Entries in Joint Pain (4)


Ankle, Wrist Weights May Add Pain

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- People will go a long way to lose a few pounds, so it should come as little surprise that something as seemingly normal as strapping weights around your wrist and ankles during your daily jog, run or walk, is popular among millions of Americans.

But some fitness experts say that using them might do you more harm than good.

Ankle weights and wrist weights come in the form of bands or pouches that have weights, sand or water inside.  When strapped to your ankles or wrists, they add between three and 20 pounds of resistance to any lower and upper body movement.  This extra resistance helps you burn more calories -- but that advantage may come at a cost.

"Use of added weight to the limbs will definitely change the way someone walks, runs, and moves," says Matt Briggs, a physical therapist at Ohio State University.  "There is some biomechanical and computer modeling evidence demonstrating this.  In certain populations it may be bad.  It will definitely require more muscle activation compared to without the use of dumbbells or ankle weights."

In many cases, athletes can sense this difference, but they may think that injuries resulting from these weights can never happen to them.  That's what Atlanta native Matt Mosunjac thought when he used ankle weights while in training for high school sports several years ago.  Mosunjac, an all-around athlete, used the weights for basketball and track.

"Ankle weights felt great the first time I used them, and I didn't notice too many effects at the time," he said.  But as time went on -- and the more he used the ankle weights -- he started to feel pain on his shins and hip.

"My doctor said I had shin splints and hip problems due to possibly overexerting myself with the ankle weights," Mosunjac says.  "It was like having a tug-of-war on my ligaments, as if they were being pulled apart."

Not all people who use the weights experience the same problems that Mosunjac did.  However, research has suggested that even absent injury, ankle and hand weights might not be all they are cracked up to be when it comes to fitness.

In March of 2002, the Division of HPR-Exercise Science at Wayne State University conducted a study that dealt with the effects of these weights on muscular fitness, body composition profile, and even their psychological effect.  What the researchers found was that those who used the weights didn't get much benefit from them in terms of muscular fitness.

As for energy expended, health experts say wrist weights may increase the amount of calories burned during an aerobic exercise.  However, they also caution that these weights increase the workload on your joints.  The heavier the weights on your wrists, the more burden on your wrists, elbows and shoulders.  This may, in turn, increase the likelihood of injuries like sprains, dislocations and ligament tears.  Frequent users may also risk tendinitis, as this, too, is a condition that occurs as a result of frequent strain on your joints.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Alternative Therapies Offer Arthritis Pain Relief

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An estimated 50 million Americans are living with arthritis, and while the pain, stiffness and joint deformities that often go along with it can be debilitating, medical experts say there are treatments that can bring relief to help sufferers live full and productive lives.

There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation.  The most common types are osteoarthritis, caused by "wear and tear" on joints, and rheumatoid arthritis, caused when the body attacks its own tissues, leading to inflammation of the joints.

Along with commonly prescribed painkillers, surgeries and other medical interventions, there are also a number of complementary approaches specialists use that they say can decrease inflammation, reduce pain and promote overall health.

ABC News asked doctors who practice integrative medicine, a field focused on blending conventional medicine with complementary treatments, to weigh in on what options they recommend for arthritis.

Dietary Ingredients

"Certain anti-inflammatory ingredients can be incorporated into the diet, such as tumeric and ginger," said Dr. Ashwin Mehta, medical director of integrative medicine at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.  "Ginger and tumeric are powerful anti-inflammatory ingredients we can recommend pretty much to anybody.  They are very safe and have no potential medication interactions or complications."

There have been few clinical trials looking at the effectiveness of ginger and tumeric on inflammation, but there are some laboratory data that suggest both can be helpful.

Other food additives are considered to have anti-inflammatory properties, such as garlic, cinnamon and soy.

Cutting back on refined sugars can also reduce inflammation, Mehta added.  That dietary tip will help with all types of arthritis.


Although some people may believe having arthritis means doing exercise will cause further damage to the joints and others may find it too painful to be active, doctors stress that staying active is key to managing the symptoms of arthritis.

"Physical activity and exercise are very important, especially something like yoga that would target the joints," said Mehta. "Yoga is a type of exercise that focuses on the nuts and bolts that hold everything else together, like the tendons and ligaments, and it's designed for preventive joint health."

