Remedies for Gout Relief

Remedies for Gout Relief

There is no cure for gout, but it can be controlled and treated. Usually, the pain associated with gout will subside within 24 hours after treatment has begun. The main objectives of treatment are pain relieving and prevent future attacks of gout.

Although gout is well known, it is not a typical arthritic condition. Gout is caused by an accumulation of uric acid crystals in joints, causing joint pain and inflammation.

Colchicine is a traditional drug used since the 1800's as a treatment for gout. Although Colhicine produces desirable results, it does have side effects of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are also used to treat gout, which does not have the side effects of colhicine. Indomethacin is a widely used NSAID in the treatment of gout. Patients should avoid Aspirin and aspirin-containing products during the attack of gout.

Those people who have had multiple attacks or developed tophi or kidney stones should stabilize uric acid level in the blood. Probenecid is an important drug, which helps the kidney, eliminate uric acid. Another drug called Alopurinol is used to block the excess production of uric acid by the body. The drug of choice between these types of drugs depends upon the quantity of uric acid excreted through urine.

Zyloprim, is a potent treatment for gout, and is usually prescribe for gout patients with kidney stones or other kidney problems. This drug slows down the rate of production of uric acid by the body. The patients who took this drug showed side effects such as skin rashes and stomach upset. Both of these symptoms usually go away as the body began accustomed to the drug.

As we know, prevention is better than treatment; avoiding the intake of food high in uric acid can readily prevent the occurrence of gout. Reducing alcohol consumption is also often helpful.

Alcoholic beverages should not exceed 3 ounces per day. Reduce or eliminate the purine-containing foods such as organ meats (sweet breads, liver, and kidneys), shrimp, sardines, dried legumes, and anchovies.

There are many natural products available in the market. Incorporate flax seed or omega 3 oil into your diet to help reduce inflammation and tissue damage. Burdock root can help rid the body of acidic waste build up and help supports normal uric acid levels in the body.

If you suffer from gout, see your doctor and discuss a pain relief program and a correct diet to reduce gout occurrences. With correct treatment and diet, gout outbreaks can be well controlled.

Copaxone

Copaxone

There is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis. There are several medications thought to slow the progression of the disease. In some people, these medications can reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups, and may help reduce the number of brain and spinal cord lesions. These medications are fairly new, so it is unknown if they help reduce the extent of disability from MS

One of these medications is Copaxone. This injectable medication is used to treat Relapsing-Remitting MS. It has no effect on the three other types of Multiple Sclerosis.

Researchers are not completely sure how Copaxone works to slow MS progression. It is believed that the drug prevents damage causing cells from forming, and at the same time stimulating the beneficial cells to help reduce the damage in the areas with lesions.

Those who choose Copaxone therapy for MS give themselves a subcutaneous injection (shot under the skin) every day. The medication is dispensed in pre-filled syringes. Measuring is not necessary. Patients using this therapy will be taught how to give injections and for most people the entire procedure takes less than one minute.

As with any medication, there are side effects associated with Copaxone. The most common side effects are swelling, redness, pain, itching or a lump at the injection site. Some people experience a break down of the fatty tissue in the area they take injections.

Just as common are general body reactions like chest pain, weakness, nausea, joint pain, anxiety, muscle stiffness, and feeling flushed. According to the makers of Copaxone, these effects are mild and do not usually require medical treatment.

Less common, but more severe side effects include hives, skin rash with irritation, dizziness, sweating, chest pain, trouble breathing, severe injection site pain and general painful or uncomfortable changes in your overall health. Patients experiencing the above side effects should stop taking injections and call their doctor immediately.
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A Look at Pain Relief for Fibromyalgia

A Look at Pain Relief for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic disease that affects the musculoskeletal system. Symptoms vary widely among sufferers, but generally include muscle and joint aches, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and tenderness in several of eighteen specific areas, or “trigger points” on the body. Fibromyalgia is often overlooked by sufferers as the inevitable result of a busy schedule and everyday stress. When patients do seek treatment, doctors often misdiagnose fibromyalgia as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, or another musculoskeletal condition. It affects women far more often than men, at a ratio of about ten to one. While some cases result from a specific trauma, more often the exact cause is unknown.

The first step to fibromyalgia pain relief is being properly diagnosed. The condition is not completely understood by the medical community, and there is no specific course of treatment. Most advice given to patients reads like a weight-loss program, recommending low-intensity exercise, drinking lots of water, and reducing mental and physical stresses such as those caused by saturated fats, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, meat and sugar.

Anti-depressants are often prescribed as part of the treatment, which elevate the mood of the patient. Muscle relaxants and sleep aids may also be recommended. Since fibromyalgia sufferers are often found to be low in manganese and magnesium, both of which help balance thyroid function, nutritional supplements may prove beneficial as well.

Physical therapy is another essential component for fibromyalgia pain relief, as it teaches patients methods of walking, stretching, and exercise that reduce muscle tension and fatigue. A physical therapist will also teach patients how to make use of ergonomic tools in their daily life, like padded chairs and special keyboards designed to minimize muscle strain.

Some patients choose to incorporate alternative treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage therapy into their treatment. While the efficacy of these natural treatments has not been carefully studied and quantified, testimonials of fibromyalgia sufferers indicate that all of these alternative treatments may help alleviate symptoms of the disease. Whatever patients decide upon, it must be remembered that there is no simple cure for fibromyalgia, and a comprehensive plan that address mental and psychological symptoms and promotes healthy lifestyle habits is the most direct method of obtaining fibromyalgia pain relief.

Acupuncture and Arthritis

Acupuncture and Arthritis

Arthritis is a complex disorder that comprises several distinct conditions, all of them sharing one common symptom: chronic joint pain. For years, a significant aspect of modern medical science has been dedicated to finding the cure for arthritis, with varied results. Some forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis – a degenerative condition affecting the cartilage leading to inflammation of the joints – are irreversible, hence, much of the treatment has been focused more on pain reduction than on an actual cure.

However, a new study has made a connection between acupuncture and arthritis. The study said that the combination of acupuncture and arthritis can significantly reduce pain and improve function in those suffering osteoarthritis of the knee.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical procedure wherein hair-thin needles are inserted into points along “energy channels” – meridians, where the life force of the human body flows through. This is thought to help unblock the clogged energy channels and thus, help ease pain as a result of such blockage.

As part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – a form of alternative medicine based on the belief that an essential life force, qi, flows through the body along channels called meridians – acupuncture is among the oldest form of medical procedure in the world. The first form of acupuncture was started in China more than 2,000 years ago but is now widely practiced in Asia and Europe. With the recent discovery about the connection between acupuncture and arthritis, specifically on its role as a pain reliever, the procedure is increasingly becoming popular in the United States as well.

As opposed to what you may believe, getting stuck with needles for a few minutes is not as torturous as it sounds. In fact, most people who believe in the healing connection between acupuncture and arthritis, say that there is only a slight stinging sensation when the needles prick the skin, but that is all. There is no pain after that. The needles used in acupuncture are very thin, smooth, and solid, unlike hypodermic needles which are hollow with cutting edges. The length of each session may vary, depending on the kind of disorder you wish to be treated. When it comes to acupuncture and arthritis, treatment may require two sessions a week and may last for several months.

Study on Acupuncture and Arthritis

The study on acupuncture and arthritis was conducted by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Considered as one of the largest and longest clinical trials to show such conclusive effects of acupuncture and arthritis on patients, the study reported a 44 percent average reduction in pain and a 40 percent improvement in mobility.

For purposes of the study, the researchers enrolled 570 patients who are aged from 50 above, with arthritis of the knee, and who had been suffering significant pain in the same the month before the study was conducted. The patients were then randomly assigned three different treatments, and it was found that those who specifically underwent acupuncture and arthritis treatment had a 40 percent decrease in pain and a nearly 40 percent improvement in function.

“We have demonstrated that traditional Chinese acupuncture is an effective complement to conventional arthritis treatment and can be successfully employed as part of a multi-disciplinary approach to treating the symptoms of osteoarthritis,” says Brian Berman of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore.

Common Symptoms for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Common Symptoms for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Unlike other types of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is actually an autoimmune disease. The immune system of a patient with rheumatoid arthritis turns on its own, specifically attacking the joints and other surrounding tissue. In a way, rheumatoid arthritis could be likened to allergies but with starkly different symptoms. While the common symptoms of allergies include runny nose, itchiness of the eyes, and skin rash, the common symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis include inflammation in the lining of the joints and pain in the affected areas.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that affects more than two million people, usually between the ages of 20 and 25. Additionally, the common symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis occur in all races and ethnic groups, regardless of age or sex, although it appears that the disease affects two to three times as many women as men.

Diagnosis

Since the common symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis differ from patient to patient, there is no single method of making accurate diagnosis. Moreover, the symptoms tend to develop overtime, making it even more difficult to identify the disease early on. To determine the existence of the common symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis, health care professionals apply a variety of methods from blood testing to X-rays. Aside from identifying the common symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis, these methods are also used to rule out other conditions that may display more or less the same symptoms.

The other factors that health care practitioners often take into account when diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis include:

* Medical history
* Physical examinations
* Laboratory tests
* X-rays

After Diagnosis, Now what?

After a patient is diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, the next step is to learn as much as you can about the disease in order to understand it. First up, you need to understand that early detection of the common symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis s often the key to helping you live longer despite the disease. Remember that there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis and that as the person ages, the symptoms may grow worse. However, if you identify these common symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis early on and undergo aggressive treatment, you increase your chance of living a long and healthy normal life.

