Prime Time Living - Page 24 - Arthritis from page 4

Prime Time Living
- Page 24
Arthritis from page 4
as you walk. And make sure you have good arch support. Weakened arches will cause fallen arches, and that is communicated up the leg to the knee and hip.

“Physical therapy is a primary treatment for OA,” says Orbai, “because you relearn how to use your muscles and improve your posture. When you strengthen your muscles, your joints are stabilized. PT also teaches you how to use groups of muscles in tandem.”

Depending on its intensity, you could eventually have chronic pain that prevents you from doing your daily activities or make it hard to walk or climb stairs. Usual symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and limited range of motion. For those who have severe OA, there is the added risk of depression and anxiety, which can lead to isolation.

Glucosamine, a supplement to decrease inflammation, is used for an FDA approved treatment with certain formulations. A patient receives three injections in a row. In a clinical trial, it was proven to be better than a placebo. It works because glucosamine has a composition similar to synovia, a viscous fluid found in joints that reduces the friction between the two cartilage surfaces that makes the joint work.

OA is also the reason many people have knee and hip replacements. It’s diagnosed with X-rays and, when necessary, the pain is controlled with medications. The biggest complaint is difficulty getting in and out of a car. “When your function really decreases,” Orbai explains, “that is when you consider a replacement. Until then, various medications, corticosteroids, joint injections and PT allow you to go about your life normally.”

Other Types of Arthritis

“Rheumatoid arthritis,” says Orbai, “is more often found in women. It is one of the most frequent forms of autoimmune disease and is usually diagnosed either around the age of 30 or around postmenopause, ages 50 to 55. It should be treated quickly because treatments can modulate or control the immune system so that it doesn’t attack one’s joints.

Gout, caused by a metabolic defect in the kidneys that precipitates crystals in the joints, is more often found in men. And for those who currently have psoriasis, one in three will develop psoriatic arthritis.”

Orbai explains, “RA is treated with medications that inhibit a vitamin in the cells to decrease inflammation. These medicines need to be closely followed by a rheumatologist as they could cause hepatitis. There’s also a link between RA and bacteria in the gums. Since many people don’t have dental insurance, gum disease is underdiagnosed and under treated. In addition, RA increases risk of heart disease and stroke because of the inflammation. Biologics, another treatment, lose efficacy after a few years.

That’s why there’s a constant need for new treatments.”

Effects of Arthritis on Our Population

According to the Arthritis Foundation, “Annually, 172 million work days are lost due to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions.”

There’s more bad news. “In 2013, total medical costs and earnings losses due to arthritis were $304 billion (about 1% of the U.S. gross domestic product for 2013).” With our population aging, these numbers will increase.

Another side effect of arthritis is the high incidence of depression and anxiety, far greater than in the general population. This contributes to a decreased quality of life.

And our military is adversely affected. Those in the service have a rate of arthritis 26% greater than others aged 20 to 24, and twice as high as those aged 40 and older. Even common athletic injuries lead to greater risk of developing OA.

All these different types of arthritis affect people in every demographic, from young kids to the most senior among us. Finding new and better ways to treat arthritis and improve the quality of life is an ongoing battle. Those who suffer hope that with new technologies, new tools, new discoveries, new interventions, and new treatments, solutions will be found. Let’s hope so. •

Arthritis, continued on page 26