Exercise can also help people lose weight, which is very effective at reducing joint inflammation, said Dr. Lawrence Taw, clinical professor at UCLA's Center for East-West Medicine.


"For every person with arthritis, we recommend one nutritional or dietary change, one physical activity goal or exercise treatment and a mindfulness program of some kind," Mehta said.

Mehta explained that a benefit of mindfulness programs is that they teach people how to relax, which can be especially helpful for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Acupuncture and Temperature Remedies

"Acupuncture has been found to be effective for osteoarthritis of the knee and hip as well as for rheumatoid arthritis, and a small study found it helps arthritis in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus," Taw said.

On its website, the American College of Rheumatology explains that studies have found acupuncture to be effective at relieving pain related to osteoarthritis, and it may be that the needle contact with the skin is what causes the decreased pain.  But they go on to say that acupuncture is safe in combination with conventional treatments.

And since symptoms of different types of arthritis may be triggered by the temperature or the weather, experts may recommend heat or cold therapy.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rheumatoid Arthritis Takes Toll on Young Adults

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A surprising number of the 1.3 million Americans suffering with rheumatoid arthritis are young adults from 18 to 40.

These are prime years for building careers and having children, when they can hardly afford to have plans disrupted.

"The best estimate of risk is 1 in 400 to 1 in 500 women in their 20s and probably closer to 1 in 1,000 or less in men [in their 20s]," said Dr. John M. Davis III, a consulting rheumatologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  "The peak age of onset is in the mid-50s."

The higher incidence among women reflects the likely influence of hormones on the interplay of genetics and environmental factors thought to underlie the disease.

Young adult patients easily slip between the cracks because, frequently, they don't look sick, even as the disorder inflames and then chews up the lining of their joints and silently ravages their eyes, damages their hearts, and scars their lungs.

Sometimes, youthful invincibility and denial also delay diagnoses for relatively young victims.

Dr. Eric M. Ruderman -- a rheumatologist and associate professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago -- and his colleagues recommend early use of biologic drugs to stave off the joint damage that compromises quality of life and leads to disability.  

The biggest side effect of the medications is infection, with a rare but potentially troubling side effect of lymphoma. Ruderman, who has been a paid consultant to manufacturers of several of these drugs, said RA itself is associated with double or triple the risk of lymphoma and that, so far, the risk of side effects doesn't seem to increase with duration of biologic drug treatment.

Unlike older patients, those diagnosed as young adults might be on the medications for many decades, assuming they have insurance that covers what can run to tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Joe Montana Suffers Joint Pain After All-Star NFL Career

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- At the peak of his career, Joe Montana was one of football's biggest names, with four Super Bowl rings to his name. But now in his retirement, "Joe Cool" is the face of a nutritional supplement that he says helps his aching joints -- the price he has paid for 20 years of tackles.

"The joint pain started at some point a little bit into my career," said Montana. "When you have 300-pound fellows falling on you for that many years, you start to feel it."

Chronic joint pain plagues many of the NFL's finest, and many players say it just comes with the territory.

"For me, it was a stiffness that wouldn't go away," said Montana. "One knee was worse than the other, and then there was the swelling that goes along with it. The more you can keep your joints lubricated, the less you'll feel that."

Pain and stiffness are caused by injury to the articular cartilage, or the smooth white covering over the bones at the joints. Small injuries can become larger over time, and eventually the underlying bone is exposed. Even if the injuries have time to heal fully, different scar tissues can cause different kinds of stiffness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 million Americans have some form of chronic joint pain or arthritis. Along with the pain can come a variety of other symptoms, as well.

"We conducted a study a few years ago that identified a substantial minority of retired NFL players who suffered high levels of chronic disease, including osteoarthritis and joint pain," said Dr. Thomas Schwenk, professor of family medicine at University of Michigan. "The pain was associated with significant levels of depression and low levels of daily function, causing significant distress and misery."

"Once their careers are over, a lot of the residual damage causes high level of arthritis and pain, and leads to depression, loss of physical activity and physical self-esteem," said Schwenk. "They often gain weight, especially the lineman, leading to diabetes, hypertension and heart disease."

With so many people playing through injury, a bias has been created for players to get in the game, even when injured, in order to keep their careers going, said Schwenk.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio