Arthritis Newsbytes

 Menstuff® has compiled the following newsbytes on Arthritis. Get answers to your basic questions at the Arthritis Center and the Rheumatoid Arthritis Center.


Arthritis Nutrition Facts: Eating Well, Now and Later

It's easy to let nutrition slide when coping with arthritis. Stay strong with these simple tips.

Arthritis Overview

The condition that we commonly refer to as arthritis includes a number of diseases that result in inflammation, pain and stiffness, primarily in the joints and connective tissues.


Bursitis is a common condition that often occurs when a joint is overused, such as when throwing a baseball or painting a wall.


In most cases, arthritis is diagnosed after an individual contacts his or her health care professional because chronic pain has begun to interfere with daily life.


Myositis is the medical term for muscle inflammation. In myositis, inflammation damages the fibers of a muscle.

Arthritis Diet Claims: Fact or Fiction?

Has someone told you tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers will make your arthritis worse? Did you hear that gin-soaked raisins will ease your suffering? Find out if these arthritis remedies really work.

Exercising With Osteoarthritis

Exercise is an important part of treating arthritis, but which exercises are OK when you've got osteoarthritis? Check out our Health Guide to learn more.

FDA Approves Enbrel To Treat Ankylosing Spondylitis

FDA approved an application for etanercept (trade-name Enbrel), a genetically engineered protein, for a new indication for treatment of patients with active ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a chronic inflammatory disease affecting primarily the lower back and joints. Etanercept is also licensed for treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.

Study Shows Effectiveness Of B-Cell Depletion Therapy

Characterized by inflammation and joint damage, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a serious and painful form of arthritis caused by the dysfunction of the immune system. Researchers have long traced the cause of the disease to the body's T cells, an important type of cells that regulates immunity. Various T-cell targeted therapies have been used with limited success.

A Costly New Drug Helps Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers

For this kind of relief, Charlene Box is willing to inject herself every two weeks, slipping the needle under the surface of her skin at 5 a.m., so early that she's too groggy to dwell on what she's doing.

Lipids Get The Spotlight In New NIGMS 'Glue Grant'

While genes and proteins have long held starring roles in biomedical research, lipids -- fats and oils -- often have a more direct effect on human health. A new grant from the National Institutes of Health puts lipids at center stage in an ambitious scientific project that promises to shed light on heart disease, arthritis and other major illnesses.

Study Shows Inflammation Of Tissue Lining Joints Among Patients With Osteoarthritis Of The Knee And Hip

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the world's most common form of joint disease, primarily affecting the elderly. According to experts, up to 50 percent of America's baby boomers - men and women over age 50 - may be affected. A degenerative illness, OA is characterized by cartilage damage, pain, stiffness, and sometimes disability. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, a joint disease that affects young adults, it is not generally thought that inflammation causes OA.

Ceramics Offer New Promise In Hip Replacements

Dr. Joseph Brown's pain radiated from his back down his right leg to his foot, worsening to the point that it awakened him at night.

Aging Boomers Drive Up Doctor Visits

Over half (53 percent) of patients visiting the doctor in 2001 were over age 45, according to the latest annual report from CDC's National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which looks at the medical care provided in physicians' offices. That's compared to 42 percent in 1992.

New Evidence For Genetic Role In Autoimmune Diseases

Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is an autoimmune connective tissue disease characterized by changes in the skin--thickening, hardness, discoloration, ulcerations--as well as joint stiffness, swelling of fingers, and sensitivity to the cold. In addition to being painful and sometimes disfiguring, SSc can cause damage to small blood vessels within the skin and internal organs. Researchers have suspected genetic factors play a role occurs recurs infrequently in families, genetic linkage studies of SSc have proven difficult.

Pain Of Juvenile Arthritis May Reduce School And Social Activity

Scientists studying children with juvenile arthritis have found that increased pain and fatigue are linked to reduced participation in school and social activity. In addition, the researchers, led by Laura E. Schanberg, M.D., of Duke University Medical Center, noted that anxiety is also significantly associated with increased pain and fatigue.

Swimming Can Contribute To Rebuilding Bone Strength

Skeletal bone is living tissue and requires constant turnover, accomplished through a process that repairs damage and alters bone mass in response to needs. For most of the time, the skeleton responds to mechanical loading generated though exercise by increasing bone mass and strength. In human studies, bone development and bone mechanical properties are indicated by bone mineral density (BMD).
Source: American Physiological Society,

FDA OKs New Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug

The government has approved sale of a new drug for rheumatoid arthritis that works like two older competitors -- but may prove easier to take.