Dealing with the Pain

One of the most common symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis is joint pain. Usually this is accompanied by some degree of depression, anxiety, and feelings of helplessness. Most patients who suffer joint pain also suffer morning stiffness in and around the joints. Sometimes the pain becomes too much to bear that patients refuse to move as motion will only serve to aggravate the pain.

However, recent studies show that exercise can actually alleviate some of the common symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis. Constant motion balanced with a good diet and plenty of rest will ease the pain that comes with this debilitating disease and help you live a better life.

Be advised that you should consult with your doctor first before attempting any strenuous exercise routines, as there are some types of exercises that arthritic patients should not do.

Tennis Elbow Treatment

Tennis Elbow Treatment

How do you cure tennis elbow? First you have to know what causes it and how it happens. Tennis elbow involves injury to the extensor muscles of your forearm and its tendon origin. You have to be aware of the tissues that you have injured to eliminate the symptoms. The elbow is a hinge joint allowing both flexion and extension. The bone structure and its ligaments make its function stable. Tennis involves repeated gripping and twisting movements which work your extensor muscles. If repetitive micro-trauma is placed on the tissues, these tissues are unable to cope up which results to muscle tear on this area.

Tennis elbow treatment for tennis elbow injury varies, depending on the severity of the injury. Some treatment may include stopping or limiting activities that causes the pain, in these cases a band is wrapped around the forearm near the elbow or a wrist sprint is recommended and are used to protect the injured muscles as they heal.

Other primary tennis elbow treatment includes; anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), injections, and by the treatment called R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). But these tennis elbow treatments however can just treat the symptoms but not the main cause of the injury. In severe cases, an injection of medication into the injured area can relieve the pain. Surgeons recommend exercises such as stretching and strengthening the muscles to help stop the condition from returning. Some go through therapy and as the condition improves they gradually return to normal activities. This condition however is recurring in most cases. If the non- surgical forms of tennis elbow treatment do not work, then surgery may be recommended.

Here are categories of tennis elbow treatment: reducing pain, which includes the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; reducing inflammation, by putting packs of ice on the injured area combined with compression and elevation; inducing the healing process; maintaining fitness, by rehabilitation of the injured area through exercise; and control force placed on injured tissues, such as tennis elbow braces and wrist sprint.

A new form of possible tennis elbow treatment has arise, one is called Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy, wherein sound waves are used to induce so called ‘micro-trauma’ to tissues that initiates a healing response and helps to decrease inflammation. Another is Autologous Blood Injection, were in the Journal of Hand Surgery reported the results of a small group of patients who underwent injection of their own blood into the location of lateral epicondylitis with the underlying idea that the blood injection supplies the necessary healing components to help cure the problem.

Overview of What Arthritis Is

Overview of What Arthritis Is

Unlike osteoarthritis, which results from wear and tear on your joints, rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition. The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, but it's believed to be the body's immune system attacking the tissue that lines your joints (synovium).

Rheumatoid arthritis is two to three times more common in women than in men and generally strikes between the ages of 20 and 50. But rheumatoid arthritis can also affect young children and adults older than age 50.

There's no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. But with proper treatment, a strategy for joint protection and changes in lifestyle, you can live a long, productive life with this condition.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may come and go over time. They include:

* Pain and swelling in your joints, especially in the smaller joints of your hands and feet

* Generalized aching or stiffness of the joints and muscles, especially after sleep or after periods of rest

* Loss of motion of the affected joints

* Loss of strength in muscles attached to the affected joints

* Fatigue, which can be severe during a flare-up

* Low-grade fever

* Deformity of your joints over time

* General sense of not feeling well (malaise)

Rheumatoid arthritis usually causes problems in several joints at the same time. Early in rheumatoid arthritis, the joints in your wrists, hands, feet and knees are the ones most often affected. As the disease progresses, your shoulders, elbows, hips, jaw and neck can become involved. It generally affects both sides of your body at the same time. The knuckles of both hands are one example.

Small lumps, called rheumatoid nodules, may form under your skin at pressure points and can occur at your elbows, hands, feet and Achilles tendons. Rheumatoid nodules may also occur elsewhere, including the back of your scalp, over your knee or even in your lungs. These nodules can range in size — from as small as a pea to as large as a walnut. Usually these lumps aren't painful.

In contrast to osteoarthritis, which affects only your bones and joints, rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation of tear glands, salivary glands, the linings of your heart and lungs, your lungs themselves and, in rare cases, your blood vessels.

Although rheumatoid arthritis is often a chronic disease, it tends to vary in severity and may even come and go. Periods of increased disease activity — called flare-ups or flares — alternate with periods of relative remission, during which the swelling, pain, difficulty sleeping, and weakness fade or disappear.

Swelling or deformity may limit the flexibility of your joints. But even if you have a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis, you'll probably retain flexibility in many joints.
Illustration comparing rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, involves the wearing away of the cartilage that caps the bones in your joints. With rheumatoid arthritis, the synovial membrane that protects and lubricates joints becomes inflamed, causing pain and swelling. Joint erosion may follow.
More On This Topic

* Osteoarthritis

Causes

As with other forms of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis involves inflammation of the joints. A membrane called the synovium lines each of your movable joints. When you have rheumatoid arthritis, white blood cells — whose usual job is to attack unwanted invaders, such as bacteria and viruses — move from your bloodstream into your synovium. Here, these blood cells appear to play an important role in causing the synovial membrane to become inflamed (synovitis).

This inflammation results in the release of proteins that, over months or years, cause thickening of the synovium. These proteins can also damage cartilage, bone, tendons and ligaments. Gradually, the joint loses its shape and alignment. Eventually, it may be destroyed.

Some researchers suspect that rheumatoid arthritis is triggered by an infection — possibly a virus or bacterium — in people with an inherited susceptibility. Although the disease itself is not inherited, certain genes that create an increased susceptibility are. People who have inherited these genes won't necessarily develop rheumatoid arthritis. But they may have more of a tendency to do so than others. The severity of their disease may also depend on the genes inherited. Some researchers also believe that hormones may be involved in the development of rheumatoid arthritis.
Illustration showing inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis typically strikes joints, causing pain, swelling and deformity. As your synovial membranes become inflamed and thickened, fluid builds up and joints erode and degrade.
Risk factors

The exact causes of rheumatoid arthritis are unclear, but these factors may increase your risk:

* Getting older, because incidence of rheumatoid arthritis increases with age. However, incidence begins to decline in women over the age of 80.

* Being female.

* Being exposed to an infection, possibly a virus or bacterium, that may trigger rheumatoid arthritis in those with an inherited susceptibility.

* Inheriting specific genes that may make you more susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis.

* Smoking cigarettes over a long period of time.

When to seek medical advice

See your doctor if you have persistent discomfort and swelling in multiple joints on both sides of your body. Your doctor can work with you to develop a pain management and treatment plan. Also seek medical advice if you experience side effects from your arthritis medications. Side effects may include nausea, abdominal discomfort, black or tarry stools, changes in bowel habits, constipation and drowsiness.
Screening and diagnosis

If you have signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor will likely conduct a physical examination and request laboratory tests to determine if you have this form of arthritis. These tests may include:

* Blood tests. A blood test that measures your erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR or sed rate) can indicate the presence of an inflammatory process in your body. People with rheumatoid arthritis tend to have elevated ESRs. The ESRs in those with osteoarthritis tend to be normal.

Another blood test looks for an antibody called rheumatoid factor. Most people with rheumatoid arthritis eventually have this abnormal antibody, although it may be absent early in the disease. It's also possible to have the rheumatoid factor in your blood and not have rheumatoid arthritis.

* Imaging. Doctors may take X-rays of your joints to differentiate between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. A sequence of X-rays obtained over time can show the progression of arthritis.

Complications

Rheumatoid arthritis causes stiffness and pain and may also cause fatigue. It can lead to difficulty with everyday tasks, such as turning a doorknob or holding a pen. Dealing with the pain and the unpredictability of rheumatoid arthritis can also cause symptoms of depression.

Rheumatoid arthritis may also increase your risk of developing osteoporosis, especially if you take corticosteroids. Some researchers believe that rheumatoid arthritis can increase your risk of heart disease. This may be because the inflammation that rheumatoid arthritis causes can also affect your arteries and heart muscle tissue.

In the past, people with rheumatoid arthritis may have ended up confined to a wheelchair because damage to joints made it difficult or impossible to walk. That's not as likely today because of better treatments and self-care methods.
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* Osteoporosis

Treatment

Treatments for arthritis have improved in recent years. Most treatments involve medications. But in some cases, surgical procedures may be necessary.

Medications

Medications for rheumatoid arthritis can relieve its symptoms and slow or halt its progression. They include:

* Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This group of medications, which includes aspirin, helps relieve both pain and inflammation if you take the drugs regularly. NSAIDs that are available over-the-counter include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve). These are available at higher dosages, and other NSAIDs are available by prescription — such as ketoprofen, naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn), tolmetin (Tolectin), diclofenac (Voltaren), nabumetone (Relafen) and indomethacin (Indocin). Taking NSAIDs can lead to side effects such as indigestion and stomach bleeding. Other potential side effects may include damage to the liver and kidneys, ringing in your ears (tinnitus), fluid retention and high blood pressure. NSAIDs, except aspirin, may also increase your risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke.

* COX-2 inhibitors. This class of NSAIDs may be less damaging to your stomach. Like other NSAIDs, COX-2 inhibitors — such as celecoxib (Celebrex) — suppress an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX) that's active in joint inflammation. Other types of NSAIDs work against two versions of the COX enzyme that are present in your body: COX-1 and COX-2. However, there's evidence that by suppressing COX-1, NSAIDs may cause stomach and other problems because COX-1 is the enzyme that protects your stomach lining. Unlike other NSAIDs, COX-2 inhibitors suppress only COX-2, the enzyme involved in inflammation. Side effects may include fluid retention and causing or exacerbating high blood pressure. Furthermore, this class of drugs has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

* Corticosteroids. These medications, such as prednisone and methylprednisolone (Medrol), reduce inflammation and pain, and slow joint damage. In the short term, corticosteroids can make you feel dramatically better. But when used for many months or years, they may become less effective and cause serious side effects. Side effects may include easy bruising, thinning of bones, cataracts, weight gain, a round face and diabetes. Doctors often prescribe a corticosteroid to relieve acute symptoms, with the goal of gradually tapering off the medication.

* Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Physicians prescribe DMARDs to limit the amount of joint damage that occurs in rheumatoid arthritis. Taking these drugs at early stages in the development of rheumatoid arthritis is especially important in the effort to slow the disease and save the joints and other tissues from permanent damage. Because many of these drugs act slowly — it may take weeks to months before you notice any benefit — DMARDs typically are used with an NSAID or a corticosteroid. While the NSAID or corticosteroid handles your immediate symptoms and limits inflammation, the DMARD goes to work on the disease itself. Some commonly used DMARDs include hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), the gold compound auranofin (Ridaura), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), minocycline (Dynacin, Minocin) and methotrexate (Rheumatrex). Other forms of DMARDs include immunosuppressants and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers.

* Immunosuppressants. These medications act to tame your immune system, which is out of control in rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, some of these drugs attack and eliminate cells that are associated with the disease. Some of the commonly used immunosuppressants include leflunomide (Arava), azathioprine (Imuran), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan). These medications can have potentially serious side effects such as increased susceptibility to infection.

* TNF blockers. These are a class of DMARDs known as biologic response modifiers. TNF is a cytokine, or cell protein, that acts as an inflammatory agent in rheumatoid arthritis. TNF blockers, or anti-TNF medications, target or block this cytokine and can help reduce pain, morning stiffness and tender or swollen joints — usually within one or two weeks after treatment begins. There is evidence that TNF blockers may halt progression of disease. These medications often are taken with methotrexate. TNF blockers approved for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis are etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade) and adalimumab (Humira). Potential side effects include injection site irritation (adalimumab and etanercept), worsening congestive heart failure (infliximab), blood disorders, lymphoma, demyelinating diseases, and increased risk of infection. If you have an active infection, don't take these medications.

* Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra). IL-1Ra is another type of biologic response modifier and is a recombinant form of the naturally occurring interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra). Interleukin-1 (IL-1) is a cell protein that promotes inflammation and occurs in excess amounts in people who have rheumatoid arthritis or other types of inflammatory arthritis. If IL-1 is prevented from binding to its receptor, the inflammatory response decreases. The first IL-1Ra that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in people with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis who haven't responded adequately to conventional DMARD therapy is anakinra (Kineret). It may be used alone or in combination with methotrexate. Anakinra is given as a daily self-administered injection under the skin. Some potential side effects include injection site reactions, decreased white blood cell counts, headache and an increase in upper respiratory infections. There may be a slightly higher rate of respiratory infections in people who have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. If you have an active infection, don't use anakinra.

* Abatacept (Orencia). Abatacept, a type of costimulation modulator approved in late 2005, reduces the inflammation and joint damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis by inactivating T cells — a type of white blood cell. People who haven't been helped by TNF blockers might consider abatacept, which is administered monthly through a vein in your arm (intravenously). Side effects may include headache, nausea and mild infections, such as upper respiratory tract infections. Serious infections, such as pneumonia, can occur.

* Rituximab (Rituxan). Rituximab reduces the number of B cells in your body. B cells are involved in inflammation. Though originally approved for use in people with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, rituximab was approved for rheumatoid arthritis in early 2006. People who haven't found relief using TNF blockers might consider using rituximab, which is usually given along with methotrexate. Rituximab is administered as an infusion into a vein in your arm. Side effects include flu-like signs and symptoms, such as fever, chills and nausea. Some people experience extreme reactions to the infusion, such as difficulty breathing and heart problems.

* Antidepressant drugs. Some people with arthritis also experience symptoms of depression. The most common antidepressants used for arthritis pain and nonrestorative sleep are amitriptyline, nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor) and trazodone (Desyrel).

