Posts Tagged ‘arthritis’

Takeaways from the Hand, Wrist & Elbow Live Chat

hand-wrist-elbow-emailThanks to everyone who joined us Tuesday, April 26, for our live online chat on “Hand, Wrist & Elbow Pain and Treatment” hosted by Emory orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Michael Gottschalk.

We had an awesome turnout for the chat, and we were able to answer a lot of really great questions that were submitted prior to and during the chat. Below you can find some of the highlights. You can view the full chat transcript here.

Question:I have carpal tunnel and arthritis in my hands and my wrist is very painful I can’t use my hands. What can I do for this?

Dr. Gottschalk: Currently there are several suggestions and recommendations for carpal tunnel syndrome. I always like to first make sure that this is indeed what you have. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a pinching of the median nerve at the wrist. It can cause pain, numbness and tingling to the hand and especially the thumb, index, middle, and half of the ring finger. If your carpal tunnel is severe or has been going on for a long time it can also cause weakness or wasting of the muscles to the thumb. Often times we might order an electrical test to confirm you have carpal tunnel syndrome or perform certain physical maneuvers to confirm this in the office. Once we have confirmed you have carpal tunnel syndrome I will normally make the following suggestions.

1) Wear a wrist brace at night that keeps the wrist straight (the brace does not need to be tight)

2) Try anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen or Aleve, make sure to check with your primary care doctor first as these medications can have side effects and cause kidney/stomach issues

3) Injections: I normally reserve injections for patients I am either confirming the diagnosis or for a patient that has a temporary reason for carpal tunnel (e.g. pregnant women)

4) Surgery: This is normally a last resort and I often recommend this for patients who have failed 1 and 2.

 

Question: My wrist hurts when I bend it backwards (as if I were telling someone to stop) and if it bears any weight (like shifting my weight in a chair). If I make a fist and keep my wrist straight it doesn’t hurt at all to bear weight on it. There’s also a slightly tender knot on the ulna side of my wrist). This has been happening for approximately 3 weeks. Any thoughts?

Dr. Gottschalk: This can be a common problem. Hyperextension or bending the wrist backwards (e.g. like for pushups) can cause significant stress on the wrist joint. There are several possibilities as to why this may be painful. One possibility is a wrist sprain where the ligaments are injured but not torn. Other possibilities include inflammation within the wrist joint (synovitis), ligament tears (more severe than a sprain), and possibly even a broken bone.

If these symptoms do not subside I would recommend seeing a physician for x-rays. It is possible that they may recommend NSAIDs, bracing, or an injection. I would also recommend cessation of activities that make it worse at least until it improves.

 

Question: Tell me a bit about golfers elbow.

Dr. Gottschalk: Golfer’s and Tennis elbow are very similarly related. They’re often repetitive overuse injuries. They normally occur where the tendon attaches to the bone near the elbow. Treatments often start with stretching exercises, inflammatory medication and sometimes bracing. If these are ineffective, I would normally recommend injection or other advanced therapies. Surgery would be the last resort option.


If you missed out on this live chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the chat transcript. You can also visit Emory Sports Medicine Center for more information.

Also, if you have additional questions for Dr. Gottschalk, please feel free to leave a comment in our comments area below.

About Dr. Gottschalk

gottschalk-michaelDr. Gottschalk grew up in Dallas, Texas as the youngest of three boys. He went on to graduate from JJ Pierce High School in the top 10% of his class and as an AP Scholar with Distinction. Dr. Gottschalk received an academic scholarship to attend the Business Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating from UT Austin, he then went to complete medical school at the University of Texas Health Science at San Antonio. Upon completion of medical school, Dr. Gottschalk completed his Orthopaedic Surgery Internship and Residency at Emory University. While in his training, Dr. Gottschalk received multiple accolades and awards for his outstanding research and was elected as a resident leader to the esteemed American Orthopaedic Association.

When In Doubt, Avoid These Foods To Ease The Pain Of Gout

Gout: Dictionary Close-up. Selective focus and Canon EOS 5D Mark II with MP-E 65mm macro lens. Gout is a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint. gout, podagra, inflammation, arthritis, joint,

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 adults in the United States have been diagnosed by a doctor with arthritis. That’s about 52.5 million people who experience joint stiffness, swelling and pain that can make even the most routine activities difficult.

Arthritis is the commonly known condition associated with inflammation of the joints, but there are more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that fall under the umbrella of arthritis. These conditions affect the joints, the tissues surrounding the joint and other connective tissue.

