running may also slow the process that leads to osteoarthritis

As regular readers know, I ride my bike nearly daily,  here in Chicago. A hundred years ago, it seems, I ran daily. I stopped running because I enjoy bike riding more.

We all know that running causes a bit of inflammation and soreness, and that’s just the price you pay for cardiovascular health. You know; no pain, no gain.

Running

Well, maybe not. New research from BYU exercise science professors finds that pro-inflammatory molecules actually go down in the knee joint after running.
In other words, it appears running can reduce joint inflammation.“It flies in the face of intuition,” said study coauthor Matt Seeley, associate professor of exercise science at BYU. “This idea that long-distance running is bad for your knees might be a myth.” Continue reading

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Daily aspirin benefits outweigh risk to stomach – Study

As a daily consumer of aspirin for the arthritis in my hands, I was pleased to run across this new study from Cardiff University on the drug’s benefits.

Stomach bleeds caused by aspirin are considerably less serious than the spontaneous bleeds that can occur in people not taking the drug, concludes a study led by Cardiff University.

 

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Published in the journal Public Library of Science, the extensive study of literature on aspirin reveals that while regular use of the drug increases the risk of stomach bleeds by about a half, there is no valid evidence that any of these bleeds are fatal.

Professor Peter Elwood from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine said: “Although many people use aspirin daily to reduce the risk of health problems such as cancer and heart disease, the wider use of the drug is severely limited because of the side effect of bleeding from the stomach…”

“With our study showing that there is no increased risk of death from stomach bleeding in people who take regular aspirin, we hope there will be better confidence in the drug and wider use of it by older people, leading to important reductions in deaths and disablement from heart disease and cancer across the community.”

Professor Peter Elwood, School of Medicine
Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death and disability across the world, and research has shown that a small daily dose of aspirin can reduce the occurrence of both diseases by around 20-30%.

Recent research has also shown that low-doses of aspirin given to patients with cancer, alongside chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, is an effective additional treatment, reducing the deaths of patients with bowel, and possibly other cancers, by a further 15%.

The study ‘Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials to ascertain fatal gastrointestinal bleeding events attributable to preventive low-dose aspirin: No evidence of increased risk’ can be found in Public Library of Science.

Tony

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Exercise can ease arthritis pain – Harvard

We don’t need excuses to blow off exercising. It’s too hot/too cold, I’m too tired/too sore, you name it. When you have a chronic condition like rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, you have a built in excuse for not exercising. It might hurt.

As the Harvard Health Publication says, “Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can cause pain and stiffness that makes moving the last thing you want to do.

“But staying active is important. Not only is it beneficial for your general health — it’s also a way to strengthen your joints, improve your range of motion, and give you the opportunity to take part in the activities you enjoy.

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“For people with RA, it’s best to take a cautious and strategic approach when starting an exercise program. An individualized program — ideally developed with the help of a physical therapist — can help you protect vulnerable joints while strengthening surrounding muscles. A well-rounded exercise program should include each of these elements: Continue reading

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6 ways to use your mind to control pain – Harvard

In an effort to keep as many foreign substances outside of my circulatory system, I take as few drugs as possible. Since I suffer from arthritis of the hands, I have to resist the temptation to get into painkillers daily. I fear the side effects more than my hands hurting.

The Harvard Health Publications offer  a number of techniques, some of them age old, that may reduce one’s need for pain medication.

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No respecter of age, arthritis pain can strike in numerous places.

The following techniques can help you take your mind off the pain and may help to override established pain signals.

1. Deep breathing. It’s central to all the techniques, so deep breathing is the one to learn first. Inhale deeply, hold for a few seconds, and exhale. To help you focus, you can use a word or phrase to guide you. For example, you may want to breathe in “peace” and breathe out “tension.” There are also several apps for smartphones and tablets that use sound and images to help you maintain breathing rhythms. Continue reading

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How to Relieve Osteoarthritis Pain – WebMD

Regular readers know that I am an osteoarthritis (OA) sufferer, probably for at least 15 years. I have it in my hands, the base of each thumb. So it hurts me to turn a key, unbutton a shirt or pretty much any grasping motion. I read about OA whenever I can. I try new methods of pain relief and have chronicled many of them in these pages. Just search the term a r t h r i t i s on the right to check them out.

