Study: Knee Surgery No Better Than Placebo

Surgery probably won’t help you with chronic knee pain.  But here are 10 proven ways to get you safely back in the swing of things.

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee affects over 12 percent of people over 60 years old.[i]  It’s a degenerative disease that causes pain, Continue reading

The Science of Acupuncture

Story at-a-glance 

Acupuncture is an ancient holistic health care system still widely practiced in China Continue reading

Herbal Extract Combination Reduces Osteoarthritis Pain

French hospital researchers have confirmed that a combination of herbs together with bromelain from pineapples can significantly reduce joint pain from osteoarthritis. Continue reading

Household Chemical Could Ruin your Joints

I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who enjoys housework — and I’m guessing I never will. From scrubbing dishes to mopping floors, it’s just about as much fun as getting a root canal while doing your taxes.

And if you’ve ever wondered whether all that housework was shaving years off your life, Continue reading

Ideal Exercise Details Finally Revealed

 exercise

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans detail the types and amounts of physical activity needed for maintenance of good health. A new paper has broken them down into what we all need to know about exercise:

— Adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate- intensity exercise, 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, or a combination of both. For greater health benefits, increase levels to Continue reading

Want to Treat That Disease? Take a Bath!

Treatments don’t come any wetter than “balneotherapy,” which is the use of therapeutic baths to treat disease. It is one of the world’s oldest medical procedures, going back to the very earliest humans. Could it work for you? And for what?

Balneotherapy Continue reading

Consider This Therapy before Knee Surgery

Mark down a new health breakthrough for the ancient therapy known as acupuncture. Osteoarthritis of the knee is the most common form of joint pain in the world. The answer, for many, is knee replacement surgery. But what if acupuncture could be used instead?

When acupuncture burst onto the scene in the U.S., Continue reading

Try This Ancient Technique for Pain Relief

Pain is a symptom associated with just about every disease you can think of. There are different types of pain and different intensities of pain. Although it’s a symptom universally disliked by everyone, pain is often a just a warning that something is wrong. If you have stomach pain, maybe you’re eating a food you’re allergic to. If you have back pain, maybe you’re wearing the wrong shoes Continue reading

New Benefits of Chondroitin Discovered

Over the past decade, the natural supplement chondroitin has risen into discussion about treating joint pain. It is often teamed with glucosamine for this effect. A great piece of health news has just come out, suggesting that chondroitin sulfate improves hand function and relieves morning stiffness caused by osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the world’s leading cause of joint pain. It is caused by the gradual deterioration of cartilage in a joint. The disease affects more than 27 million adults in the U.S., causing pain and stiffness. Approximately 10% of the world population, 60 years and older, have symptomatic osteoarthritis. And prior studies have found that 20% to 30% of adults have osteoarthritis of the hand, with the prevalence rising to more than 50% after 60 years of age. Continue reading

Prevent and Treat Osteoarthritis

Painful osteoarthritis is a major health threat for millions of Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 46 million American adults have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia. In fact, 50 percent of adults aged 65 and older report they’ve been given a diagnosis of arthritis by a doctor.

Repeated trauma and joint stress, both of which can trigger joint inflammation, are the leading causes. Those people who have widespread joint involvement probably have a strong predetermination to develop the disease which may be triggered by a bad diet, environmental toxins, or infections.

Here are eight tips to both prevent and treat osteoarthritis:

Avoid obesity According to a Centers for Disease Control report on arthritis, 66 percent of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis are overweight or obese. The more weight you have on a joint,  Continue reading

Painful Legacy of Teen Sports

New study links high rates of osteoarthritis in athletes to femur damage during adolescence, as a result of participation in high-intensity sports

Vigorous sports activities, like basketball, during childhood and adolescence can cause abnormal development of the femur in young athletes, resulting in a deformed hip with reduced rotation and pain during movement. This may explain why athletes are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than more sedentary individuals, according to Dr. Klaus Siebenrock, from the University of Bern in Switzerland, and colleagues, whose work is published online in Springer’s journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research.

Siebenrock and colleagues found that, in those studied, osteoarthritis of the hip was more prevalent in high-level athletes than in those who do not take part in regular sports. It is also linked to higher intensity activities and greater physical loading of the hip. He noted other investigations have found that male athletes, particularly those who play soccer and handball, and take part in competitive track and field activities involving running and jumping, are at greater risk of early osteoarthritis of the hip.

Siebenrock and colleagues compared  Continue reading

Biotech Treatments for “Non-Curable” Diseases

Going beyond remedies that reduce the symptoms of common cold or heal common ailments, there are now treatments that target those diseases that still haven’t found a medical solution. It is here that biotechnology offers little known but no less effective alternative.

These are drugs that have as their primary mission support to attack serious symptoms and complications of these diseases and improve the quality of life of the patients. Synvisc One, for example, is a medical treatment to treat osteoarthritis or the wear of the knee cartilage, which most commonly occurs in older adults and young athletes or patients with significant degrees of obesity.