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis triggered by the crystallization of uric acid within the joints, and is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis in men. Gout can be chronic and last for months, or come on suddenly in the form of a flare-up and last for days.

There are a few non-modifiable risk factors for gout such as sex, age, race and genetics, but other factors, such as lifestyle and diet, can be controlled. If you are prone to gout, your diet and the foods you eat, or do not eat, play a key role in keeping your joints pain-free. Below is a list of foods to avoid if you are trying to prevent gout, or heal from a flare-up.

Purine rich foods including meat, seafood and some vegetables increase the risk of developing gout. Purines are natural substances found in all of the body’s cells, and in almost all foods. As our cells die and recycle themselves, the purines break down into uric acid. When too much uric acid accumulates, uric acid crystals develop and deposit in our tendons, joints, kidneys, and other organs, causing gout.

  • High-purine meats: white meat like chicken or duck is generally better than red mean. Choose beef or pork rather than lamb or turkey
  • High-purine seafood: scallops, herring, tuna, and anchovies
  • High-purine vegetables: asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, and mushrooms

Most of us are familiar with omega-3 fatty acids, which contain anti-inflammatory properties that help in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. But omega-6 fatty acids are more commonly found in the foods we eat. While a sufficient amount of omega 6 fatty acid is good, large amounts can be harmful and lead to inflammation. Some foods with omega-6 fatty acids to avoid include safflower, corn, soybean and sunflower seeds.

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is not only one way to pack on extra pounds, but a comparison study done between alcoholic and nonalcoholic beer found that the uric acid levels in the blood increased with beer consumption. Not only does beer increase uric-acid level, but beer also makes it more difficult for your body to clear it from your system.

Similar to beer, sugary drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup can increase the amount of uric acid and lactic levels and decreases uric acid elimination. Fructose is also linked to increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, and releases cytokines, which trigger inflammation.

After reading this list, you may be asking yourself, “What can I eat to prevent and control inflammation?” A good rule of principle is moderation.

Some items to consider incorporating into your diet to curb inflammation are non-fat dairy products, which have been shown to lower urate from an anti-inflammatory standpoint. Due to its diuretic features, coffee can also decrease uric acid levels in the body. To prevent dehydration and lower the concentration of uric acid crystals, drink at least six to eight 8-ounce servings of water a day.

About Dr. Olufade

olufade-oluseunOluseun Olufade, MD, is board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Sports Medicine and Interventional Pain Medicine. He completed fellowship training in both Sports Medicine and Interventional Pain Medicine. During his fellowship training, he was a team physician for Philadelphia Union, a major league soccer (MLS) team, Widener University Football team and Interboro High School Football team. He joined the nationally-ranked Emory Orthopaedic & Spine Center in 2013.

Dr. Olufade employs a comprehensive approach in the treatment of sports-related injuries and spinal disorders by integrating physical therapy, orthotic prescription and minimally invasive procedures. He specializes also in soccer medicine, concussion, tendinopathies, platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections and chronic exertional compartment syndrome. He performs procedures such as fluoroscopic-guided spine injections and ultrasound guided peripheral joint injections. Dr. Olufade individualizes his treatment plans with a focus on functional restoration. He sees patient primarily in our Dunwoody and Johns Creek locations.

When is Spine Surgery Necessary?

spine-surgery-chatIf you have experienced ongoing back or neck pain, you may have asked yourself at one point, “do I need surgery?”

Low back and neck pain are common conditions that can range from dull, constant aches to sudden, sharp pains that make it difficult to move. There are many causes of spine pain, including injury, ruptured discs and the normal wear and tear that comes with aging. Some diseases and spine conditions may also cause pain, such as:
– Arthritis
– Scoliosis
– Spinal stenosis
– Spondylolisthesis
– Spondylosis

Seek an evaluation from a spine specialist if your pain is severe or persistent. The good news is that less than 10% of patients who experience back or neck problems are candidates for surgery. Many spine conditions can be treated non-operatively, but if you’ve been told you need spine surgery, it’s important to have the proper information before making a decision.

On Tuesday, August 25, 2015, at noon EST, join Scott Boden, MD, director of the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center, for an interactive web chat to discuss when you should — and shouldn’t — elect to undergo spine surgery. Sign up for the chat >>

Sign Up for the Chat

Related Resources
When Should You Consider Spine Surgery?
Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center
Should You See a Spine Specialist? Take our quiz and find out>>

About Scott Boden, MD

boden-scottScott D. Boden, MD, is Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Director of the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. Dr. Boden started practicing at Emory in 1992. During his fellowship at Case Western Reserve Hospital in Cleveland, Dr. Boden trained with one of the founding fathers of modern spine surgery, Dr. Henry Bohlman. A primary original researcher on bone growth factor development and spine fusion technology, Dr. Boden is also an internationally renowned lecturer and teacher and the driving force behind the Emory University Orthopedics & Spine Hospital (EUOSH).