Now comes WebMD with a quiz on how to relieve OA pain. With my experience you might guess that I would do very well on such a quiz. You (and I) would be wrong. I only got 10 out of 17 answers right. So, there is always room for improvement, even for a long time OA sufferer who writes a blog a good health.

I am not going to spoil your fun and give you the answers, but I will share a couple of questions and you can see how well you do.

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The first question: Eating oranges and grapefruit triggers osteoarthritis pain. True or false?

Here is a good one: Which is best for relieving osteoarthritis pain? Heat; Ice; Heat or ice; Alternating between them.

How much extra stress does each pound of weight put on your hips? Twice as much; Three times; Six times; Eight times. If you are overweight, it is worth taking the quiz just to find out the answer. Good luck!

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this.

Tony

 

 

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Drink Milk? Women Who Do May Delay Knee Osteoarthritis

“Milk consumption plays an important role in bone health,” explains lead author Bing Lu, M.D., Dr.P.H., from Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass. “Our study is the largest study to investigate the impact of dairy intake in the progression of knee OA.”

As an arthritis sufferer, I have posted about it numerous times: Lifestyle Techniques to Ease Arthritis Pain – Mayo Clinic, Four Ways Exercise Helps With Arthritis – Harvard, How Can I Get Relief From Arthritis in my Hands? Shoulder Arthritis – Causes and Treatment Options, What You Should Know About Arthritis is a Page of Arthritis Links.

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

New research reports that women who frequently consume fat-free or low-fat milk may delay the progression of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. Findings published in the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) journal, Arthritis Care & Research, indicate that women who ate cheese saw an increase in knee OA progression. Yogurt did not impact OA progression in men or women.

OA is a common, degenerative joint disease that causes pain and swelling of joints in the hand, hips, or knee. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), OA affects nearly 27 million Americans age 25 and older, with knee OA being more prevalent and severe in women. While medical evidence points to obesity, joint injury, and repetitive use from some sports as risk factors for incident knee OA, risks associated with OA progression remain unclear.

“Milk consumption plays an important role in bone health,” explains lead author Bing…

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Restless Sleep Tied to Pain in Seniors.

I have written about the importance of sleep a number of times. Now, the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services  through its HealthDay News says,  “Waking up and not feeling rested isn’t just annoying. Researchers say that “non-restorative sleep” is the biggest risk factor for the development of widespread pain in older adults.

Widespread pain that affects different parts of the body — the main characteristic of fibromyalgia — affects 15 percent of women and 10 percent of men over age 50, according to previous studies.

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To identify the triggers of such widespread pain, British researchers compiled demographic data as well as information on the pain and physical and mental health of more than 4,300 adults older than 50. About 2,700 had some pain at the study’s start, but none had widespread pain.

The results, published Feb. 13 in Arthritis & Rheumatology, show that restless sleep as well as anxiety, memory problems and poor health play a role in the development of this type of pain.

Three years after the study began, 19 percent of the participants had new widespread pain, the researchers found.

This new pain in various parts of the body was worse for those who had some pain at the beginning of the study. Of those with some prior pain, 25 percent had new widespread pain. Meanwhile, 8 percent of those with no pain at the start of the study had widespread pain three years later.

“While osteoarthritis is linked to new onset of widespread pain, our findings also found that poor sleep, [memory], and physical and psychological health may increase pain risk,” concluded the study’s leader, Dr. John McBeth, from the arthritis research center at Keele University in Staffordshire, England.

“Combined interventions that treat both site-specific and widespread pain are needed for older adults,” McBeth added in a journal news release.

