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Study: 1/3 of knee replacements are questionable
June 30th, 2014
03:34 PM ET

Study: 1/3 of knee replacements are questionable

Whether to replace aging knees can be a tough decision. More than 650,000 Americans underwent total knee replacement surgery last year, but a new paper from researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University suggests that a third of those were not “appropriate,” based on standard medical criteria.

The study authors analyzed 175 cases, looking at imaging tests to find the degree of arthritis, as well as each patient’s age and reported pain level. Only 44% of the operations were rated “appropriate.” Thirty-four percent were “inappropriate,” while 22% were inconclusive.

But appropriateness is in the eye of the beholder, says Dr. Jeffery Katz, an orthopedic surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. When the current criteria were developed in the late 1990s, knee replacement “was considered a treatment of last resort,” Katz writes in an editorial published alongside the study in the Journal of Arthritis and Rheumatism. Today, many are being done in relatively healthy people in their 50s and 60s.
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Herbal remedy may improve arthritis symptoms
April 14th, 2014
08:48 PM ET

Herbal remedy may improve arthritis symptoms

A traditional herbal remedy may treat rheumatoid arthritis as effectively as an FDA-approved drug treatment, according to a preliminary study published this week in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Triptergium wilfordii Hook F, also known as the "Thunder God Vine," has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat joint pain and inflammation, though no U.S. manufacturer currently sells the root extract, according to the NIH.

"It actually does show a clinical benefit," said Dr. Eric Matteson, rheumatology chair at Mayo Clinic, who was not involved with the study. "I think it is something that deserves further evaluation, without a doubt."
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NIH, drug companies team up to target diseases
February 4th, 2014
02:41 PM ET

NIH, drug companies team up to target diseases

The National Institutes of Health is partnering with researchers from 10 rival drug companies and several nonprofit organizations to develop new and earlier treatments for diseases including diabetes, Alzheimer's and lupus.

The partnership, announced  Tuesday by NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, "could change the way scientific research is conducted."

"This is an unprecedented partnership, bringing the best and brightest scientists from the public and the private sectors together to discover the next generation of drug targets that are going to transform our ability to treat Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and that's just getting started,” Collins said.

The consortium will be known as the Accelerating Medicines Partnership.  It will focus at first on three disease groups: Alzheimer's, diabetes and autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

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Some shoe insoles don't relieve knee pain
August 20th, 2013
04:01 PM ET

Some shoe insoles don't relieve knee pain

For patients with medial knee osteoarthritis, lateral wedge insoles do not reduce knee pain, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Medial knee osteoarthritis is when the cushioning layer (cartilage) between the knees deteriorates over time resulting in the bone rubbing against each other leaving a person with knee pain, stiffness and swelling.  This injury is becoming more prevalent and can make some everyday activities more difficult, including walking, running and using stairs.

Obesity, genetics, biological and environmental factors as well as increased usage can make someone more prone to developing knee osteoarthritis.  Using shoe inserts is a fairly common treatment for knee pain because it's not invasive and it's fairly inexpensive.

Researchers reviewed 12 studies that included a total of 885 participants, 502 who received lateral wedge insoles for the treatment of knee pain.

"We don't seem to see a difference in pain when using a lateral wedge compared to a flat wedge," said lead study author Matthew Parkes. Parkes, who is also a statistician at the University of Manchester, noted that although using the lateral wedge seems like an attractive treatment because it's not invasive - and pretty cheap - the data doesn't support an average overall effect.
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Filed under: Arthritis • Conditions • Orthopedics • Pain

Fatty fish may help prevent rheumatoid arthritis
August 12th, 2013
06:35 PM ET

Fatty fish may help prevent rheumatoid arthritis

Numerous medical studies have shown that fatty fish is healthy for the heart. Now researchers say it may also help prevent a debilitating type of arthritis.

Just one serving a week of a fatty fish such as salmon, or four servings a week of a leaner fish such as cod, may cut your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by half, according to a study in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

The study

Researchers reviewed the diets of 32,000 Swedish women who filled out two food questionnaires, one in the late 1980s and another a decade later.
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Study questions efficacy and safety of knee injections
June 11th, 2012
05:01 PM ET

Study questions efficacy and safety of knee injections

If you're one of the estimated 27 million Americans with osteoarthritis, you're probably all too familiar with the feeling of aching, swollen, or stiff knees.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen may relieve those painful symptoms in most patients. But for others, doctors may prescribe a more invasive treatment that involves injecting hyaluronic acid in to the knee, called viscosupplementation. 

Now, a new report questions the efficacy of this treatment for osteoarthritis in the knee. 

Hyaluronic acid is a lubricating fluid that is naturally found in the knee, but degenerates over time in people with osteoarthritis. The effect of the injection used in viscosupplementation is to stimulate cells in the knee to increase production of hyaluronic acid.
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Arthritis impacts physical, mental health
April 28th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Arthritis impacts physical, mental health

Arthritis can limit mobility and make everyday tasks painful, and it can also take a toll on your mental health and overall quality of life, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed data from several national health surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  and found that people with arthritis—which includes those with aging-related osteoarthritis and similar conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout—tend to rate lower than their peers on measures of overall health.

Got RA? How are you coping? Take this test

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Filed under: Arthritis • Health.com

January 18th, 2011
08:15 AM ET

Human Factor: Transcending pain, for a passion

In the Human Factor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces you to survivors who have overcome tremendous odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn’t know they possessed. Be inspired by their successes, as we have been. Today we hear from acclaimed pianist Byron Janis.

When I was 11, an injury to my little finger left it permanently numb and almost ended my budding musical career. Since that day,  I have understood what it means to overcome adversity.

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Filed under: Arthritis • Human Factor

Walking may slow brain decline
November 29th, 2010
02:45 PM ET

Walking may slow brain decline

Three studies presented Monday at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting use imaging techniques to show how exercise can affect our bodies and brains.

Walking may slow cognitive decline in adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as benefiting brains of healthy adults.

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Tai chi helps arthritis pain, stiffness
November 7th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Tai chi helps arthritis pain, stiffness

The ancient Chinese martial art of tai chi may be  an effective  way to help alleviate problems associated with arthritis, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine report.

An estimated 50 million adults in the U.S. have  some form of arthritis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although many of these people turn to medication to help them deal with the pain, the medical community continues to look for ways to help these patients.

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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