 

Dr. Boden’s Clinical Interests:
Dr. Boden’s areas of clinical interest include surgical and nonsurgical management of adult degenerative spinal disorders including herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis in the cervical and lumbar spine. He was recently named in another Becker’s list of Top 50 Spine Surgeons in the U.S. and is a skilled surgeon with techniques of microdiscectomy, laminectomy, spinal fusion, and laminoplasty.

The Road to Emory: Education
• Medical School: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 1986
• Internship: George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, D.C. 1987
• Residency: George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, D.C. 1991
• Fellowship: Case Western Reserve University Hospital, Cleveland, OH 1992

Personal:
Dr. Boden is the proud father of triplets who graduated first and tied for second in their high school class. He is also a baseball aficionado and coaches high school and travel softball teams.

How Aging Affects Your Cervical Spine – Part II: Arthritis of the Neck

NeckArthritis_ 7-7Cervical spondylosis refers to the degenerative process of the vertebral disks in the neck (arthritis). Like the rest of the body, the bones in the neck slowly degenerate as we age, which frequently results in arthritis. Most of the time, this condition causes mild to moderate neck pain and stiffness.

Causes:

Neck pain is extremely common, with more than 85% of people over age 60 being affected. It’s typically caused by chronic wear on the cervical spine as a result of aging. Facet joints in the neck become enlarged, causing the ligaments around the spinal canal to thicken and bone spurs to form. Over time, these changes can press down on (compress) one or more of the nerve roots. In advanced cases, the spinal cord becomes involved.

Aside from aging, the other factors that can make a person more likely to develop spondylosis are:

  • Being overweight
  • Past neck or spine injury
  • Ruptured or slipped disk
  • Genetics – if your family has a history of neck pain

Symptoms:

Many people have spondylosis of the neck and do not know it. This is because most of the time, there are no symptoms, or the symptoms are mild. When symptoms do develop, they are typically neck pain, stiffness, headaches (especially in the back of the head), and sometimes shoulder pain. In rare cases, the pain may spread to the upper arm, forearm, or fingers.

Treatments:

Non-surgical

Treatment for cervical spondylosis depends on the severity of your signs and symptoms. Most patients who do not have neurological compression associated with spondylosis do not need surgery. Interventional treatments for cervical spondylosis may include:

  • Physical therapy – Strengthening and stretching weakened or strained muscles to relieve the pressure on the nerve root is usually the first treatment that is advised.
  • Medications – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce swelling and pain and analgesics to relieve pain.
  • Steroid-based injectionsMany patients find short-term relief from steroid injections to help reduce swelling and treat acute pain that radiates to the hips or down the leg.

Surgical

For cervical spondylosis causing symptomatic compression of nerve roots or the spinal cord, surgery may be indicated to relieve pain and improve or preserve neurological function. For spondylosis without nerve root or spinal cord compression, surgery is typically avoided. In some unusual conditions, cervical spinal fusion can be performed.

Have you been told you need neck surgery? Over 90% of neck and back problems can be treated without surgery, but if surgery has been recommended, you may want to seek a second surgical opinion.

At the Emory Orthopaedic & Spine Center, our internationally-recognized spine surgeons research, pioneer and refine the most effective approaches to treating a variety of spine conditions.

To see if you may be a candidate for spine surgery, take our five minute spine quiz

About Dr. Rhee

John M. Rhee, MD, is a Spinal Surgeon and Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery specializing in cervical spine surgery, lumbar spine surgery, complex spinal deformity surgery (scoliosis and kyphosis) and surgery for spinal tumors. Dr. Rhee is an active researcher and sought-after teacher/lecturer at the national and international level in multiple medical societies. He has served as faculty and been an invited lecturer at numerous meetings and courses on spine surgery. In addition, he has served as Program Chairman at numerous national and international spine surgery meetings. Dr. Rhee has also published extensively in a number of peer reviewed journals and books, and he has received numerous awards and honors. He is actively involved the training of international research scholars and other spinal surgeons and has been the author and editor of major textbooks on spine surgery techniques.