Increasing age, however, was linked to a lower chance of developing widespread pain. Muscle, bone and nerve pain is more common among older people. Up to 80 percent of people 65 and older experience some form of pain on a daily basis, according to the news release.

To read further on the value of sleep – How Important is a Good Night’s Sleep.

Tony

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Lifestyle Techniques to Ease Arthritis Pain – Mayo Clinic

As regular readers know, I suffer from arthritis. Mine is in my hands at the base of each thumb. Because of it, I have difficulty turning a key in a lock, buttoning and unbuttoning clothes and generally using my hands to grasp. So, I am always on the lookout for tips on living with arthritis and dealing with the pain.  More than half of us over age 65 suffer from some variety of osteoarthritis. After age 65 more than 75 percent of arthritis sufferers are women.

“You can relieve much of the discomfort of arthritis by adopting a healthy lifestyle and using simple self-care techniques,” so says the Mayo Clinic in its book The Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging.

arthritis body

Following are the guidelines for living with arthritis from the Mayo Clinic:

“Control your weight. Excess weight puts added stress on joints in your back, hips, knees and feet. Excess weight can also make joint replacement surgery more difficult.

“Develop an exercise program. Appropriate exercie helps keep joints flexible and builds muscle strength. Work with your doctor.

“Apply heat, especially before exercising. It will ease your pain, relax painful tense muscles and increase blood flow in the area.

“Apply cold for occasional flareups. Cold may dull the sensation of pain the first day or two. It can also decrease muscle spasms.

“Wear comfortable shoes that properly support your weight. This is especially important if you have arthritis in your weight-bearing joints or back.

 “Maintain good posture. Poor posture causes uneven weight distribution and may strain your ligaments and muscles. Walking can improve your posture.

“Practice relaxation techniques. Hypnosis, guided imagery, deep breathing and muscle relaxation can all be used to control pain.

“If you’re tired, rest. Prioritize your energy. Arthritis can make  you prone to deep exhaustion.”

I recommend checking out the Mayo Clinic book which has tons of useful information on virtually every aspect of aging.

For further info on arthritis, the following posts may be helpful: How do I get relief from Arthritis in my hands, Shoulder Arthritis, Diet and exercise for knee Arthritis, Four ways exercise helps with Arthritis – Harvard, How to handle Arthritis through natural healing, Oleda Baker on Arthritis and Alcohol, Is it Okay to exercise with Arthritis?

Tony

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Oleda Baker on Arthritis and Alcohol – Guest Post

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As you can see from her photos, Senior Supermodel Oleda Baker is aging magnificently. I interviewed Oleda in December. She is a treasure trove of information on everything this blog stands for, namely healthy living and healthy aging, so I asked her if she would share some of her ideas with us. She has written 10 books on beauty and health. Her latest, written at the age of 75, Breaking the Age Barrier – Great Looks and Health at Every Age – was released in November 2010 and is available from Amazon or from her website www.oleda.com where she also sells her own line of health and beauty aids.

A while back a major Scandinavian study showed that consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol reduced the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis by 50%. That might be true, But, don’t misinterpret those results. Drinking can only help prevent the development of Rheumatoid arthritis; it works just the opposite if you already have the disease.

So, if you already have rheumatoid arthritis, don’t drink alcohol.

Alcohol interferes with the effectiveness of arthritis medications, making your pain worse. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition. According to the Annals of Epidemiology, chronic, excessive alcohol increases inflammation in your body.

Medications are essential to cope with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. But, taking lots of drugs can damage your liver. Excessive alcohol inflames the liver and affects how it functions.
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Too many drinks put you at risk for hypertension, heart disease and stroke. Rheumatoid arthritis is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to the American College of Rheumatology.

Alcohol causes weight gain. Health professionals often recommend shedding pounds to help improve rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Some 30 million people suffer from arthritis; most of them have osteoarthritis. Continue reading

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