Those with arthritis can improve their symptoms with exercise

Those with arthritis can improve their symptoms with exercise

More than 24 million adults with arthritis are physically limited by the disease. That number represents a 20 percent increase from 2002 to 2014, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some have trouble holding a cup and others find it hard to walk to their car. About 54 million adults have arthritis, or about one in four, and the CDC says they can do more to improve their symptoms. Dr. Lynn M. Ludmer, a rheumatologist at Mercy Medical Center, says that exercise can reduce pain and prevent progression of the disease.

What is arthritis and how many people have it?

Simply put, arthritis refers to joint pain. Many people are surprised to learn that there are more than 100 different kinds of arthritis. The most common type is a degenerative disease called osteoarthritis which effects up to 50 percent of the adult population. Less common types of arthritis include inflammatory (rheumatoid, psoriatic), metabolic (gout) and even infectious (Lyme, parvovirus).

Most of us know someone with “knobby” knuckles which is a manifestation of osteoarthritis in the hand. Osteoarthritis results from deterioration of joint cartilage and underlying bone. It commonly affects the hands, knees, hips and spine. About 54 million adults in the United States have osteoarthritis resulting in an economic burden of more than $120 billion a year in medical bills and lost wages. In contrast, rheumatoid arthritis effects only 1-2 percent of the population, but carries a price tag over $20 billion annually.

At what age does arthritis typically strike adults and can younger people get it?

Inflammatory arthritis does not discriminate and can strike any at age, including infancy. Years ago there was a popular ad campaign featuring a photo of a young child in a wheelchair with the slogan “This little old lady has rheumatoid arthritis.” Osteoarthritis is more common with age, symptoms usually start after age 40. By age 85 it is estimated that 50 percent of the population has osteoarthritis of the knee and 25 percent have hip arthritis. The onset of osteoarthritis can be accelerated in people with a history of trauma, such as professional athletes. Genetic factors can also lead to earlier osteoarthritic symptoms. Recent studies show Americans are developing degenerative arthritis at a younger age. This earlier onset is thought to be related to the obesity epidemic. Statistics estimate that two in three adults are overweight and one in three are obese.

How can it affect physical ability or limit activity?

Symptoms of arthritis include joint pain, stiffness, swelling and loss of motion. Managing simple activities of daily living can be difficult depending on which joints are involved. Gripping a coffee cup or pen can be hard for those with arthritis in the hands. Walking up steps, bending and stooping can be problematic in those patients with knee symptoms. Hip arthritis can make it difficult to put on shoes and socks.

What can people do to improve symptoms on their own?

The first step for people with persistent or recurrent joint symptoms is to get a proper diagnosis. This is important since the various types of arthritis are treated differently. Usually this begins with a trip to a primary care doctor. Often a physical exam will clarify the problem, but sometimes blood work and imaging studies are needed. If an inflammatory arthritis is suspected then referral to a rheumatologist may be indicated. If the diagnosis of osteoarthritis is made then a good starting point is over the counter anti-inflammatory or analgesic medications. Unfortunately, there are no medications currently on the market which slow the progression of osteoarthritis. In contrast modern treatments for rheumatoid arthritis help control damage to the joints. Given its economic impact, there is great enthusiasm to develop such drugs to treat osteoarthritis.

It is important not to underestimate the role that lifestyle changes can make in easing the pain and preventing the progression of osteoarthritis. Several studies show that even modest amounts of weight reduction in the 10 pound range can improve knee pain and delay the need for joint replacement surgery. Obviously more robust weight loss can lead to even better results. It is a common misconception that patients with arthritis should not exercise. In fact regular exercise has been shown to reduce arthritis symptoms by 40 percent and delay the progression of osteoarthritis in the knees and hips. Exercise can include aerobic conditioning as well as strength and balance training. Low impact exercise such as walking, biking and the elliptical are good choices for many patients. Aquatic based exercise programs are a good alternative for those who find it too painful to exercise on land. The old adage “use it or lose” is especially applicable to arthritis patients.

Florida Joint & Spine Institute perform joint and spine surgery in patients with advanced disease. Physical and occupational therapists can help those who would benefit from assistive devices and need a supervised therapeutic exercise program. While we may still have a long way to go in finding the cure for arthritis, patients have many resources available to them to enhance their quality of life.

Drinking tequila could boost bone health

Drinking tequila could boost bone health

If you’re a fan of tequila we’ve got good news for you.

According to new research, tequila can help boost bone health.

Mexican scientists have discovered a substance in the tequila plant that helps boost the absorption of calcium.

The blue variety of the Agave tequilana plant also helps improves magnesium absorption – both compounds are essential for bone health.

Mercedes Lopez, from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies in Mexico, said: “The consumption of fructans contained in the agave [plant], in collaboration with adequate intestinal micriobiota, promotes the formation of new bone, even with the presence of osteoporosis.”

The research team tested the theory on mice with osteoporosis – a condition that weakens bones leaving them fragile and prone to breaking.

After eight weeks of taking the fructans from the tequila plant a bone sample was taken from the mice, according to Science Daily.

It was then tested for a protein that indicates the production of new bone.

The fructans work by sitting in the gut where they turn into fatty acids.

They are then able to catch minerals and transport them to cells, helping bones regenerate.

Lopez added: “It was found that mice that consumed this fructans synthesized nearly 50 percent more of such protein, in addition that the diameter of their bones was higher compared with the subjects which were not supplied with derivatives of the agave.

“This way, we have a second chance to take advantage of the nutrients that were no longer available to the body.

“However, it is very important that people have a healthy intestinal microbiome because only then it is possible that bacteria ferment fructans to transform them into fatty acids.”

The scientists hope the discovery will lead to a possible new treatment for osteoporosis, which affects nearly 200 million people worldwide.

Free Joint Pain Presentation

Join us for a FREE Joint Pain Presentation.
J.C. Alvarez, MD, FAAOS
Florida Joint & Spine Institute

Joint Pain: Treatment and Rapid Recovery Replacement

Thursday, March 9 at 6:30 pm
Florida Hospital Sebring
Conference Rooms 1 (second floor)

Register Today
863-402-3627

Arthritis: What it is and Current Treatments

Free Joint Pain Presentation

Maury Fisher, MD, FAAOS
Florida Joint & Spine Institute

Oh My Achy Joints:
Arthritis: What it is and Current Treatments

Thursday, February 9 at 6:30 pm

Florida Hospital Sebring Conference Rooms 1 (second floor)
Light refreshments provided

Register Today (863) 402-3627 I FHHeartland.org

Shoulder and pain treatment

Shoulder and pain treatment

As we age, staying active and exercising is more important then ever. We often find that joint pain or injury limits our ability to exercise.  Shoulder pain is a common condition that can affect people in all walks of life and it is very common in seniors due to the aging process.

The shoulder is a complex, highly mobile joint that is vulnerable to sprains, strains, tears, and inflammation. Common causes of shoulder pain are:
*Arthritis: Although there are many types of arthritis, it generally involves wear and tear changes with inflammation of the joint causing swelling, pain, and stiffness Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
*Bursitis:  The rotator cuff is a set of muscles and tendons that provides strength and stability to the shoulder joint.  Inflammation of the tendons around the shoulder can result from a wearing process, which can take years to develop, or be caused by an acute inflammation from sports or work activities. A tear of the rotator cuff may also be present.
*Bursitis:  The lubricating sac around the rotator cuff is called the bursa and can be irritated or inflamed with activity.
*Fracture or Instability:  An injury or fall can cause a break of one of the bones around the shoulder or force it out of its normal position in the joint.  Recurrent instability or dislocations may result in pain and unsteadiness of the arm.
*Frozen Shoulder:  Tightening or stiffening of the soft tissue around the shoulder joint can lead to a very painful restriction of motion of the shoulder.
*Cervical Disc Herniation:  A pinched nerve in the neck due to a ruptured disc or degenerative disc disease can often cause shoulder pain.

Important tools used to determine the source of shoulder pain include medical history, physical examination and x-rays.  Often, additional diagnostic tests are necessary such as an MRI.

Treatment generally involves altering activities, rest, anti-inflammatory measures (ice and medication), and physical therapy to help improve shoulder strength and flexibility.  90% of shoulder problems respond to these simple measures, although occasionally cortisone injections or surgery may be necessary.  Common sense solutions such as avoiding overexertion or overdoing activities in which you normally do not participate can help to prevent shoulder pain.

Many people ignore temporary minimal shoulder symptoms with few bad effects.  However, if your symptoms persist, an orthopaedist may provide timely diagnosis and treatment.  In the case of an acute injury, if the pain is intense, immediate medical attention should be sought.  Orthopaedists are specifically trained in the workings of the musculoskeletal system, including the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of problems involving muscles, bones, joints, ligaments and tendons.

Only 30 percent of Americans over age 65 exercise on a regular basis.  Just 30 minutes a day of physical activity will help improve your overall-health and quality of life, so do not let shoulder pain hold you back from enjoying your life.