Indian Scientists Discuss Cheaper Treatment For Arthritis

Medical scientists from India and abroad met Friday to explore making cheaper medicines for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis -- a disease afflicting more than 50 million people worldwide.

Jailed Conn. Man Donates Stem Cells

Two months after being sent to Virginia to finish serving an 11-year prison sentence for burglary, John "J.T." Glasper returned to Connecticut to save his brother's life.

Splints and Braces Take the Pressure Off

A splint or brace can take the pressure off joints, especially in the wrist or hand, and protect them from injury.

Be Sure Your Exercise Program Supports Your Recovery

If you have arthritis, regular exercise may help, provided the exercise program is tailored to your needs and abilities and is combined with an appropriate amount of recovery time.

Common Forms Of Arthritis

Although there are more than 100 forms of arthritic conditions, four of the most common disorders include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and gout.

Valuable Web Site for Those with Arthritis

If you suffer from some form of arthritis, take a moment to bookmark these pages for current news about your condition:


Rheumatoid Arthritis:


Study Shows Enbrel Treats Psoriasis

Biotechnology giant Amgen Inc. said Friday that a pivotal study involving Enbrel proved the arthritis drug's ability to treat against moderate-to-severe psoriasis.

Competition Expected For New, Improved Psoriasis Drugs

No clear winner is emerging in a horse race among big biotechnology firms to provide better and safer relief to patients with serious cases of psoriasis, experts said at a conference for dermatologists this week in San Francisco.

Many Benefits of a Good Physical Therapist

As part of a comprehensive plan for arthritis treatment, you may choose to visit an occupational therapist or a physical therapist. Learn the difference between the two -- and how each may be able to help ease your arthritis pain.

U.S. Debates Risks Of 4 Arthritis Drugs - March 04, 2003

Increasing reports of major side effects -- cancer and liver failure -- are spurring the government to reassess the safety of rheumatoid arthritis drugs that gave patients unprecedented hope when they began hitting the market four years ago.

Mediterranean Diet Soothes Aching Joints

Foods rich in antioxidants help people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Fighting Autoimmune Diseases

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced the release of a comprehensive research plan from HHS' National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fight autoimmune diseases, a collection of disorders including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis that affect an estimated 14 to 22 million Americans. The plan will foster research to identify genetic, environmental and infectious causes of autoimmune diseases and to develop new treatments and prevention strategies.

Purdue Pharma, Maker Of Painkiller Oxycontin Starts Ad Campaign

The maker of the painkiller OxyContin is starting an advertising campaign in U.S. newspapers to highlight its efforts to combat abuse of the powerful prescription drug.

Scleroderma Research Receives A Boost From Multiple NIH Grants

Ten new research grants on scleroderma (systemic sclerosis) have been funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grants, totaling more than million per year, include both basic and clinical research studies. The Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH) co-funded two of the grants.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients With HMO Coverage May Not Have Access To New Medications

Health maintenance organizations strive to lower the cost of rheumatoid arthritis care by reducing the use of new medications, not by lowering the number of hospital admissions or surgeries, according to research presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Source: American College of Rheumatology,

Care By A Rheumatologist Means Better Treatment For Many Arthritis Sufferers

Greater access to a rheumatologist, a specialist who treats arthritis, may mean better care and an earlier start of treatment for patients with arthritis, according to research presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Source: American College of Rheumatology,

New Knees When Other Options Fail

When lesser measures can no longer control the pain and disability of arthritic knees, surgery to reconstruct or replace them then becomes a consideration. But only a consideration.

First Step In Treating Arthritis -- Keep Moving

These are boom times for companies that make products that aim to treat osteoarthritis, the leading cause of disability in the United States.

What types of exercise are best for people with arthritis?


Arthritis - Your Reward For Wear And Tear

Nearly 21 million Americans are all too familiar with the pain of osteoarthritis, a leading cause of life-changing disability in this country. It is a chronic condition that can only become more common as the population grows older, since the incidence rises as much as ten-fold as people age from 30 to 65.

Common Knee Surgery Doesn't Work

A type of knee surgery performed on more than 300,000 Americans each year to ease arthritis pain is worthless and perhaps even harmful, government researchers say.

HHS Issues Report On Medical Innovation And Seniors

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson yesterday released a new report highlighting the importance of medical innovation and new technology, especially new drugs, in helping seniors live longer and healthier lives. The report highlights advances in disease treatment and prevention as key factors improving health for older Americans.

Staph-Link Protein May Help Arthritis

A protein that makes staph infections more dangerous by blocking the body's immune defenses may help point the way to better treatments for arthritis and other diseases.

Labeling Changes For Arthritis Drug Celebrex

The FDA has approved labeling changes for Celebrex (celecoxib) based on the results of the Celecoxib Long-term Arthritis Safety Study (CLASS).