Surgical or other procedures

Although a combination of medication and self-care is the first course of action for rheumatoid arthritis, other methods are available for severe cases:

* Prosorba column. This blood-filtering technique removes certain antibodies that contribute to pain and inflammation in your joints and muscles and is usually performed once a week for 12 weeks as an outpatient procedure. Some of the side effects include fatigue and a brief increase in joint pain and swelling for the first few days after the treatment. The Prosorba column treatment isn't recommended if you're taking angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or if you have heart problems, high blood pressure or blood-clotting problems.

* Joint replacement surgery. For many people with rheumatoid arthritis, medicines and therapies can't prevent joint destruction. When joints are severely damaged, joint replacement surgery can often help restore joint function, reduce pain or correct a deformity. You may need to have an entire joint replaced with a metal or plastic prosthesis. Surgery may also involve tightening tendons that are too loose, loosening tendons that are too tight, fusing bones to reduce pain or removing part of a diseased bone to improve mobility. Your doctor may also remove the inflamed joint lining (synovectomy).

More On This Topic

* Steroid use: Balancing the risks and benefits
* Are COX-2 drugs safe for you? An interview with a Mayo Clinic specialist
* Knee replacement: Surgery can relieve pain

Self-care

Treating rheumatoid arthritis typically involves using a combination of medical treatments and self-care strategies. The following self-care procedures are important elements for managing the disease:

* Exercise regularly. Different types of exercise achieve different goals. Check with your doctor or physical therapist first and then begin a regular exercise program for your specific needs. If you can walk, walking is a good starter exercise. If you can't walk, try a stationary bicycle with little or no resistance or do hand or arm exercises. A chair exercise program may be helpful. Aquatic exercise is another option, and many health clubs with pools offer such classes.

It's good to move each joint in its full range of motion every day. As you move, maintain a slow, steady rhythm. Don't jerk or bounce. Also, remember to breathe. Holding your breath can temporarily deprive your muscles of oxygen and tire them. It's also important to maintain good posture while you exercise. Avoid exercising tender, injured or severely inflamed joints. If you feel new joint pain, stop. New pain that lasts more than two hours after you exercise probably means you've overdone it. If pain persists for more than a few days, call your doctor.

* Control your weight. Excess weight puts added stress on joints in your back, hips, knees and feet — the places where arthritis pain is commonly felt. Excess weight can also make joint surgery more difficult and risky.

* Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet emphasizing fruit, vegetables and whole grains can help you control your weight and maintain your overall health, allowing you to deal better with your arthritis. However, there's no special diet that can be used to treat arthritis. It hasn't been proved that eating any particular food will make your joint pain or inflammation better or worse.

* Apply heat. Heat will help ease your pain, relax tense, painful muscles and increase the regional flow of blood. One of the easiest and most effective ways to apply heat is to take a hot shower or bath for 15 minutes. Other options include using a hot pack, an electric heat pad set on its lowest setting or a radiant heat lamp with a 250-watt reflector heat bulb to warm specific muscles and joints. If your skin has poor sensation or if you have poor circulation, don't use heat treatment.

* Apply cold for occasional flare-ups. Cold may dull the sensation of pain. Cold also has a numbing effect and decreases muscle spasms. Don't use cold treatments if you have poor circulation or numbness. Techniques may include using cold packs, soaking the affected joints in cold water and ice massage.

* Practice relaxation techniques. Hypnosis, guided imagery, deep breathing and muscle relaxation can all be used to control pain.

* Take your medications as recommended. By taking medications regularly instead of waiting for pain to build, you will lessen the overall intensity of your discomfort.

Coping skills

The degree to which rheumatoid arthritis affects your daily activities depends in part on how well you cope with the disease. Physical and occupational therapists can help you devise strategies to cope with specific limitations you may experience as the result of weakness or pain. Here are some general suggestions to help you cope:

* Keep a positive attitude. With your doctor, make a plan for managing your arthritis. This will help you feel in charge of your disease. Studies show that people who take control of their treatment and actively manage their arthritis experience less pain and make fewer visits to the doctor.

* Use assistive devices. A painful knee may need a brace for support. You might also want to use a cane to take some of the stress off the joint as you walk. Use the cane in the hand opposite the affected joint. If your hands are affected, various helpful tools and gadgets are available to help you maintain an active lifestyle. Contact your pharmacy or doctor for information on ordering items that may help you the most.

* Know your limits. Rest when you're tired. Arthritis can make you prone to fatigue and muscle weakness. A rest or short nap that doesn't interfere with nighttime sleep may help.

* Avoid grasping actions that strain your finger joints. Instead of using a clutch purse, for example, select one with a shoulder strap. Use hot water to loosen a jar lid and pressure from your palm to open it, or use a jar opener. Don't twist or use your joints forcefully.

