Chondroitin sulfate improves osteoarthritis (OA) knee pain and functional limitations in walking and daily activities as effectively as the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib (Celebrex), according to a new study published recently in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. But U.S. readers should know, there’s a catch: the researchers tested a version of chondroitin sulfate that is not available in this country.
Losing excess weight may help preserve knee cartilage in people who have or are at risk of knee osteoarthritis (OA), according to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), whose findings were recently published online in the journal Radiology. Knee cartilage is the rubbery, slick cap that covers the ends of the upper (femur) and lower (tibia) leg bones that make up the knee joint.
Their study also found that shedding extra pounds protected the menisci, the crescent-shaped cartilage pads that cushion the knee joint. Lead author Alexandra Gersing, MD, a postdoctoral scholar at UCSF School of Medicine, says this is especially important because a torn or damaged meniscus can speed up the degeneration of the knee joint overall.
Continue reading Study Confirms That Losing Weight May Save Your Knees
A relatively new treatment for knee osteoarthritis (OA) appears to reduce pain better than traditional corticosteroid injections, according to a study published recently in International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases.
Continue reading New Pain Treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis Targets Nerves
For some people with knee osteoarthritis (OA), hyaluronic acid (HA) injections can relieve pain and improve function – sometimes dramatically. During the procedure, hyaluronic acid– a substance similar to the naturally occurring gel-like lubricant that is found in the synovial fluid surrounding joints – is injected into the knee. Because people with OA have a lower than normal concentration of hyaluronic acid in their joints, the theory is that adding the lubricant to the arthritic joint will reduce pain and help with movement.
But HA injections, also called viscosupplements, don’t work for everyone: Studies have shown that between 30 and 40 percent of patients who are given HA shots for knee OA don’t experience a reduction in pain or an improvement in function. And studies have not provided any insight into which patients are most or least likely to benefit from them.
Continue reading Study Supports Hyaluronic Acid Shots for Knee Osteoarthritis in Certain Patients
While the use of nutritional supplements for osteoarthritis (OA) has focused largely on the duo of glucosamine and chondroitin, research suggests that a popular supplement for heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis may also help OA – fish oil. Fish oil is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential fatty acids our body needs to function properly.
Most studies of the effectiveness of fish oil for osteoarthritis have been done on animals, but a few studies have also been done in humans.
Continue reading Does Fish Oil Fight Osteoarthritis?
Traditionally, treatment for osteoarthritis has been limited to relieving pain. Scientists have found hope that drugs used to treat osteoporosis may be useful in treating not only osteoarthritis (OA) pain, but cartilage damage as well.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bone tissue breaks down faster than it is replaced, causing the bones to become brittle and prone to fracture. Bisphosphonates, a class of drugs commonly prescribed for osteoporosis, work by inhibiting cells called osteoclasts that break down bone. Researchers believe they may work similarly for OA, by inhibiting the activity of osteoclasts in the bone beneath the cartilage in affected joints.
In animal studies, bisphophonates have shown to reduce OA progression – as measured by the severity of cartilage damage and bony overgrowth – by as much as 30–40%. Continue reading Potential New Treatment for Osteoarthritis
Recent research shows that statins — the drugs people take to lower their cholesterol — may also lower their chances of getting osteoarthritis or delay its progression.
Traditionally, treatment for osteoarthritis (OA) has been limited to relieving symptoms and replacing joints with prostheses once they become irreparably damaged. However, researchers are actively looking for treatments that will not only ease OA’s pain and stiffness, but will slow, stop – or even prevent – the progression of joint damage. Statins may be one possible answer.
Proof That Statins May Work Against OA
Several studies have found that all other things being equal (age, weight, comorbid conditions, for example) people taking statins either had a lower prevalence of OA or had slower-progressing OA than those who didn’t take the drugs.
Continue reading Stopping Osteoarthritis with Statins?
A popular dietary supplement appears to slow the progression of knee osteoarthritis (OA) and is as effective at controlling pain as a widely used prescription medication, according to a study presented at the 2015 American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting. A team of Canadian researchers found that, over a span of two years, patients with knee OA who took chondroitin sulfate, which is sold over the counter (OTC), lost less knee cartilage than a second group of patients treated with the prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) celecoxib (Celebrex). This new study fuels an ongoing debate over whether OA patients can benefit from OTC supplements such as chondroitin.
Chondroitin is a naturally occurring molecule your body uses to build healthy cartilage, the shock-absorbing tissue that protects the ends of bones where they form joints. (Gradual loss of cartilage leads to the pain, stiffness and other symptoms of OA.) Chondroitin supplements are made from cartilage taken from animals, such as sharks and cows, though they also can be produced synthetically. In theory, the supplements help restore lost cartilage, though some evidence suggests that they reduce inflammation, too. Chondroitin is often sold in combination with another dietary supplement marketed for joint health, glucosamine.
Continue reading Can Chondroitin Slow Knee Osteoarthritis?
Can Vitamin D help prevent the onset of osteoarthritis (OA) or slow joint damage if you already have OA? While study results have been mixed, in general, they suggest that Vitamin D may be protective in OA.
Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption by the body to enable bone growth and repair. Because osteoarthritis has a bone growth component, researchers have been examining the potential role of vitamin D in osteoarthritis development and progression.
What the Studies Show
Two studies published in 2014 looked at vitamin D levels in the blood of people with or at risk of OA. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that participants with low vitamin D levels had a more than 2-fold elevated risk of knee OA progression compared with those with greater vitamin D concentrations. The other, published in Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, found that among older adults, moderate vitamin D deficiency predicted new or worsening knee pain over 5 years.
Widely used by doctors to soften forehead wrinkles and reduce uncontrollably sweaty armpits, researchers are exploring botulinum toxin as a potential therapy for osteoarthritis (OA) pain.
“The Botox story is very intriguing,” says David Felson, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Boston University School of Medicine. “It isn’t just muscles. It can paralyze nerves. Just like celebrities injecting it into wrinkles, it could have the same effect on a hip muscle. Botox could paralyze the muscle that is transmitting pain.”
This toxin may eventually be used to treat OA patients whose pain is not sufficiently controlled by traditional medicines like NSAIDs or analgesics, and for patients who may experience adverse effects from those medicines, says Dr. Felson.