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Report: Self-management, strength training can benefit sufferers of osteoarthritis


January 14th, 2010 by Formosa Medical Travel

Self-management programs and strength training regimens can help patients suffering from the early stages of osteoarthritis, says a new report titled Multidimensional Intervention for Early Osteoarthritis of the Knee.


The study, conducted at the University of Arizona Arthritis center over the course of 24 months, had 273 participants. The trial compared the effects of strength training regimens, self-management programs, and a combination of the two.


All participants were between the ages of 35 and 65, diagnosed with osteoarthritis, and had been sufferers of knee pain for less than five years. The first group of participants underwent a strength training regimen over the course of nine months, focusing on improving muscle strength, range of motion, flexibility, and balance. The second group concentrated on developing long-term exercise habits, with professional education and treatment advice. The third group participated in both strength training and self-management.


201 of the 273 participants completed the full two-year trial. There was little difference in the outcomes of the three groups, but all three showed marked improvement in many categories. Self-reported pain was decreased across the board, and physical function test scores improved for all three groups. The lack of a difference between the three groups suggests “similar benefits for all three over a two-year period,” said Patrick McKnight, lead author of the study.


These results suggest that sufferers of osteoarthritis should make an effort in the early stages of the disease to undergo strength training or some method of self-management program. By taking a proactive approach to the affliction, sufferers of osteoarthritis may be able to delay the need for total joint replacement surgery.



Running shoes could exacerbate osteoarthritis


January 10th, 2010 by Formosa Medical Travel

A study published in the December 2009 issue of PM&R: The journal of injury, function, and rehabilitation concluded that the use of modern running shoes could cause damage to knee, hip, and ankle joints. The study, conducted on 68 healthy adult runners, showed surprising results.


For the study, subjects were observed using a treadmill with a motion analysis system. None of the participants had any history of musculoskeletal injury, and each was in the habit of running 15 miles per week. Each participant was required to run both barefoot and wearing typical running shoes. The results showed that running with shoes may increase the stress on knee joints by up to 38%. “There is an increase in joint torque that may be detrimental,” said D. Casey Kerrigan, MD, the author of the study.


This may serve as a call for shoemakers to redesign their products, making them more safe for runners. The study pointed to the attributes of the shoes as the possible cause of the problem, including elevated heels and raised arches. The added material in running shoes may counteract the body’s natural response to running, in the end doing more harm than good.


The increased stress on knee joints may lead to osteoarthritis if continued over a long period of time, it is theorized. However, Bruce Williams, a spokesman for the American Podiatric Medical Association, doubts this claim. “It’s much ado about nothing,” said Williams, concluding “there was an increase in joint forces, but that’s it.” The study was not designed to show a link between running shoes and osteoarthritis.



Treatments available for osteoarthritis of the knee


November 18th, 2009 by Formosa Medical Travel

Because the cause of osteoarthritis is not known, there is no immediate cure, say experts. The only option to permanently get rid of the disease is by removing it, via total joint replacement. Osteoarthritis can be the direct cause of knee stiffness, knee pain, loss of movement, and inflexibility. There are, however, treatments which can help reduce pain and delay the need for total knee replacement or total hip replacement.


Some anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Naproxen – marketed under names such as Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn, Proxen, and Synflex – can be used in pain reduction and to reduce inflammation in the short term. These drugs can be a relatively safe alternative to surgery, although they are not without their risks.


Some treatments that are growing in popularity are joint fluid therapy and hyaluronan therapy, in which injections are made into the afflicted area to help restore movement and reduce pain. These treatments – which go under a number of names, including Synvisc, Supartz, Hyalgan, Euflexxa, chicken shots, rooster juice, and viscosupplementation – can often delay the need for a knee replacement  by months, or even years. Cortisone shots are also sometimes administered as treatment. However, while some patients experience improvements in their condition, others report little to no benefit.


For younger, more active patients, a procedure known as knee osteotomy is sometimes used to shift the patient’s weight to the non-arthritic side of the knee. This is a less-invasive procedure, which can often delay the need for a total knee replacement for up to ten years.


For many patients, total joint replacement surgery is often the only long-term cure for osteoarthritis. In knee replacement surgery, surgeons replace the weight-bearing portions of the bone with artificial devices. This procedure, developed in the 1960s, has evolved over the years into one of the safest surgeries performed – although complications can occur in a small minority of patients. Knee replacements can last as long as 20 years in many patients, although the life of the device is dependent on many factors, such as the patient’s activity level.


For the millions of Americans suffering from debilitating knee pain and loss of mobility as a result of osteoarthritis, there are treatments. Anti-inflammatory drugs, joint fluid therapy, and knee osteotomy are all options that patients should consider when attempting to reduce knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. However, total knee replacement remains most successful treatment for curing osteoarthritis.






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