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What to Do if You Suspect Arthritis

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There are two questions I get more than any other. "Could my symptoms be caused by arthritis?" and "I think I have arthritis, what should I do?" If you suspect you may have arthritis, here are 6 things you should do.

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CDC Raises Concerns Over Culture Test for Lyme Disease

Saturday April 19, 2014

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has reviewed published methods and results for a new laboratory-developed test for Lyme disease. The test involves a culture process to identify the spirochete that causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi. The culture method, which was published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences, utilizes a two-step enrichment process followed by immunostaining with or without PCR (polymerase chain reaction) analysis. Despite the reportedly high success rate of the test, upon review, the CDC expressed concern over false positive results caused by laboratory contamination which could lead to misdiagnosis.

Late stage Lyme disease can be associated with arthritis. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential, but it must be done properly. The CDC currently recommends two-tier serologic testing for the diagnosis of Lyme disease which utilizes an FDA-approved enzyme immunoassay (EIA) that can be confirmed with an FDA-approved immunoblot test, known as the Western blot test. A patient is diagnosed with Lyme disease when both the EIA and Western blot yield positive results.

The CDC issued a warning back in 2005 about the questionable accuracy and usefulness of "home brew" tests (i.e., tests developed and used by a single laboratory that are not cleared by the FDA). In the April 18, 2014 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC reiterates their concern.

More: Facts About Lyme Disease | Lyme Disease Screening Quiz

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Why Are You Experiencing Inadequate Relief From Arthritis Pain?

Tuesday April 15, 2014

Most people with early symptoms of arthritis try to self-treat initially. If symptoms persist, they usually consult with a doctor. Even then, there are many treatment options and decisions to make. Over time, it is not uncommon for arthritis patients to switch medications or try complementary treatments if they feel pain relief is inadequate.

It is important to recognize when your current treatment is ineffective. First, you must consider why relief may be insufficient. I have compiled a list of possible reasons. It could be the treatment -- but it could also be due to other factors. Full article: 10 Reasons You May Have Inadequate Relief From Arthritis Pain.

More: Arthritis Treatment - What to Expect | Arthritis Medications - Are They Working? | Arthritis Treatment Options

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NSAIDs May Increase Risk of Atrial Fibrillation

Sunday April 13, 2014

Current and recent use of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may be linked to an increased risk of atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) in adults age 55 and older. NSAIDs are commonly prescribed to treat arthritis. According to BMJ Open, researchers monitored the heart health of 8,423 people taking part in the Rotterdam Study, a population based study that has been tracking the development of illness and associated risk factors in adults 55 and over since 1990 in one district of Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

During a period of about 13 years, 857 of the 8,423 participants developed atrial fibrillation. Of those who developed atrial fibrillation, 261 had never used NSAIDs, 554 had used NSAIDs in the past, and 42 were currently taking NSAIDs. Current use of NSAIDs was associated with a 76% greater risk of atrial fibrillation than never having used NSAIDs, after adjusting for other risk factors, including age, sex, and existing cardiovascular problems. Recent use (within the last 30 days) was linked to an 84% greater risk of atrial fibrillation. The trend for higher doses to be linked to a higher risk was not statistically significant. Also, current use of NSAIDs for more than 30 days was not associated with higher risk of atrial fibrillation. The findings suggest that the increased risk occurs shortly after starting treatment with NSAIDs, and it may disappear over time. More studies are needed to fully explain the underlying mechanism.

More: Facts About NSAIDs | NSAIDs - Test Your Knowledge

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Have Higher Risk of Kidney Disease Than General Population

Thursday April 10, 2014

People with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop reduced kidney function over time compared to the general population, according to study results published in the February 2014 issue of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases. Researchers studied 813 Mayo Clinic patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 813 without the disease. Over a 20-year period, those with rheumatoid arthritis have a 1 in 4 chance of developing chronic kidney disease compared to a 1 in 5 chance for the general population. While that may sound insignificant, it is not.

Factors contributing to the higher risk of kidney disease in rheumatoid arthritis patients include corticosteroid use, an elevated sedimentation rate in the first year of having rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Researchers advised doctors to be cautious when selecting medications for rheumatoid arthritis patients and to order periodic blood tests and urinalysis to detect kidney abnormalities. To reduce the risk of developing kidney disease, patients are advised to keep their blood pressure under control, avoid a diet that is high in salt, avoid medications that are toxic to the kidneys (e.g., NSAIDs), and get inflammation under control.

Tests Detect Kidney Problems | Blood Tests Monitor Effectiveness and Toxicity of Medications

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