ARTHRITIS WATCH

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

NFL Greats Team Up to Tackle OA

The Arthritis Foundation has enlisted the help of Hall of Famequarterback John Elway and other retired National FootballLeague (NFL) players to launch their "Game Plan for OA" (osteoarthritis), an education and awareness campaign designedto encourage patients with OA to develop a better working relationshipwith their doctors regarding their ailment. The programalso seeks to promote proper exercise, with the goal of reducingthe pain, stiffness, and limitations that OA can inflict on patients.

The program was created by the Arthritis Foundation and isbeing supported with radio and TV interviews with the retiredNFL players, many of whom are currently dealing with OA themselves.The foundation encourages patients to stay active to alleviatepainful symptoms and to work with their doctors to set personalgoals to help control OA. For more information, patientscan visit the Arthritis Foundation Web site, www.arthritis.org, orcall 800-568-4045.

Vitamin D Levels Drop in Winter

As the days get shorter and colder, people aremore likely to spend less time outdoors than inwarmer seasons. When they do go out, they areusually covered from head to toe, limiting thesun's access to their skin. Unfortunately, thehuman body's main source of vitamin D—essentialfor the formation of healthy bones—is exposureto the ultraviolet radiation found in sunlight.Researchers at the University of Ulster in Irelandare launching a 3-year project to study what levelsof dietary vitamin D are necessary to maintainhealthy levels in the body during the wintertime.

According to Julie Wallace, BSc, PhD, a seniorresearch fellow at the university, "For 6 monthsof the year,?we cannot make vitamin D throughexposure to sunlight?because the sun is toolow in the sky. Our summertime levels will lastfor part of the year, but by the end ofwinter?those stores are low." Although thestudy will focus mainly on adults 20 to 40 yearsof age in the first year, and adults over age 65 inthe second, Dr.Wallace acknowledges that otherpopulations at risk of low vitamin D status alsoneed to be studied.

Exercise Prior to Surgery Cuts Rehab Time

A study published in the October 2006issue of Arthritis Care & Research showedthat patients with end-stage osteoarthritiswho engage in regular exercise prior tohip or knee replacements improve overallmuscle strength and can shorten or eliminatetime in postoperative rehabilitation.Researchers at New England BaptistHospital, Boston, Mass, studied 108 patientswho were to undergo hip or kneereplacement surgery between November2001 and November 2003. The patientswere placed into one of 2 groups—half ofthe patients took part in both water andland-based exercise programs 3 times aweek for 6 weeks prior to their surgeries,and the other half received educationalmaterials only. Those who exercised wereshown to reduce their odds of being dischargedto an inpatient rehabilitation facilityby 73%. They were also more likely tobe able to walk more than 50 feet.

It was noted that those who exercisedresponded differently before and aftersurgery depending on which joint wasreplaced—those requiring hip replacementshowed improved function beforesurgery as well.

Researchers noted that knee-replacementcandidates might need to participatein strength training for longer periodsof time prior to surgery to see similarresults.

Spice Up Your Life and Treat Your Arthritis

Researchers at the University ofArizona College of Medicine in Tucsonhave found that the spice turmeric canprevent joint inflammation and areexamining the mechanism by whichturmeric protects joints in arthritis. Thespice is used commonly in curries andother South Asian cuisine. The studyshowed that turmeric significantlyinhibited joint destruction due toarthritis and inhibited nuclear factor-B,a protein that controls the geneexpression of substances that producean inflammatory response. The spicealso altered the expression of hundredsof genes involved in jointswelling and destruction and preventedan increase in osteoclasts in joints.

The researchers prepared theirown extracts from the rhizome(turmeric root) in order to test andcompare 3 natural extracts with commerciallyavailable products. Theytested a whole extract of turmericroot, only the essential oils, and an oildepletedextract containing the 3major curcuminoids found in the rhizome.Of the 3 extracts, the one containingthe major curcuminoids wasmost similar in chemical compositionto commercially available turmericdietary supplements. It also was themost effective, completely inhibitingthe onset of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

The study authors agree that "clinicaltrials are?needed to verify?whether treatment with adequatedoses of?turmeric extracts canindeed prevent/suppress diseaseflares in RA patients, as well as toexplore any potential benefits ofturmeric?in the prevention or treatmentof more common forms ofarthritis?." The findings were publishedin the November 2006 issue ofArthritis & Rheumatism.