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Carol Eustice

Arthritis Blog

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Routine Cancer Screenings Are Important for People With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Thursday May 29, 2014

Generally, we are all advised to get routine cancer screenings when appropriate, based on our gender and age. The screenings are even more important for people with rheumatoid arthritis. There is an increased risk of certain cancers with some of the rheumatic diseases and possibly with certain medications.

With an increased risk of cancer, it seems sensible to keep up with routine screenings. But, then, should those with an increased risk have more frequent cancer screenings? See what the experts say about cancer screenings for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Full article: Cancer Screenings Are Essential for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients.

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Early Rheumatoid Arthritis Less Likely to Be Well-Controlled in Overweight Patients

Sunday May 25, 2014

Rheumatoid arthritis is less likely to be well-controlled in its early stages among people who are overweight when diagnosed compared to those who are at their ideal or healthy weight. According to study results published online May 12, 2014 in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 90% of the 500 study participants were put on a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (most often methotrexate) at the time of diagnosis. At 3 months, overweight patients were 33% less likely to exhibit low disease activity than those of healthy weight.

At 3 and 6 months, overweight patients reported more pain and were less likely to have achieved remission than healthy weight patients. Researchers concluded that body fat may affect the disease itself or the effectiveness of medications -- perhaps by increasing inflammation.

More: Maintaining Your Ideal Weight With Arthritis | Arthritis and Weight Loss Quiz

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Physical Therapy No More Effective Than Sham Treatment for Hip Osteoarthritis

Saturday May 24, 2014

In adults with hip osteoarthritis, physical therapy does not help pain or function, according to study results published in the May 21, 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study involved 102 people with hip pain levels of 40 or higher on a visual analog scale of 100 mm (100 indicates worst pain possible) and hip osteoarthritis confirmed by x-ray.

Participants attended 10 treatment sessions over 12 weeks. Active treatment included education, manual therapy, home exercise, and gait aid. Sham treatment included inactive ultrasound and inert gel. For 24 weeks after treatment, the active group continued unsupervised home exercise and the sham group applied gel 3 times per week. There was no significant difference in results from physical therapy versus the sham treatment.

More: Hip Pain - What You Should Know | Hip Osteoarthritis

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Should Arthritis Patients With Joint Replacement Take Antibiotics Before Dental Procedures?

Tuesday May 20, 2014

In 1980, after I had my first hip replacement, I was told by my orthopedic surgeon that I would need to take oral antibiotics before dental procedures or invasive diagnostics. He explained when and how the antibiotics would need to be taken. Over the years, there were questions raised about how necessary it was to take the antibiotics.

Actually, the issue of antibiotic prophylaxis just seemed to become confusing. In 2012, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Dental Association got together to issue updated guidelines. Read the latest on antibiotic prophylaxis for patients with joint replacement. Full article: Antibiotic Prophylaxis Recommendations for Patients With Joint Replacement.

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Vectra DA Predicts Disease Progression in Patients With Early Rheumatoid Arthritis

Sunday May 18, 2014

Vectra DA is a strong predictor of joint damage visible on x-rays (i.e., disease progression) in newly-diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis patients, according to study data published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. Vectra DA, which was developed by Crescendo Bioscience, is a multi-biomarker blood test used to assess rheumatoid arthritis disease activity. In Vectra DA, a panel of 12 proteins that have been associated with rheumatoid arthritis are combined into one test that produces an objective, quantitative score (0-100) related to disease activity. A lower score is indicative of less disease activity.

The study, which evaluated Vectra DA as a predictor of one-year radiographic progression, involved 235 patients with early rheumatoid arthritis. The findings are significant because the test may help doctors make treatment decisions based on a patient's risk of disease progression.

More: What Is Vectra DA?

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People With Arthritis Are Significantly More Likely to Fall

Tuesday May 13, 2014

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), middle-aged and older adults with arthritis are significantly more likely to fall and become injured than people without arthritis. Here's the good news -- fall prevention programs can cut the risk of falls by up to a third.