Arthritis Drug Can't Be Labeled As Safer

The Food and Drug Administration ruled that the popular arthritis drug Celebrex can't be labeled as safer for the stomach than cheaper anti-inflammation drugs.

Was Celebrex's Safety Overstated? (5/30/02)

Celebrex boomed in popularity largely because it's been believed to be a safer option than traditional anti-inflammatory drugs. But it may not be as safe as you think. Get the full story.

Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis at Home Sweet Home

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you know that the condition requires you to make some changes in your lifestyle. Learn what you can do at home to ease your symptoms and possibly slow down the disease.

Research Shows Promise For New Class Of Anti-Inflammatory Drug

A new type of anti-inflammatory painkiller is showing promise in experiments on people with arthritis in their knees.

Report Links Vioxx To Meningitis

The popular painkiller Vioxx has been linked to five cases of a nonbacterial type of meningitis, a possible side effect that, although rare, is serious, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports.

Arthritis Drug May Cause Liver Damage

A prescription drug for rheumatoid arthritis has been linked to dozens of serious liver injuries and 12 deaths and should be banned, a consumer advocacy group told the government.

Limited Mobility Bra

Trying to secure tiny hooks on a bra can be particularly frustrating if your fingers are not very nimble. The Limited Mobility Bra was designed with the help of focus groups consisting of women with various dexterity limitations.
Editor's Note: No mention of how this might add to an arthritic couple's flirtation and sex life if HE, once again, can undo her bra. On SALE now! To purchase, go to:

Medical Uncertainty

Your doctor's notion of certainty and complete understanding of illness are probably overestimated. In particular, certain fields of medicine, such as arthritis, have more uncertainty than others, such as cancer.

Geriatrics Society Guidelines Give Hints To Older People On How To Live Without Pain

Getting old doesn't mean having to live with pain, the American Geriatrics Society says in new guidelines with easy-to-read pamphlets to help older Americans explain their pain to doctors and know if dementia-stricken loved ones are suffering.

New Studies Add To Vioxx Debate

Three new studies are adding to a raging debate over whether the popular arthritis pain reliever Vioxx increases the risk of heart attack. Source:

Winter Fitness

It's tempting to just hibernate indoors during the cold-weather months with your feet up by a warm fire. Tempting, but not healthful. For even though bears hibernate, there are good reasons for humans to leave their dens.

Rheumatoid Drug May Prolong Life

Methotrexate, a key drug for rheumatoid arthritis, could help people with the crippling disease live longer, new research suggests.

Widely Used Arthritis Pills May Be New Treatment For Cancer

Scientists are hard at work recycling Celebrex and Vioxx, the red-hot inflammation pills taken by tens of millions for arthritis. They have an unlikely new use in mind, one maybe even more important than soothing throbbing joints.

Supermarket Chain Pulls Oxycontin

The Stop & Shop supermarket chain will no longer stock the painkiller Oxycontin because of an increasing number of robberies involving the drug.

Clinical Trial Protections Sought

Senators are promising legislation to better protect patients who volunteer for clinical trials amid growing concerns about the way many of the experimental tests are being administered.

Risks Of Arthritis Drugs Studied

There's growing suspicion that switching from aspirin to a more stomach-friendly arthritis drug could increase some people's risk of heart attacks and a study suggests the reason is a drug-caused chemical imbalance that spurs blood clots.

Cartilage Attracts Immune Attack

Innocent proteins sucked up by cartilage may target arthritis to joints, researchers say. The tissues attacked during autoimmune disease may partly determine their own demise.

Boomers Search For Relief From Aging

The 76 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 are expected to have less tolerance for pain than previous generations, making them willing to try and to spend more on different treatments for their aches and pains.

New Weapons to Assault an Epidemic

Fred Crawford, 60, chose injections of a viscous liquid over hip-replacement surgery. As a New York Knick, Fred Crawford suited up with Bill Bradley and Willis Reed. Later he was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers when Elgin Baylor and Jerry West were the stars of that team. He ended his career with the Milwaukee Bucks, whose center was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. That was three decades ago.

Late last month, as he entered a medical office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Mr. Crawford moved in what must have seemed like slow motion to him. Decades of constant pounding had taken their toll on his left hip. Pain and weakness prevented him from walking more than three blocks at a time. "Basketball is a tough business, but you're not thinking about that at the time," Mr. Crawford said. His diagnosis: moderately severe osteoarthritis.