* Spread the weight of an object over several joints. For instance, use both hands to lift a heavy pan.

* Take a break. Periodically relax and stretch.

* Maintain good posture. Poor posture causes uneven weight distribution and may strain ligaments and muscles. The easiest way to improve your posture is by walking. Some people find that swimming also helps improve their posture.

* Use your strongest muscles and favor large joints. Don't push open a heavy glass door. Lean into it. To pick up an object, bend your knees and squat while keeping your back straight.

The Care of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The Care of Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are different forms of arthritis – each painful and possibly debilitating. Often attributed to those of advanced age, arthritis can afflict anyone and can develop for a number of reasons, depending upon the type. Since this particular disease affects the joints, the agility and mobility of the patient can be significantly impacted as it progresses – sometimes to the extent of physical deformity.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of the immune system which often targets the hands of the patient. In addition to great pain and inflammation of the joints, those who suffer from this form of arthritis will often experience a deformity of the hands and fingers. The disease typically affects both hands simultaneously and can cause exquisite pain, swelling and loss of normal function, in addition to severe deformity.
In broad terms, arthritis refers to inflammation of the joints. Where rheumatoid arthritis is concerned, the actual linings of the joints is what becomes inflamed. This causes the cartilage in the joints to grow and swell, which over long term erodes the joints. This is what causes the very characteristic crippling deformities that occur in the fingers and hands of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
People diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis comprise only 1% of the population. (Vast numbers of people who suffer from other types of arthritis.) This disease affects women much more frequently than men. So far, there is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, the only recognized treatment at this point, is to manage the pain. Doctors prescribe various remedies which depend upon the patient's medical history, overall profile and other related factors.
Of the many types of pain control, oral medications are often used to control the swelling and pain that’s associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Other options include braces and splints – which gird weakened joints and remove excessive pressure from them – and surgery, in more critical cases. The latter option not only aids in reducing pain, but also provides greater mobility and improves the appearance of the hands. These surgeries may consist of a synovectomy, osteomoty or joint replacement.
When diagnosed early enough, there are many steps that can be used to reduce pain and the other consequences of this type of arthritis. So, even though there’s no known cure, if one experiences pain, swelling, or diminished use of the hands, one should contact a doctor immediately. A plan can be outlined to reduce pain, and prepare for future surgery.
No-one should have to live with pain of arthritis, now that so much progress has been made in the field of pain management. The first steps in managing the pain may be as simple as common aspirin or other medications. If they do not work, a doctor will then prescribe medication that specifically targets arthritis pain. But before that can happen,there has to be open communication between the doctor and the patient regarding the pain early in the treatment. So, it is not advisable to suffer quietly in this case.

Your Questions On Canine Hip Dysplasia – Answered.

Your Questions On Canine Hip Dysplasia – Answered.

What is canine hip dysplasia?

Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is one of the most frustrating diseases in veterinary medicine today simply because it is so difficult to prevent and treat. CHD is a developmental disease of the bones in which the head of the thigh bone poorly fits the hip socket, causing damage to the cartilage, gradual destruction of the joint, pain and swelling. This disease should not be confused with hip arthritis. Rather, it is the most common cause of arthritis in the hips.

How is canine hip dysplasia transmitted?

CHD is a heritable disease. It is passed on by the parents to the offspring. The only effective measure therefore to eradicate the disease is to prevent dogs with hip dysplasia from breeding. However, this is easier said than done, because not all dogs with hip dysplasia show signs of the disease. Seemingly normal dogs still carry the gene for CHD and are bred, causing the disease to stay within the genepool.

How does one know if a dog has hip dysplasia?

A dog with hip dysplasia generally has less energy and movement. It has difficulty rising from a sitting position, lameness in the back legs, is hopping like a rabbit when running, and is reluctant to go up the stairs. However, these symptoms are usually not evident till the dog reaches middle age. In extreme cases though, some dogs exhibit obvious hip problems as early as 5-6 months of age.

How does a vet confirm if a dog has hip dysplasia?

Sad to say, there is no blood test or genetic test yet that will detect if a dog is a carrier of CHD or not. Diagnosis of the disease is routinely done through physical examinations and x-rays. X-rays help in assessing how bad the condition is, and through comparison with future x-rays, it can also serve as a gauge of how well the chosen treatment is working. Two techniques for taking x-rays of CHD-afflicted dogs are listed below:

1.hip-extended ventrodorsal view x-ray – It provides a frontal view of the pelvis and hip-joints and best assesses the degree of severity of arthritis present.

2.PennHIP radiography technique – It is used to detect hip looseness in dogs as young as four months of age.

What are the treatment options for canine hip dysplasia?

