Entries in Joints (2)


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


Cutting Edge: Joint Injections Heal Baby Boomer Arthritis

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When doctors told Aviva Gianetti of River Vale, N.J., that she would need surgery in both arms to heal her tennis elbow, she wanted to find a way out of it.

Gianetti, in her late 50s, goes to the gym several times a week and won't pass up the chance to play golf. But the soreness and pain running down both of her arms has left her unable to partake in her favorite game.

Still, Gianetti was adamant against having surgery, so her specialist took an experimental approach: He gave her a shot of her own platelet rich plasma in both elbows. For Gianetti, two rounds of injections were all it took to get her back on the golf course at full swing.

The procedure, formally called platelet rich plasma, or PRP, injections, uses natural nutrients from the patient's own blood to heal the joints. Blood cells are separated from the liquid part of the blood, and then the clotted blood cells -- or plasma -- are inserted into the damaged joint. Previous animal and human studies suggest that plasma can help repair damaged cartilage and joints.

Athletes like basketball star Kobe Bryant and Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte have undergone PRP injections. But this method to alleviate joint pain has grown in demand among baby boomers.

The baby boomer generation has become the most active of any other in that age group, which has led the boomers to become the fastest-growing group to undergo joint replacements. Knee replacement surgeries have doubled over the past decade, and more than tripled in women between the ages of 45 and 64.

But PRP injections have offered many boomers a chance to extend their active years without pain.

But many experts say PRP injections are no proven substitute for surgery. There is only limited scientific data to suggest that it really works to treat as many joint problems as it is currently used for. Some claims suggest plasma injections can stop arthritis progression, and even create new cartilage.

"This is certainly, potentially one treatment option that may be utilized, but it's not the magic bullet," said Dr. Laith Jazrawi, chief of sports medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. "To offer these things to patients and potentially tell them that we may have the treatment that may prevent you from getting a knee replacement is really silly."

PRP injections are more often given to treat chronic arthritis. Jazrawi, who offers PRP injections in his office, says PRP should not be the first-line treatment recommended for baby boomer patients. Instead, he advises them to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle and diet.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio