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Good Article on Arthritis

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Tennis Tom, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle


    Everyday arthritis treatments: what works?

    by Nicola Garrett

    Many of us struggle with the pain and disability of arthritis, and there's no shortage of treatments that claim to help. But what ones are likely to work?


    You probably give little thought to opening jars, pulling out weeds, hanging up washing or even just getting out of your chair. But for those with arthritis these sorts of everyday tasks can be difficult and painful, if not impossible.

    Almost a third of Australians have arthritis or another musculoskeletal condition. Figures from theAustralian Institute of Welfare show that around 8 per cent of Australians have osteoarthritis and 2 per cent have rheumatoid arthritis.

    But arthritis doesn't just cause discomfort, pain and disability, it's expensive. In terms of Australian health-care expenditure 2008-09 we spent $355 million on rheumatoid arthritis and a whopping $1,637 million on osteoarthritis, making arthritis the fourth most expensive disease.

    Yet despite all these dollars, there's no known cure, and for those with arthritis, the focus is on pain relief and how to improve movement and quality of life. There's no shortage of popular, if unproven, treatments and strategies promising to improve symptoms and even slow the progression of the condition.

    "The problem with treating chronic musculoskeletal conditions is there's so much anecdotal evidence around that it creates a lot of confusion for patients. By the time they've seen their GP, spoken to their neighbour and their grandmother and everyone else that has a well meaning opinion, it's completely confusing for them," says Dr Sam Whittle a rheumatologist from Adelaide.

    "When they come to see me they've tried a lot of things that don't work."

    So what can help if you have arthritis?

    Weight loss
    About 98 per cent of people with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip are overweight or obese, says Professor David Hunter a rheumatologist and Florance and Cope Chair at the University of Sydney. The average BMI seen in his arthritis clinic is around 32 – the middle of the obesity category.

    "It's probably the most important risk factor, particularly for knee OA, and accounts for about 50 per cent of the reason why people develop OA in the first place," he says.

    "Once they get OA it further compounds the problem by making the pain more severe and accelerates the likelihood of requiring more intervention."

    Evidence shows losing weight can be hugely beneficial for people with OA. A recent study found patients who shed pounds had less inflammation and pain, better function, faster walking speed, and a better quality of life.

    People with OA who are overweight or obese are usually encouraged to lose 10 per cent of their body weight. Hunter says this can significantly reduce people's pain.

    "The effects of losing weight will be close to double what you would get from taking an anti-inflammatory medication, which typically improves symptoms by about 20 to 30 per cent," he says.

    "Losing weight also has the additional benefits of reducing the overall risk of death, the need for joint replacement surgery as well as improving function in the long-term," he adds.

    Along with weight loss, regular exercise can bring enormous benefits if you have arthritis. But choosing the right type of exercise is important.

    Hunter encourages his patients to do 30 to 40 minutes of aerobic exercise each day, to help increase metabolism and encourage weight loss.

    Some people may need to avoid high impact sports, such as running or tennis, and opt for low impact activities like walking or swimming.

    Strengthening exercises are also important, particularly for muscles around the affected joints as the more strength a person gains the more their function is likely to improve, says Hunter.

    Before anything else
    The evidence of the benefits of weight loss and exercise are so compelling that most guidelines, including those from the Osteoarthritis Research Society Internationaladvocate that everybody who has OA should focus on exercise and, if appropriate, weight reduction before they do anything else.

    "Unfortunately most people don't do that so they miss out on a huge opportunity to modify their symptoms and modify the course of their disease," says Hunter.

    "About 80 per cent of the people who present to us who are on the orthopedic waiting list for a hip or knee replacement have never tried any conservative treatment," he says.

    Complementary and alternative medicine
    Many people prefer to use complementary and alternative treatments to manage their arthritis, but the evidence for these is conflicting.

    Glucosamine is commonly said to help relieve pain and limit cartilage breakdown, but for every study that finds benefit there's another study to contradict it.

    "The glucosamine story used to be so straightforward and now it is so confusing. It's reached the point where there's so much evidence around that you can almost suit any argument you like. It's almost reverted back to opinion," says Whittle.

    An analysis of all of the evidence found that taking glucosamine in combination with chondroitin did not reduce joint pain or have an impact on narrowing of joint space.

    However an Australian study published this year found that taking the combination did reduce joint space narrowing, although it did not have any effect on symptoms.

    "When the original studies came out almost 15 years ago they were very exciting because it looked like not only was glucosamine of symptomatic benefit in OA but it possibly also had structural benefit. And there's never been a disease modifying drug in OA so that's the Holy Grail," says Whittle.

    "But subsequent studies kept on showing disappointing benefit and if you look across the breadth of all the glucosamine studies, my view is that it's probably not effective," he says.

    It's been years since Whittle has advised patients to start taking glucosamine if they haven't already tried it. For patients who are already taking it, he recommends a three-month trial at an adequate dose.

    "If they get to three months and they are not better off then they ought to stop, as it is a large financial outlay for no benefit."

    According to Hunter complementary and alternative medicines are an important part of treatment, particularly as around half of all patients are taking them.

    "The challenge is that a lot of people who have OA feel a great benefit from taking these treatments and if they are tolerating them well and they are relatively inexpensive I don't actively discourage them from doing it," he says.

    "From the viewpoint of those that are beneficial, I think there is reasonably good evidence to suggest thatomega-3 fatty acids like fish and krill oil are helpful in reducing inflammation and pain related to arthritis."

    "Outside of that there are good trials suggesting glucosamine, ginger, green lipped mussel, acupuncture, are not any better than a placebo or sham treatment," he says.

    "The most important thing is for patients to tell their health professional if they are taking a complementary medicine because some of them do have interactions with other products," he advises.

    Pain relievers
    Many people with arthritis use painkillers, or analgesics, to manage their pain.

    There's pretty good evidence that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – including dicofenac, naproxen, ibuprofen – are effective for a large proportion of people, says Whittle, who has been involved in developing international guidelines for managing pain in arthritis.

    But long-term use of these painkillers has been shown to increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attack or stroke. The big challenge, according to Whittle, is to balance the risks and benefits in the individual.

    "I'm pretty liberal with my use of NSAIDs in young people in the short term because the absolute risks are incredibly low and the benefits are quite high."

    "But in older people who have any cardiovascular, gastrointestinal or renal risk who need long term treatment it's very hard to make a decision."

    "I'm often advising people against long-term use but I suspect there's probably a fair proportion of people who use them anyway despite my advice."

    "They [NSAIDs] can be very effective and when people come off them, they really notice the difference."

    Hunter agrees people need to know the risks of long-term NSAID use.

    "If patients have had a peptic ulcer, or are a smoker or on steroids or anticoagulants then they need to make sure that they get advice from their doctor or GP".

    Even paracetamol, which has long been considered a safe way to manage pain, has recently come under scrutiny because of concerns over how well it actually works and liver and gastrointestinal toxicity.

    "Paracetamol is no longer first line for treating OA pain and I don't think that is common knowledge for many people… It's not a completely benign medication," Hunter says.

    Published 21/10/2014
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks for posting this, but it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know.
    My bookpublisher boss says arthritis in his hands is very painful, but he has to be on
    the computer a lot. He takes some medication (don't know what), but in my reading of
    Dr. Sarno he days arthritis is from TMS, and my boss has that in spades. I tell him that
    but he denies the whole concept of TMS. His is probably from being a perfectionist's perfectionist
    and a compulsive obsessive workaholic.

    I wish the author of that Australian arthritis article had written about TMS as not only a cure
    but the best cure.
    Tennis Tom likes this.
  3. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    He's likely never heard of it, maybe someone from the TMS community could send him some info or place a "comment" to the article.
  4. blake

    blake Well known member

    My official diagnosis is osteoarthritis. I have tried all the treatments in this article and nothing worked until I discovered tms. Now, whenever I read information about arthritis, I'm saddened for all the people who don't yet have access to tms information. I discovered tms in a women's magazine called Canadian Living. It was only a few short paragraphs about one woman's success story, but I was hooked the minute I read it.
    newarrior likes this.
  5. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    I went to a doctor, long ago, about backache and he said, loftily, "Oh you've got arthritis in your spine and it's only going to get worse." This is what's called a nocebo. For some reason this "diagnosis" didn't bother me. I checked it out and learned that osteoarthritis is normal as the body ages. It doesn't necessarily hurt. So you're saying tms is a factor in your perception of osteoarthritis pain? That's great information!

    Seems to me that any pain or sensation can seized on and used by the brain. Even if there's an underlying physical problem doesn't mean the pain is physical. Not many people make that connection.
    Akela and blake like this.
  6. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    My lower back pain just keeps going down and my mobility increasing whether I use NSAIDs or not; that is, as long as I keep meditating and doing breathing exercises. Ibuprofen may offer short-term pain relief, but the big solution (gross losung) seems to involve TMS knowledge and depth therapy in whatever form suits you.

    Maybe the best thing about using pain relievers is that they take your obsessing mind off of the pain long enough to break the self-reinforcing process that perpetuates TMS? Just sayin'.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2014
  7. blake

    blake Well known member

    For me, getting in touch with my repressed emotions on a day-by-day basis is the only thing that has worked. Before TMS, I used to rack my brain trying to identify my pain pattern (was it this position, this exercise, blah, blah, blah). Now that I know it's TMS it's so obvious that the pain is related to my various inner conflicts (and there are many). It almost seems funny now, except for the fact that I lived with so much pain for so many years...which, as we all know, is anything but funny.
  8. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm glad that doctor's diagnosis didn't both you, Njoy (but you're a tough-ee that's for sure!) I can still remember the smug look on the doctor's face at Kaiser in 2005 when he implied that my back pain was due to age and "spinal degeneration" and that it just was going to get worse and worse. Then, why did it begin a short while after my mother's death in 2001 and disappear completely when I got a big insurance check in 2004?

    Some of those doctors are so indoctrinated with that spinal degeneration/osteoarthritis structural diagnosis that no amount of information about body-mind interactions will ever make them budge an inch. Of course, they know it all and driving home to their ranch house in the suburbs in a new Porsche is all the proof they need of their special knowledge.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
    Tennis Tom likes this.
  9. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm laughing at your reply, Bruce, because I think it is so true.
    I knew a doctor, head of cancer surgery at a major hospital, who said he gave a medical treatment to patients
    that cost them or their health care provider $500, and knew it was useless. He had a beautiful home a few steps
    from a beautiful lake. But he died a few years, later, of cancer.
    BruceMC likes this.
  10. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    The irony of ironies!
  11. chickenbone

    chickenbone Well known member

    Bruce, you are so right about taking pain relievers very short term to get our TMS minds OFF the pain. It very often works for me, although I hate to take any medicine. It seems like heresy.
  12. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I see where Dr Sarno himself advocates using pain killers on a very limited, short-term basis. I can see where breaking the cycle of symptom obsession has a lot to recommend it.
  13. newarrior

    newarrior Peer Supporter

    I'm only 57 but I got arthritis in the hands and my feet and it's extremely discouraging and depressing it feels like I'm losing all kinds of activities and my freedom plus I'm alone and single plus the chronic pain is brutal
  14. newarrior

    newarrior Peer Supporter

    Correct as does tranquilizers very big great you're doing meditation and TMS I'm looking into both those things as well they're already doing meditation I've use TMs in the past
    BruceMC likes this.

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