Mr. Crawford is not alone. About 21 million Americans are afflicted with osteoarthritis. (According to a federal study, the figure will soar to more than 30 million by 2020, as the baby boomers grow older.) Women stand a greater chance than men of developing the disease, especially women over 65. But some arthritis experts are noticing a change in their patients: more men developing severe cases, and earlier, in their 50's rather than in their 60's and 70's, which may be attributed to more participation in strenuous sports.

At the same time, however, a variety of promising treatments and technological advances, from new drugs to viscous injections to high- tech prostheses, are keeping pace with the epidemic, offering relief to those who suffer from the nation's leading cause of disability.

Lube Job for Joints

While osteoarthritis affects the entire joint — be it knee, hip, wrist or fingers — its primary target is cartilage, the tough, slippery coating at the ends of bones that lets them glide over each other when you bend your knees or throw a baseball. With osteoarthritis, the protective cartilage wears away (which is why it is sometimes referred to as "degenerative" arthritis). As the cushioning cartilage erodes, bone eventually rubs against bone, causing the pain and stiffness that Fred Crawford knows all too well.

The 60-year-old Mr. Crawford had been scheduled for hip-replacement surgery in April. But he canceled after hearing about a less drastic but more controversial alternative known as visco-supplementation — a lube job for arthritic joints.

In visco-supplementation, a clear, thick liquid is injected into the joint in three weekly injections costing about $1,000 for the series. (Some health insurance plans cover the cost.) The relatively painless injections are intended to provide temporary relief for arthritic pain and stiffness. The key ingredient is hyaluronic acid, a chemical found naturally in the fluid of the knee and other joints that aids in lubrication.

The Food and Drug Administration approved two visco-supplementation products, Synvisc and Hyalgan, in 1997 and a third, Supartz, earlier this year. They are currently approved for treating symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee that have not responded to drugs or other treatments. (None has yet been approved for osteoarthritis of the hip, so Mr. Crawford's injections, using Synvisc, are an "off-label" but permissible treatment.)

Visco-supplementation has drawn attention, not all favorable, partly from how it has been promoted. Full- page ads in magazines and newspapers contend that Synvisc offers "drug-free relief for osteoarthritis knee pain," which is technically true, as the products are classified as medical devices rather than drugs. But experts are also split over visco- supplementation's effectiveness.

"I think it doesn't work, and there's actually pretty strong evidence from clinical trials that it doesn't work," said Dr. David Felson, the director of the Arthritis Center at the Boston University School of Medicine. He said that the three large-scale clinical trials of visco- supplementation for knee osteoarthritis "show no effect compared with placebo injections of saline."

But visco-supplementation has its proponents, too. One is Mr. Crawford's doctor, Vijay Vad, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Dr. Vad has "visco-supplemented" nearly 600 knees and 70 hips — the first 25 as part of a recently completed clinical trial. For best results, he emphasizes, "careful selection of patients is essential."

According to Dr. Vad, the prime candidates for visco-supplementation are men in their 40's or 50's with moderately severe osteoarthritis of the hip or knee who have failed to improve with oral medications, physical therapy or cortisone injections. Following the injections, Dr. Vad insists that patients engage in a rehabilitation program that includes exercise and aquatherapy.

Mr. Crawford, for one, is a believer. "I have less pain and have already noticed improvement in my range of motion," he reported shortly after the last of his three Synvisc injections. He said he was looking forward to playing doubles tennis and taking his bicycle out of storage. But as for basketball, "I'm going to leave that to Kobe and Shaq."

The Surgical Solution

Dr. Richard Laskin, an orthopedic surgeon and co-chief of the knee service at the Hospital for Special Surgery, recently reviewed his hospital's database for the last 20 years, tallying up the numbers of men who had been candidates for hip or knee replacement surgery and noting their ages. One finding stood out: between 1980 to 1990 and 1990 to 2000, male patients in their 50's had tripled.

"Why am I seeing so many more men in their 50's when I used to see them much later?" Dr. Raskin asked. "It's because when they were in their 20's, they skied or played rugby or soccer or whatever and damaged their knees — tore their anterior cruciate ligament or their medial meniscus, for example, and more men tended to do that than women." (Ligaments are bands of tissue that help stabilize a joint by binding together the bones within it; meniscuses are pads of tissue that help to cushion the knee joint.)

Even without directly damaging cartilage, traumatic injury to a joint greatly increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis years later. Tearing a ligament or meniscus makes the joint unstable, creating abnormal stresses on cartilage during movement. Athletes who suffer a major injury to the knee or hip, for example, are up to seven times more likely to develop osteoarthritis in that joint than the average person. More

Arthritis Drug May Cause Liver Damage

A prescription drug for rheumatoid arthritis has been linked to dozens of serious liver injuries and 12 deaths and should be banned, a consumer advocacy group told the government.

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