Understanding Osteoarthritis

OsteoarthritisWhile “arthritis” is a commonly known disease, it is generally misunderstood. In fact, arthritis is not a single disease, rather a way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions. Osteoarthritis (OA), which is also known as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), is one of the most common forms of arthritis, affecting nearly 27 million Americans according to the Arthritis Foundation.

Unlike other forms of inflammatory arthritis, OA is most common in older adults. It occurs when cartilage, the smooth, rubbery material that cushions each bone becomes thinned, damaged or worn away. The “wearing down” of cartilage leads to pain, swelling and joint stiffness, and as the disease continues to worsen over time, bone rubbing against bone can lead to joint damage and more intense pain.

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but mostly affects the knees, hips, hands and spine joints. While the cause of osteoarthritis is unknown and there is no cure, there are ways to relieve symptoms and improve joint function for those suffering from the disease:

  • Exercise! Just 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week (150 minutes in total) can help significantly reduce joint pain and improve joint mobility in as little as four to six weeks. If you cannot fit in a whole 30 minutes, try breaking your exercise into three, 10-minute increments throughout the day. Any physical activity is better than none!
  • Be SMART when it comes to physical activity:
    • Start low and go slow. Begin with three to five minutes of physical activity twice a day and add activity in small amounts to allow your body to adjust.
    • Modify activity if arthritis symptoms increase, but try to stay active.
    • Activities should be low impact, such as walking, bicycling, water aerobics or dancing.
    • Recognize safe and effective ways to be active. Consider exercise classes designed for people with arthritis. When planning your own activity, make sure to choose safe locations with sidewalks/pathways that are level (e.g., a neighborhood or park).
    • Talk with your healthcare provider to help monitor chronic osteoarthritis symptoms.
  • Watch your weight. If you are overweight, losing one pound can take four pounds of pressure off your knee joints! A weight loss of five percent helps reduce joint pain. Maintaining a healthy weight and physical activity are also beneficial with other chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, which often affect those with OA.
  • Eat right. While there is no specific diet for people with arthritis, studies have identified certain foods that can help control inflammation, strengthen bones and boost the immune system. Incorporating foods often found in the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fish, vegetables, fruit and olive oil, have been found to promote good joint health.

Can osteoarthritis be prevented? Learn more about risk factors for osteoarthritis >>

Find the right physician

If you are experiencing severe pain, swelling or stiffness in your joints, it may be time to see one of the physicians at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center for further evaluation and treatment.

Related Resources

About Dr. Mason

Amadeus Mason, MDAmadeus Mason, MD, is an assistant professor in the Orthopaedics and Family Medicine departments at Emory University.

He is board certified in Sports Medicine with a special interest in track and field, running injuries and exercise testing. He has been trained in diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasound, orthopedic stem cell therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy. Dr. Mason is Team Physician for USA Track & Field, Tucker High School, and Georgia Tech Track and Field.

Dr. Mason is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the America Road Racing Medical Society, and the USA Track and Field Sports Medicine and Science Committee. He has been invited to be a resident physician at the US Olympic Training Center, a Sports Medicine consultant in his homeland of Jamaica and the Chief Medical Officer at multiple USA Track and Field international competitions. He is an annual speaker at the pre-race expo for PTRR, Publix marathon and Atlanta marathon commenting on a wide variety of topics related to athletics and running injuries.

Dr. Mason is an active member of the Atlanta running community. He attended Princeton University and was captain of the track team. His other sports interests include soccer, college basketball and football, and the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). A Decatur resident, he is married with three children.

Did you know that July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month?

We are all painfully aware that arthritis affects many older adults, but did you know that kids can develop juvenile arthritis?

Approximately 294,000 children age 16 or younger are affected by pediatric arthritis and rheumatologic conditions.
In adults, arthritis typically affects the joints. While juvenile arthritis can cause bone and joint growth problems, it also can affect the eyes, skin, and gastrointestinal tract.

The most common symptoms of juvenile arthritis are joint swelling, pain, and stiffness that won’t go away, particularly in the knees, hands, and feet. Symptoms are generally worse in the morning and after naps. Other signs of juvenile arthritis include:

•    Limping due to a stiff knee

•    Excessive clumsiness

•    High fever and skin rash

•    Swelling in the lymph nodes

The most common type of juvenile arthritis is juvenile idiopathic arthritis. (Idiopathic means “from unknown causes.”) You may have heard this referred to as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. This type of arthritis is diagnosed when a child has swelling in one or more joints for at least six weeks.

There are several different types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. The type is usually determined by the number of joints affected as well as by the results of a rheumatoid factor blood test. While children may have a genetic predisposition that makes them more likely to develop the disease, at this point, researchers have not determined a direct cause, and there’s no evidence that toxins, foods, or allergies can cause it. Most children with juvenile arthritis experience remission, when the symptoms get better or go away, and times when symptoms flare, or get worse.

If your child has juvenile arthritis symptoms, the first thing to do is get an accurate diagnosis. Your child’s pediatrician can run tests that will rule out other potential causes, but if the signs point to juvenile arthritis, he or she may suggest you make an appointment with a pediatric rheumatologist.

There is no cure for juvenile arthritis; however, a number of treatments can improve your child’s quality of life, including:

•    Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and analgesics to help relieve inflammation and control pain

•    Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and a biologic response modifiers (biologics), which can alter the course of the disease, put it into remission, and prevent joint damage

•    Splints to help keep joints in the correct position and to relieve pain and orthopedics or shoe inserts to compensate for any difference in leg length or to improve balance

•    Physical therapy to help restore motion and flexibility in joints that have become stiff and occupational therapy to help children learn how to do basic activities without aggravating their arthritis

And, of course, it’s super important for kids with juvenile arthritis to eat healthy foods and get regular moderate exercise, to keep joints strong and flexible.

Does your child have juvenile arthritis? How does your family cope? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

At-Home Workouts Ease Osteoarthritis Pain

Osteoarthritis at home workoutsIf you have osteoarthritis, you already know that exercise can help reduce pain and improve mobility. But did you know that working out at home with a DVD may bring even more relief?

According to a study presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), 107 people with osteoarthritis in the knee were randomized to either a DVD-based exercise group or a control group. The DVD group received a DVD-based exercise program along with verbal and hands-on exercise instructions for the first four to eight weeks. Participants in the DVD group reportedly exercised 5.3, 5.0, and 3.8 times per week at three-, six-, and 12-month intervals and had significantly greater improvement in pain and physical function than those in the control group.

While exercise did not make a significant difference in the progression of osteoarthritis, the reduction of pain and mobility among the DVD group speaks to the benefits of adding a video-based home exercise program to an existing exercise regimen.

When you exercise regularly, you strengthen the muscles around the arthritic joint, which helps decrease the pain of osteoarthritis and improve function. We suggest you do whatever keeps you on track to exercise regularly, whether it’s a video-based exercise program or exercising with a friend. But first, we recommend that you have an exercise program designed specifically for you by a physical therapist who understands osteoarthritis, to avoid injuries from overdoing it or doing the wrong exercises. The physical therapists here at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center have the experience and the expertise to develop an exercise plan that meets your unique needs and helps bring relief from osteoarthritis pain.

Do you have osteoarthritis? Has a regular home-based exercise program helped ease your pain? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

Related Resources:

Can Soda Consumption Affect Your Bone Health?

Cola bone healthOur team gets lots of questions about bone health, ranging from questions like “does  soda decrease my bone strength?”  To “how much calcium and Vitamin D are needed to maintain bone health?” In honor of National Nutrition Month, last week, we shared with you details on the roles of Calcium and Vitamin D in your bone health, and foods you can consume to make sure you get enough of each. This week, we want to share some interesting findings from new research being conducted around soda, and its effect on your bone strength.

There are many activities and behaviors that can serve to either improve or worsen bone health, but many recent studies have been conducted to determine if there is a link between soda consumption and decreased bone health. Check out some interesting take- aways from just a few of those studies below:

  • According to findings from a study at Harvard, 9th and 10th grade girls who consume sodas are at three times the risk for bone fractures compared to those who don’t.
  • Research out of Tufts University shows that “women–but not men–who drank more than three 12-ounce servings of cola per day had 2.3 percent to 5.1 percent lower bone-mineral density in the hip than women who consumed less than one serving of cola per day.”1
  • In a 2010 study from the Journal of American Dietetic Association, 170 girls were  followed from age 5 to 15. Of those, the participants who drank soda at age 5 were less likely to drink milk throughout childhood than those who didn’t consume soda at age 5. Those who drank soda from the age of 5 were also  more likely to consume diets lacking in calcium, fiber, vitamin D, protein, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
  • In a 2001 study out of Creighton University Osteoporosis Research Center , researchers followed 32 people for a month and had them drink various  formulations of soda with differing levels of caffeine, phosphorus or citric acid so the research team could take urine samples and determine how much calcium the subjects were excreting. Those who drank caffeine-rich sodas excreted calcium; the others did not.

