Study Reveals That Osteoarthritis Is More Common Today Than It Was in Ancient Times​

As more and more patients of osteoarthritis come in to seek treatment for pain relief, researchers have begun to notice a trend of sorts. Better medicines are allowing people to live longer lives, and with that age-related ailments have been statistically on the rise. This has driven the common belief that wear and tear resulting from stress on the knee joint due to increased weight, as well as the natural degradation of one’s body as it ages were the major reasons for the onset of arthritis in the knee. But a recent study has found that after adjusting for age and body mass, osteoarthritis is twice as more common today than it was 60 years ago. This does come as a fair shock to most people. After all, when we have access to more effective medicines and treatment for most diseases today than we did even a decade earlier, degenerative joint disease should logically be on the decline. The truth, however, is far from that. Daniel E. Lieberman and Ian J. Wallace, co-authors of the study, found that its history stretches farther than the just the mid-20th Century. Part of the crucial data had been collected through intense study of human skeletons housed in medical institutes and museums all across America, some even as old as 6000 years. The researchers worked with the presumption that the oldest of these skeletons would provide evidence of a higher prevalence of osteoarthritis, owing to the rigorous lifestyle involved in most prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies. But the results proved the opposite. Correcting for age and body mass, the data posited that osteoarthritis was less common in people from these ancient times. From the 1950’s onwards, human beings have developed a greater proclivity to be afflicted by degenerative joint disease. The “why” behind it all however is something the study unfortunately hasn’t located. But Lieberman offers his own guess: Americans began living more comfortably after the 50s, and therefore becoming significantly less physically active. Today, lack of exercise is nearly a chronic condition for the average American, and this may be affecting how our joints develop as we age. If cartilage doesn’t properly form when we’re younger, then we’re all the more likely to suffer from arthritis as we grow older. But exercise isn’t the only guess - more and more Americans are shifting toward high-calorie, , our muscles and bones aren’t receiving the necessary minerals that will keep us healthy in the long run. By being careless about what we eat, we’re setting ourselves up for a number of diseases and disabilities, including osteoarthritis. An exact cause however is yet still being sought out. This recent study however helps to point researchers and scientists in a new direction toward finding out what causes degenerative joint disease and how it can be remedied. In the meanwhile, it's best to seek out treatment for effective and long-lasting pain relief. At the US Knee Center, our team of specialists work tirelessly to ensure that you can walk ahead in life once again, absolutely pain free. Contact us today for a free consultation to book an appointment. ​

What’s New in Osteoarthritis Research​

You might have been told by your doctor that they just can’t “fix” your osteoarthritis. Current treatment methods are geared towards reducing the symptoms rather than the disease itself, which might be disheartening to some who just want to be cured of their ailment. But that doesn’t mean the future doesn’t hold hope. Scientists and researchers aren’t content with what we have right now and are tirelessly working to come up with easy and affordable remedies for degenerative joint disease, more commonly known as osteoarthritis. Although these very experts haven’t gotten to the testing stage yet, their work has yielded plentiful evidence that supports the possibility of not only stopping arthritis, but also reversing and preventing it. Halting ProgressionCurrently, only a handful of studies have identified the potential to stop the progression of the arthritis in patients already suffering from it, however the researchers involved are confident that they may have “hit gold”. One such study has discovered that osteoarthritic cartilage cells function differently than normal cartilage cells owing to certain enzymes. These enzymes are thus affecting the genes responsible for cartilage wear and progressive arthritis - the research involves identifying them and preventing arthritis in patients from worsening by removing or modifying the enzymes that affect those genes.A different team of researchers have also claimed to have discovered another entity that could possibly stunt arthritis progression. The study has located a natural genetic molecule called microRNA 140 that occurs in the body that is shown to counter the growth of arthritis through gene expression. And the fact that this molecule is found within the body, new treatments with significantly lower side effects and chances of rejection can be developed. Curing Degenerative Joint DiseaseAnother line of research has discovered that stem cells can, to a certain extent, regenerate damaged cartilage, resolving a prominent cause behind the acute joint pain felt by patients of osteoarthritis. The study aims at creating permanent and affordable solutions for the disease. While these new leaps and discoveries are being made, there is much about arthritis that still remains a mystery of medical science. Current research has yet to identify the cause or reason behind the onset of arthritis, as well as multiple other indicators of why our bodies tend to break down in older age. But given the studies that are being conducted and the possibilities they hold for the future, we’re only taking the last few steps towards the right answers. All we need is a little patience and to hold our trust in the people working towards an arthritis-free world. Where scientists are doing what they can to curb the disease, you can get excellent treatment for your symptoms at the US Knee Center. Our network of medical experts and trained physiotherapists are equipped with the right qualifications and tools to provide you with long-lasting pain relief. Contact us today and book an appointment.​

