Arthritis Watch

Pharmacy TimesJanuary 2010 Aging Population
Volume 76
Issue 1

How to Avoid Knee OA? Lose Some Weight

Individuals who are overweight and lose just 5% of their weight are less likely to develop osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, compared with those who gain weight, according to data from a large, ongoing study by the Thurston Arthritis Research Center at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

“We hear a lot of messages about how obesity affects cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but arthritis is often overlooked,” noted Lauren Abbate, lead investigator and third-year medical student at UNC. She and her colleagues followed 1480 men and women aged 45 and older who were disease-free in at least 1 knee to see who developed radiographic knee OA. They found that those who lost even a modest amount of weight—5%—lowered their risk of knee OA. No significant benefit was found for those who maintained their weight, however. The study findings were reported at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in October.

Women: Strengthen Those Quads

Having strong thigh muscles may reduce the risk of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, especially in women, according to a study by researchers at the University of Iowa who looked at 30 months of data on >3000 men and women aged 50 to 79 participating in the Multicenter Knee Osteoarthritis Study.

The researchers used x-rays to look for OA, patient interviews on pain, and measurements of muscle strength. They found that in women more than in men, having stronger quadriceps protected against risk for symptomatic knee OA. The findings suggest that having strength in the thigh muscles may keep individuals more active and keep joints moving, providing bracing for the knee, according to lead researcher Neil Segal, MD. The study was published in the September issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

Take Care of Gums to Help Arthritis

A study involving 40 patients with both moderate-to-severe periodontal disease and a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) found that combining gum care and arthritis medicines helps to relieve both ailments. Gum disease is prevalent in individuals with RA—and vice versa.

For the study, reported in the Journal of Periodontology, patients were divided into 4 groups. Of the groups, 2 received anti—tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha arthritis drugs. One of these groups also received standard nonsurgical dental treatment to clean and remove the infection from the bones and tissues in the gum areas. The third group had only dental treatment, and the fourth group received no treatment.

The researchers found that those patients given the dental treatment experienced improvement in their arthritis symptoms. The biggest improvement, however, was observed in the group that had both dental treatment and anti—TNF-alpha drugs.

Patients Feel RA Controls Their Lives

A survey of >500 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) throughout Europe and Canada indicated that a majority of patients still experience pain (79%), fatigue (67%), and joint stiffness (57%) on a consistent basis despite current treatment, whereas >51% of patients with RA feel their disease controls their lives. The results are based on the Rheumatoid Arthritis: Insights, Strategies & Expectations (RAISE) survey.

In treating RA, about 25% of patients with the disease who are currently on a subcutaneous injectable medication rely on caregivers or health care providers to administer the medication, whereas 24% of patients who self-inject experience pain on injection, and 20% experience irritation at the injection site. Patients with RA also are willing to try a new biologic if the medication is developed with patient-friendly features, including working consistently (76%), once-monthly administration (75%), simple instructions (69%), easier auto-injector (66%), and fewer injection-site reactions (56%). â– 

FAST FACT: In the United States, nearly 27 million adults have osteoarthritis, and 16% of cases in individuals aged 45 and older affect the knee.

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