While all of the research conducted so far indicates that there is more to be done to directly tie cola consumption to decreased bone health, it is clearly a hot topic  for future medical investigation. We will follow up on our blog as more details emerge.


1http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2003-10-26/features/0310260520_1_acid-in-cola-drinks-bone-mineral-density-carbonated

Why Are Women Over 50 More Likely to Suffer From Knee Pain?

Knee Pain in womenIf you have knee pain, you know how debilitating it can be. And if you’re a woman, you have an even greater chance of developing knee pain after you reach 50. In a recent “Health Minute” spot, CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen spoke with Emory orthopedic physician Dr. Ken Mautner about knee pain in women over 50.

According to Dr. Mautner, knee pain in younger women tends to come from tendonitis or irritation issues around the knee. However, as women age, earlier knee injuries may lead to arthritis. The American College of Rheumatology reports that nearly two-thirds of women ages 50 and older have some degree of knee pain, and that pain is often due to osteoarthritis. And, Dr. Mautner says, women are more at risk for arthritis than men.

“We think that estrogen may have some protective effect on the cartilage of the knee,” Dr. Mautner says. That translates to a greater chance of experiencing knee pain after menopause.

Overuse injuries can cause knee pain, as can weight. If you have knee pain, your first step is to see your primary doctor to start determining the cause. He or she may then send you to a specialist. Treatment options may be as simple as taking acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory medications or using exercise as medicine, to strengthen the stabilizing muscles around the knee. Physical therapy may also be an option. When working out, avoid high-impact exercises that can further injure the knee. Low-impact exercises, like swimming, are a good alternative.

To watch Cohen’s “Health Minute,” visit: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/health/2012/01/26/hm-womens-knees.cnn

Are you over 50 and suffering from knee pain? Would you like to learn more about knee pain treatment at Emory? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

Can Osteoarthritis Be Prevented?

preventing osteoarthritisIf you’re starting to feel the twinges of pain or stiffness in your joints or spine, you may be wondering what’s causing it and whether you can prevent it from getting worse. One common contributor to joint and spine pain is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a common joint disease that is caused by degeneration of the cartilage, the cushiony substance between the bones, and if severe, it can then affect the bone itself. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the weight-bearing joints (hips, knees, and spine).

The chance of developing arthritis increases with age. Although some people may have it as early as their 20s and 30s, it is more likely to develop osteoarthritis in your 50 and 60s and older. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, so prevention is the key. There are some risk factors that you can’t change, such as your genes (heredity) and your age. The goal is to decrease risk factors that you do have control over to help prevent osteoarthritis. These include:

  • Weight – obesity increases risk of arthritis
  • Trauma
  • Performing repetitive-motion tasks over a long period of time
  • Weaksurrounding muscles

The same factors that will help you prevent osteoarthritis can also help treat the pain and discomfort from osteoarthritis. Extra weight puts a strain on your joints, so try to keep your weight in a healthy range or lose weight if you’re not in that range. If you’re not sure what a healthy range is for you, check with your doctor. Also, keeping your muscles strong can help decrease the weight on your joints. If pain occurs while you’re doing an activity, listen to your body and decrease your intensity. Bear in mind that repetitive activities can cause joint pain and stiffness. Repetitive activities might include working on the computer or repeated bending or lifting. Try to find other ways of performing daily activities and be sure to take frequent breaks.

If you’re experiencing ongoing or increasing pain and stiffness, it may be time to see one of the physicians at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center for further evaluation and treatment.

Emory physiatrists are physicians specially trained in rehabilitation and pain management. Our physiatrists can work with you to develop a plan that includes daily strengthening and stretching exercises to reduce pain and stiffness. Because osteoarthritis can occur in different areas of your body, you want a plan designed to target the affected joint or joints. Your physician may suggest formal therapy or bracing the joint to help ease pain. Finally, your doctor can suggest an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication or prescribe medication to help with the pain if needed.

Do you have osteoarthritis? What do you do to ease the pain and stiffness? We’d like to hear about your experience. Please take a moment to give us feedback in the comments section below.

Dr. Diana SodiqAbout Diana Sodiq, DO:
Diana Sodiq, DO, is an Assistant Professor of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Medicine. She is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Physiatry). As an osteopathic physician, Dr. Sodiq is trained in both traditional medicine as well as osteopathic manipulative treatments (OMT). She started practicing at Emory in 2010.