Treating Osteoarthritis Through Pool Therapy​

So you’ve been prescribed exercise as part of your osteoarthritis treatment, and you wonder if it will help or hurt ? After all, given how painful it is when you normally move around, you might think exercise is going to do more damage than good. But if your doctor has done a thorough check and decided that your condition requires physical activity, then you can rest assured that exercise will help reduce your joint pain and inflammation. And with pool therapy - also known as aqua and water therapy - exercise can turn out to be a helpful, fun and relaxing experience. Pool therapy involves the same exercises that you’d be typically required to do on land, but while partially submerged in comfortably warm water. When treating osteoarthritis, your physiotherapist will aid in in performing muscle-strengthening exercises in waist-deep water. Typically, the buoyancy of water counteracts gravity, thereby supporting your weight and removing any strain or stress on your affected joints. Moreover, the gentle resistance offered by water helps in keeping your balance when performing particularly tricky exercises. One additional benefit that pool therapy has over traditional land exercises is that the mild hydrostatic pressure of water aids in the function of your heart and lungs, hence improving blood flow especially to the muscles and tissue around the affected joint. However, because of water’s effect on blood circulation, pool therapy isn’t recommended for patients of osteoarthritis that are also suffering from fluctuating blood pressure and heart problems. Sadly, water therapy isn’t for everyone - patients with severe cartilage damage and chronic pain would likely be advised by their doctors to avoid any exercise at all, even when submerged in water. And if you’re down with a fever, or have an infection that will only exacerbate when in contact with moisture, pool therapy should be avoided at all costs. If you’ve ever done a quick google search on the various joint pain treatments, you’ve probably come across plenty of articles that claim exercise is incredibly beneficial for patients. They’re not wrong, but they’re not giving the whole picture either. It really depends on how far one’s osteoarthritis has progressed and whether or not it's at a stage that doctors would recommend physical activity for. Rigorous exercise, whether they are land-based or part of the pool therapy regimen, can likely worsen the situation rather than remedy it. So to say, it's never safe to try pool therapy on your own - only if your doctor gives you the green light and your physiotherapist is with you at all times when in the water. At the US Knee Center, our extensive team of specialists have the right training and qualifications to provide you with excellent medical care. Get the absolute best in treatment with us, and once again live a pain-free life. So contact us today for a free consultation, and book an appointment.

Is Acupuncture a Valid Treatment for Osteoarthritis?​

For some patients, treatment for osteoarthritis alternates between modern scientific practice, as is employed by all doctors and therapists at the US Knee Center, and traditional methods such as home remedies, massages and acupuncture. While home remedies and massages are acknowledged by the scientific community to have some effects on improving symptoms, acupuncture however holds a somewhat controversial position. But before we explore the debates surrounding acupuncture, it’s best to first understand it. Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which focuses on healing by re-establishing balance in one’s qi, or flow of energy. This might all seem confusing and it’s understandably so - the principles behind TCM has its roots spread across philosophy and spirituality. As qi is considered responsible for governing one’s health, disruption in the flow is what causes the body to deteriorate and experience illness. In acupuncture, fine sterilised steel needles are inserted into the skin at specific areas which stimulate one’s energy pathways (or meridians as they are called) to restore the flow of qi, and hence improve health. Given this explanation, it's no wonder why Western medicine doesn’t acknowledge acupuncture as a treatment for osteoarthritis as well as other ailments, among most forms of traditional medicine, as viable treatments. Where medical science is grounded in treating tangible, physiological aspects of the body, qi is too abstract a concept to be recognised by the field. But where there have been reports from patients confirming an improvement in joint soreness and stiffness after acupuncture, doctors and scientists have offered other alternative reasons for why it works for some. Insertion of the needles triggers physiological mechanisms - puncturing the right spot sends signals to the brain, which then prompts the release of endorphins that dull out one’s sensations of pain, aching and soreness. Moreover, it may induce certain pain-relieving hormones and chemicals in the body, leading to positive reports of improved health. But how far does this improvement go? Some studies have shown that acupuncture was only effective for patients of mild osteoarthritis, especially if the affected area was the spine or knee. And even then, the improvement was minimal in certain sets of cases as opposed to those who did not receive any treatment at all. As such, acupuncture had no effect on those suffering from chronic pain. Other studies have been highly critical where results confirmed no improvement in patients’ arthritic pain. The occasional confirmation has been linked to a placebo effect of sorts where the patients had been led to believe that the treatment worked. In general, these experiments discard acupuncture completely, relegating it to sham treatment. This begs the question: is acupuncture a valid treatment or not? Of course, there’s no consensus among the scientific community either proving or disproving healing through qi, but so far as it stands, acupuncture is recognised as a treatment for around 30 health problems including pain by the World Health Organisation. In the end, there’s very little harm in trying - after all, acupuncture has no side-effects unlike most medicines. However, one shouldn’t take it as an alternative to viable and highly effective medical treatment that poses long-lasting results. At the US Knee Center, your care is our priority. Our qualified unit of specialists are trained in providing unmatched medical treatment so that you can continue to enjoy life with family and friends. Contact us today for an appointment.​

OSTEOARTHRITIS WEATHER

How Does the Weather Affect Osteoarthritis Pain?​

Throughout the years, there have been numerous accounts from patients about their osteoarthritis pain and soreness getting worse as the weather turns cold and damp. Yet despite this age old phenomenon, doctors don’t have any real answer as to why this happens. There have been numerous studies, each with their own conclusions that have only further complicated the mystery behind the “link” between arthritis pain and changing weather. We looked into this modern medical debate, and here are our findings: The evidencePatients with osteoarthritis pain notice a stark increase in their pain right before a storm and find relief when it's sunny again. Moreover, summers are relatively less painful than winters, leading many people to believe that temperature is the key player in increasing or alleviating arthritic pain. However, both hot and cold compresses are known home remedies that provide short-term relief, making cold weather an unlikely factor in increased arthritic pain. A more plausible explanation would be a combination of different weather effects, as was proposed in a 2015 study[1]. Patients experienced greater joint pain in lower temperatures in combination with high levels of humidity and/or precipitation. Further still, some experts offer that low barometric pressure before a storm can cause tissue, tendons and muscles around the affected joint to contract, thereby causing stiffness and soreness[2]. Does correlation mean causation?Part of the argument against the weather having an influence on joint pain is that correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. Humans have a habit of seeing patterns where there tend to be none and establishing links and relationships based on those “patterns”. Like how getting 5 tails in a row when you flip a coin doesn’t guarantee that the next one will also be a tails, scientists propose that increasing soreness during cold and damp weather is a random occurrence. Why patients complain of greater pain when the winds change, however, may be a matter of perception rather than a physical occurrence. People tend to be in better moods when it's sunny outside, making them less aware of their arthritic pain. On the other hand, when the sky starts to get dreary so does one’s mood. The more dramatic and miserable the weather, the more people become aware of their pain and it is in that moment of increased perception that joint pain seems like it has increased. Towards a theoryHowever, in certain cases correlation and causation become inherently linked where evidence exists. When it comes to weather, it's a difficult task to either prove or disprove the effects of the weather on increased pain in the joints. Doctors, scientists and medical experts continue to look into this curious phenomenon and find evidence for or against the supposed link between weather and osteoarthritis - until then, it's a mystery in medical books. At the US Knee Center we can provide you pain relief for even the stormiest of days. Our team of qualified doctors and physiotherapists work to provide patients with effective quality care with visible results. Contact us today for a pain-free tomorrow. 1. pubmed/263293412. articles/PMC3996041/ ​

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