There is no real cure for CHD just yet, but there are conservative or non-surgical ways to relieve its symptoms. These include the use of drugs to relieve pain and inflammation. Rimadyl, Ectogesic and Deramaxx are effective and have given a lot of suffering dogs the relief needed to live a normal life. Weight loss programs, controlled exercise and physical therapy are also very effective in certain cases.

When conservative treatment is not enough, the only other option is surgery. Surgery can be very effective as it corrects the underlying cause of hip pain which is a malformed joint. Surgery is approached in two different ways when dealing with hip dysplasia. Prophylactic surgery is done to prevent the progression af arthritis while therapeutic surgery aims to treat already arthritic hips.

Triple pelvic osteotomy is the primary preventive procedure available. It involves cutting the pelvis in three places and rotating the hip sockets to provide better coverage. This procedure is effective as long as it is done before arthritis sets in or before the joint is damaged. Another kind of preventive surgery, although still being studied if it is effective or not, is pubic symphysiodesis. This involves manipulating the way the pelvis grows to ensure a tighter hip. This procedure is done on very young dogs.

Therapeutic procedures include total hip replacement and femoral head ostectomy. Total hip replacement is performed mainly on larger dogs. High density, medical plastic is used to replace the socket and a high-quality, non-corrosive alloy is used for the ball. This procedure has a high success rate, almost completely eliminates pain and enables the dog to completely resume activity.

Another therapeutic procedure for hip dysplasia is femoral head ostectomy. It involves the removal of the top of the femur which then eliminates the painful grinding at the hip joint. The femur is then allowed to float freely causing the formation of scar tisue which then serves as a false joint. This procedure is not recommended for mild cases of arthritis and is generally effective only on smaller, well-muscled dogs.

Can canine hip dysplasia be prevented?

The best measure of prevention is of course careful breeding since hip dysplasia is a heritable condition. The onset of hip dysplasia can be delayed in many dogs with a genetic predisposition by preventing excessive weight gain during the early months and by making sure that the puppy does not place undue stress on the hips.

OFA and PennHip offers information on breed risk. Prospective puppy buyers are advised to check for pedigrees for OFA, PennHip or GDC certifications.

Arthritis Medication

Arthritis Medication

Arthritis is a painful condition of the joints that causes swelling and inflammation. It can occur at any time of a person’s life, no matter the gender. As of now, medical science has yet to find a cure to arthritis, but there are several treatment methods available to alleviate the symptoms, the most common of which is pain.

Below are some arthritis medications that have been approved for consumer use:

NSAIDs (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs)

NSAIDs are the most common arthritis medications, available in most drugstore shelves, supermarket, and even discount or convenient stores. As an over the counter drug, you do not need a physician’s prescription to start using this arthritis medication.

The main purpose of the drug is to reduce pain – from muscles aches and headaches to minor joint pains and fever, all of which are common symptoms of arthritis. In addition to pain reduction, NSAID can also help alleviate joint inflammation.

NSAIDs are available in three basic categories: traditional NSAIDs, COX-2 inhibitors, and salicylates.

Analgesics

Analgesics are like NSAIDs in that they can provide relief for pain. However, that is all that this arthritis medication can do. It cannot reduce inflammation or swelling of the joints. Nevertheless, analgesics are most helpful if, for some reason, the patient cannot take NSAIDs (like if he is allergic to it or suffers stomach problems if he takes that arthritis medication) to help relieve pain.

Biologic Response Modifiers

Most arthritis medications are symptom-specified. That is, they commonly target only the signs and symptoms of arthritis, such as joint pains and inflammation, not the disease itself. However, there is a class of arthritis medications that aim at halting disease progression. They are called biologic response modifiers or BRMs. This class of arthritis medication works in different ways, although all of them have something to do with a protein called cytokines. By inhibiting the production of cytokines, BRMs can effectively stop inflammation.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids, more commonly known as steroids, make up some of the oldest and most effective arthritis medication. It is also one of the fastest working. Joints, eyes, and internal organs that have been damaged due to arthritic inflammation can be spared with the application of steroids. Not only that, but there have been many cases where steroids saved lives.

However, this arthritis medication needs to be used properly and sparingly. Because while steroids have the potential to help arthritic patients, they also have the potential to do great harm by causing bones to become brittle, cataracts to occur, and blood sugar levels to elevate.

DMARDs (Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic Drugs

This is another arthritis medication that targets arthritis as a disease and not just its symptoms. In this aspect, DMARDs are similar to BRMs, which also aims to halt progression of the disease. One key difference is that DMARDs, while effective, work slow and produce gradual results. Some types of this drug, like hydroxychloroquine for instance, may take three or four months before you notice any results. This gives you all the more reason to start it early.

This type of arthritis medication is commonly used for rheumatoid arthritis, as what its name suggests. However, there have been cases where this DMARDs were also used to treat juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spndylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and lupus.