Globally, osteoarthritis (OA) is the third most rapidly rising condition associated with disability. We know the disease affects people of all ages, and given the current rate of population aging, it is estimated that the number of people who suffer from this disease will double in the next three decades. These are staggering statistics that we are actively trying to change.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are not effective treatments for hand or knee osteoarthritis (OA), according to a new meta-analysis. The drugs are commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other forms of inflammatory arthritis, but researchers in the United Kingdom (UK) found they were no better than placebo for OA pain. Their findings appeared in June 2018 in Rheumatology.
DMARDs aren’t pain medications. They’re meant to slow the disease and prevent further damage to joints and organs by suppressing inflammation. When DMARDs work, pain usually improves as inflammation gets under control.
When it comes to easing the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis (OA), the more weight loss, the better, according to researchers at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In a study published recently online in Arthritis Care & Research, Stephen Messier, PhD, and colleagues report that overweight and obese adults aged 55 and older with knee OA who lost 20 percent or more of their body weight saw far greater improvements in pain, function, quality of life, inflammation and knee joint stress than those who lost less.
In an earlier trial, the same researchers found that a weight loss of 10 percent – the amount the National Institutes of Health recommends for overweight and obese adults – improved mobility and decreased pain by 50 percent over an 18-month period. In their latest findings, they say doubling weight loss can cut pain and improve function by another 25 percent.
A new study takes a look at which approaches are best to bring relief to people with knee osteoarthritis (OA), a condition that affects approximately 20 percent of people over the age of 45 in the United States.
Knee OA can be extremely painful and limit a person’s ability to function. Although there is no cure, numerous treatments are available to reduce symptoms, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Exercising and losing weight if a patient is overweight or obese also can help. Total knee replacement surgery is effective but is done only in cases where the disease is advanced and it’s medically necessary.
So, which treatment is best? To help sort out the choices, a group of researchers set out to assess how the available non-surgical drug treatments stack up against each other for providing pain relief and improving physical function. The authors did not address lifestyle changes, like weight loss and exercise. The study was published recently in Journal of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS).
If you have osteoarthritis (OA), you know all about joint pain and stiffness. One cause of these symptoms is the fact that hyaluronic acid (HA), a naturally occurring joint lubricant, breaks down in people with OA. To help alleviate the pain, your doctor might recommend treatment with hyaluronic acid injections – sometimes known as gel injections.
What are HA injections?
HA injections replace missing joint lubricant and are currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the knees. However, some doctors may use the injections in shoulders and hips as well.
The treatments will most likely take place in your doctor’s office. The HA will be injected directly into the joint. The shots are usually given once a week for three to five weeks, depending on the brand used.
Before you take another bite of that convenient fast food meal, consider how it affects your osteoarthritis (OA). Research shows that diets high in saturated fat – found in red meat, butter, cheese, lard and processed foods – can weaken knee cartilage, making it more prone to damage.
A 2017 study published in Arthritis Care & Research, researchers followed more than 2,000 patients with OA for up to four years, checking disease progression and diet at yearly intervals. Participants who ate the most fat, especially the saturated kind, showed increasing joint damage, whereas those who ate healthy fats like olive oil and avocados had little disease progression. Another recent animal study showed that it even may harm the underlying bone, according to Yin Xiao, PhD, a professor at Queensland University of Technology in Australia and lead author of a 2017 study that looked at the effect of diet on OA.
“Our findings suggest that it’s not wear and tear but diet that has a lot to do with the onset of osteoarthritis,” he says.
A new study found that hydroxychloroquine, a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) sometimes used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and lupus, does not reduce pain related to osteoarthritis (OA) of the hand, possibly ending the hope for an easy solution to a challenging problem.
Pain from hand OA affects an estimated 3 percent to 15 percent of adults over 60 and up to 31 percent of those over 70, making daily tasks difficult and diminishing quality of life. Increasing evidence suggests that low levels of inflammation may be an important source of pain in hand OA, at least in some people. Few medications are effective for hand OA other than traditional pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), acetaminophen and, in more intractable cases, opioids – all of which have side effects and can’t be used in certain populations. Researchers have been looking for other treatments.
It is clear that physical activity is one of the best ways to combat osteoarthritis pain—but how important are your shoes, and which should you be wearing?
In addition to traditional treatment methods for OA, which include medication, physical therapy and even surgery, doctors now know that footwear can play an important role in knee OA.
Marian T. Hannan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass., has conducted research about foot mechanics and pain in the knee. “It is impressive to think that [footwear] makes a difference,” says Hannan. “Whether it’s their foot or brain or the whole package, it appears to work. As a proof of concept it is very appealing.”
There are a wide variety of shoe options available to consider, including stability sneakers, flat walking shoes, minimalist/barefoot sneakers, and rocker-soled sneakers, and an increasing amount of research that can help you decide which is right for you.
Studies have shown that racial minorities in the United States undergo fewer total knee replacements (TKR) for knee osteoarthritis (OA) than whites do, but the reasons for this are unclear. A new study sheds light on why fewer black Americans tend to have the surgery – and at what cost. It found that African-Americans are offered the option of TKR in fewer cases than whites are, they accept the option less frequently, and when they do undergo the procedure, they have higher rates of complications. Because of these factors, they lose a large number of what’s called “quality-adjusted life years” or QALYs.
People with hip or knee osteoarthritis (OA) use oral pain medications more often than nondrug pain treatments, such as physical therapy, knee joint injections and topical creams, according to an analysis of three clinical trials. That’s in spite of guidelines that recommend trying nondrug treatments before medications.
The analysis, which appeared recently in Arthritis Care & Research, looked at trials conducted by researchers at Duke University, the Durham Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care System and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, all in North Carolina. A total of nearly 1,200 patients ages 61 to 65 participated in the three studies. All participants had knee or hip OA, and most were overweight and treated by a primary care doctor. None got the minimum 150 minutes of physical activity a week recommended for good health.