It was recently launched in Chile at a seminar  Continue reading

Osteoarthritis Knee Pain Relieved with Tai Chi

BOSTON – A traditional Chinese martial art can help reduce pain and improve knee function among seniors with osteoarthritis, American researchers have found.

“Tai chi is a mind-body approach that appears to be an applicable treatment for older adults with knee osteoarthritis,” Dr. Chenchen Wang, co-author of a study published in The November issue of Arthritis Care & Research, said in a release.

Tai chi features slow, rhythmic movements designed to relax people and enhance balance, strength and flexibility.

In the study, researchers looked at 40 people with confirmed knee osteoarthritis from Boston who were in otherwise good health. They had an average age of 65.

Half the study participants took Yang-style tai chi sessions for one hour, twice a week for three months. The sessions included 10 minutes each of self-massage and review of principles, breathing techniques and relaxation, and 30 minutes of tai chi movements.

The rest took two 60-minute classes per week for three months to learn about diet and nutrition, and treatments for osteoarthritis. These participants also stretched for 20 minutes.

At the end of the 12-week period, people practising tai chi showed a significant decrease in knee pain on a standard pain scale compared with those in the control group.

The findings show the need to further evaluate the biological mechanisms of tai chi to extend its benefits to a wider population, Wang said.

No severe adverse events were reported.

Osteoarthritis affects an estimated 3,000,000 or one in 10 Canadians, according to the Arthritis Society

Introducing – Glucosamine

Other names: glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine sulphate, glucosamine hydrochloride, N-acetyl glucosamine, chitosamine

Glucosamine is a compound found naturally in the body, made from glucose and the amino acid glutamine. Glucosamine is needed to produce glycosaminoglycan, a molecule used in the formation and repair of cartilage and other body tissues. Production of glucosamine slows with age.

Glucosamine is available as a nutritional supplement in health food stores and many drug stores. Glucosamine supplements are manufactured in a laboratory from chitin, a substance found in the shells of shrimp, crab, lobster, and other sea creatures. In additional to nutritional supplements, glucosamine is also used in sports drinks and in cosmetics.

Glucosamine is often combined with chondroitin sulfate, a molecule naturally present in cartilage. Chondroitin gives cartilage elasticity and is believed to prevent the destruction of cartilage by enzymes. Glucosamine is sometimes combined with methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, in nutritional supplements.

Why Do People Use Glucosamine?

Osteoarthritis

Glucosamine supplements are widely used for osteoarthritis, particularly knee osteoarthritis. In osteoarthritis, cartilage — the rubbery material that cushions joints — becomes stiff and loses its elasticity. This makes the joint prone to damage and may lead to pain, swelling, loss of movement, and further deterioration.

Since the body’s natural glucosamine is used to make and repair joint cartilage, taking glucosamine as a nutritional supplement is thought to help repair damaged cartilage by augmenting the body’s supply of glucosamine.

There is promising evidence that glucosamine may reduce pain symptoms of knee osteoarthritis and possibly slow the progression of osteoarthritis. For example, a study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine examined people with osteoarthritis over three years. Researchers assessed pain and structural improvements seen on x-ray. They gave 202 people with mild to moderate osteoarthritis 1,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate a day or a placebo.

At the end of the study, researchers found that glucosamine slowed the progression of knee osteoarthritis compared to the placebo. People in the glucosamine group had a significant reduction in pain and stiffness. On x-ray, there was no average change or narrowing of joint spaces in the knees (a sign of deterioration) of the glucosamine group. In contrast, joint spaces of participants taking the placebo narrowed over the three years.

One of the largest studies on glucosamine for osteoarthritis was a 6-month study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Called GAIT, the study compared the effectiveness of glucosamine hydrochloride (HCL), chondroitin sulfate, a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, the drug celecoxib (Celebrex), or a placebo in people with knee osteoarthritis.

Glucosamine or chondroitin alone or in combination didn’t reduce pain in the overall group, although people in the study with moderate-to-severe knee pain were more likely to respond to glucosamine.

One major drawback of the GAIT Trial was that glucosamine hydrochloride was used rather than the more widely used and researched glucosamine sulfate. A recent analysis of previous studies, including the GAIT Trial, concluded that glucosamine hydrochloride was not effective. The analysis also found that studies on glucosamine sulfate were too different from one another and were not as well-designed as they should be, so they could not properly draw a conclusion. More research is needed.

Still, health care providers often suggest a three month trial of glucosamine and discontinuing it if there is no improvement after three months. A typical dose for osteoarthritis is 1,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate each day.

Other Conditions

Other conditions for which glucosamine is used include rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), chronic venous insufficiency, and skin conditions, although further evidence is needed.

Side Effects and Safety of Glucosamine

Most studies involving humans have found that short-term use of glucosamine is well-tolerated. Side effects may include drowsiness, headache, insomnia, and mild and temporary digestive complaints such as abdominal pain, poor appetite, nausea, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting. In rare human cases, the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin has been linked with temporarily elevated blood pressure and heart rate and palpitations.