The increased risk with arthritis is likely due to poor neuromuscular function (i.e., poor balance and walking speed). Additional findings, obtained from telephone surveys and published in the May 2, 2014 edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, included:

  • Adults with arthritis were about 30% more likely to have one fall in the past 12 months compared to those without arthritis.
  • Adults with arthritis were 2.5 times more likely to have fallen more than twice compared to those without arthritis.
  • Adults with arthritis were about 2.5 times more likely to have been injured from a fall compared to people without arthritis.

Exercise or physical therapy, by improving gait, balance, and lower body strengthen can cut the risk of falls by 14-37%. Consistent physical activity over time is what is necessary to decrease fall risk in people with arthritis.

Read more: How to Prevent Slips and Falls

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Life Expectancy Has Significantly Increased for People With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Tuesday May 13, 2014

When I started writing about arthritis 17 years ago, one of the facts I unearthed had to do with rheumatoid arthritis patients having decreased life expectancy. It was article-worthy so I wrote about it, but it was somewhat unsettling too, since I have rheumatoid arthritis. But, good news has come out of this year's annual meeting of the British Society for Rheumatology, as reported by MedpageToday.com. According to researchers, over the past 25 years, there has been a dramatic increase in the life expectancy of people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Study results revealed that between 1986 and 1998, the average age of death for a person with rheumatoid arthritis was 76.7 years. Between 2002 and 2012, the average age of death for someone with rheumatoid arthritis was 86.7 years. It was also determined that the average age of onset of rheumatoid arthritis went from 54.2 years of age to 58.5 years.

Read more: Mortality and Arthritis

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Negative Rheumatoid Factor Test Can Delay Referral to Rheumatologist

Tuesday May 6, 2014

A blood test, known as Rheumatoid Factor, is often ordered when you consult with a rheumatologist for the first time. Primary doctors sometimes order the test as well, but according to an oral abstract presented at the British Society for Rheumatology's annual conference, Rheumatology 2014, that can be a problem in some cases. Some primary doctors are misled by false negative results and delay the referral of a patient to a rheumatologist.

Researchers from the University of Oxford and the University of Bath analyzed a primary care database of 64,000 patients who were tested for rheumatoid factor between 2000-2008. There were 1,800 people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis within 2 years. Of those, 1,000 were positive for rheumatoid factor and 800 were negative for rheumatoid factor. Patients who had a negative result were not referred as quickly to a rheumatologist. The referral took about 67 days, which was 45 days longer than for rheumatoid factor positive patients.

Researchers concluded that the delay is significant because early diagnosis and treatment are essential for rheumatoid arthritis. Patients should be referred on the basis of symptoms and the rheumatoid factor test should not be used in primary care settings to rule out rheumatoid arthritis.

More: Rheumatoid Factor Blood Test | First Visit to the Rheumatologist

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Rituxan May Be Better Than TNF Blockers for Rheumatoid Lung Disease

Friday May 2, 2014

Rheumatoid arthritis patients with interstitial lung disease appear to improve their chance of survival if treated with Rituxan rather than TNF blockers, according to study results reported by the British Society for Rheumatology and MedpageToday.com. Results showed a four-fold reduction in respiratory mortality in patients treated with Rituxan compared to TNF blockers.

Pulmonary complications of rheumatoid arthritis are not uncommon. Histological evidence from post-mortem exams show 40-50% of rheumatoid arthritis patients with evidence of fibrosis. Radiological evidence of fibrosis has been found in about 25% of patients.

The aforementioned study involved 188 patients and while the findings involved small numbers, those numbers were considered statistically significant. It was an observational study and not a controlled trial though. A prospective, controlled trial to confirm the findings would be needed.

More: What Is Rheumatoid Lung Disease?

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Do You Need Financial Help With Your Biologic Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Thursday April 24, 2014

Some arthritis patients are apprehensive when their doctor recommends one of the biologic drugs. The drugs are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. While some patients shy away because of possible side effects, or they don't like the idea of self-injection or intravenous infusion, others are put off by the cost of the drugs.

I have compiled a list of where you can go for financial assistance. You may qualify even if you have insurance. Don't assume you don't qualify. Check it out. Full article: Financial Assistance for Arthritis Patients Prescribed Biologic Drugs.

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