Since glucosamine supplements may be made from shellfish, people with allergies to shellfish should avoid glucosamine unless it has been confirmed that it is from a non-shellfish source. The source of glucosamine is not required to be printed on the label, so it may require a phone call to the manufacturer.

There is some evidence suggesting that glucosamine, in doses used to treat osteoarthritis, may worsen blood sugar, insulin, and/or hemoglobin A1c (a test that measures how well blood sugar has been controlled during the previous three months) levels in people with diabetes or insulin resistance.

Theoretically, glucosamine may increase the risk of bleeding. People with bleeding disorders, those taking anti-clotting or anti-platelet medication, such as warfarin, clopidogrel, and Ticlid, or people taking supplements that may increase the risk of bleeding, such as garlic, ginkgo, vitamin E, or red clover, should not take glucosamine unless under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

The safety of glucosamine in pregnant or nursing women isn’t known.

Introducing – White Willow Bark

White willow bark is a tree native to Europe and Asia. The name “white willow” comes from the color of the leaves, which are covered with fine white hairs.

The use of white willow bark medicinally goes far back. Ancient Egyptians used white willow for inflammation. The Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about white willow’s medicinal uses in 5th century B.C.

In 1829, scientists in Europe identified what was believed to be the active ingredient in white willow bark—a compound called salicin. Public demand grew rapidly.

Extracting salicin from herbs was considered to be expensive and time-consuming, so a synthetic salicylic acid version was developed in Germany in 1852 and quickly became the treatment of choice (salicin is converted in the body to salicylic acid).

The problem was that it was harder on the stomach. At therapeutic doses, people using the synthetic salicyclic acid developed stomach ulcers and bleeding.

The German company Bayer eventually created a synthetic, less harsh derivative of salicylic acid, called acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), and mass-produced it under the name aspirin. Despite this, aspirin is still known for irritating the stomach lining.

Why do people use white willow bark?

White willow bark is used for conditions that cause pain, inflammation, or fever, such as:

    * Acute back pain

    * Fever

    * Flu

    * Joint pain

    * Osteoarthritis

    * Pain

People take white willow bark instead of aspirin because it does not appear to be as irritating to the stomach lining. It may be because the salicin found naturally in white willow bark is only converted to the acid form after it is absorbed by the stomach.

Researchers have also suggested that white willow bark is more effective than aspirin because of other active compounds that are found in the bark but not the drug. Animal research at Cairo University compared a willow bark extract to ASA and found that a willow bark extract was as effective as aspirin in reducing inflammation, even though the salicin content was lower than an equivalent dose of ASA.

What research has been done on white willow bark?

    * In a German study, the effectiveness of a willow bark extract providing 240 mg of salicin a day was compared to placebo in a 2-week randomized controlled trial in 78 people with osteoarthritis. After two weeks, the willow bark patients’ pain scores were reduced by 14% compared to the placebo group, which had a 2% increase in pain scores.

    * A randomized controlled trial published in the American Journal of Medicine examined the use of 120 mg or 240 mg salicin or placebo in 210 patients with an low back pain. In the fourth and final week of the study, 39% of the group taking 240 mg salicin were pain-free for at least 5 days, compared to 21% in the 120 mg group and only 6% in the placebo group.

    * Two randomized controlled 6-week trials investigated the effectiveness and safety of willow bark in 127 patients with hip and/or knee osteoarthritis and 26 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In the osteoarthritis trial, patients received either willow bark providing 240 mg of salicin a day, 100 mg a day of the drug diclofenac, or a placebo. Patients in the rheumatoid arthritis trial received either willow bark or a placebo. The results found that the drug diclofenac was more effective than placebo in osteoarthritis patients but white willow bark was not. In rheumatoid arthritis patients, willow bark wasn’t found to be more effective than placebo.

Common Doses

Studies have used white willow bark extracts that provide 120 mg to 240 mg of salicin per day.

Safety

Because white willow bark contains salicylates, the same precautions as aspirin should be taken until research has shown otherwise. The following people should not take white willow bark:

    * People with an aspirin allergy or sensitivity. There has been a published report of a 25 year old woman who was admitted to emergency with anaphylaxis after taking 2 capsules of a weight loss supplement that contained willow bark. The patient had a history of allergy to acetylsalicylic acid. No other possible causes for anaphylaxis were identified in that patient.

    * People with peptic ulcer disease or kidney disease.

    * The herbs ginkgo, vitamin E, and garlic may increase the risk of bleeding if combined with white willow.

    * People with hyperuricemia, gout, and asthma.

    * Children and teenagers, especially with flu-like symptoms, chicken pox, or Reye’s syndrome.

    * Pregnant or nursing women.

White willow bark should be avoided two weeks before or after surgery.

Side effects

There have been few reported side effects. However, the same side effects as aspirin may theoretically occur, especially at higher doses: ringing in the ears, ulcers, stomach burning, pain, cramping, nausea, gastrointestinal bleeding and liver toxicity, rash, dizziness, and kidney impairment.