Posts Tagged ‘bone health’

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.

Act Now to Prevent Joint Pain Later

Prevent Joint PainAnyone putting their little toe in the waters of middle age has a glimmer of what joint pain feels like. It’s no fun. But there are things you can do to ease joint pain now and prevent future joint pain. Here are some joint-smart steps you can put into action:

Maintain a health weight. Carrying extra weight can cause significant joint pain over time, particularly in weight-bearing areas like the hips, knees, and ankles. Prevent problems now and down the line by maintaining a healthy weight. Talk with your doctor if you need help starting a weight-loss program.

Get regular exercise. Low-impact activities such as walking or hiking, swimming, and stationary cycling are great options for building bone-supporting muscles, keeping weight down, and improving joint mobility. Just 30 minutes a day can have a real impact on your long-term health and comfort. Exercise has been proved to ease arthritis pain, as well.

Keep your skeletal system strong. Help prevent osteoporosis (more common in women) by getting plenty of calcium, which you’ll find in dairy products and leafy green vegetables or in supplement form. Calcium builds bone density and makes bones less susceptible to arthritis. Consider reducing or eliminating caffeine, as it can weaken your bone structure.

Eat more fish. Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce joint pain and stiffness in people suffering from arthritis. If you don’t love fish, take fish oil supplements instead.

Get plenty of vitamin C. Vitamin C may help speed the recovery of damaged muscles by repairing tissues, easing joint pain. These 10 fruits and veggies are rich in vitamin C: oranges, guava, red bell peppers, kiwi, grapefruit, vegetable juice cocktail, oranges, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, and cantaloupe.

Wear sensible shoes. OK. We know that one’s no fun. But joint pain is a high price to pay for fashion. Eschew the high heels and look instead for flexible shoes that provide support. You want the shoe to bend with your foot as you walk. These days, there are plenty of good-looking shoes out there that will be kind to your feet and joints.

Already experiencing joint pain? If you put our suggestions to the test and still feel the pain, make an appointment to see us at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center.

Do you suffer from joint pain? If so, what treatments have worked best for you? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

Osteoporosis: Not Just a Women’s Disease

Osteoporosis MenThought you were safe from osteoporosis because you’re a guy? Think again. Osteoporosis is not just a women’s disease. In fact, one in eight males will develop an osteoporosis-related fracture in his lifetime.

When you’re young, your bone is constantly changing—old bone is removed and replaced by new bone. Osteoporosis occurs when new bone is not generated quickly enough to replace old bone, leading to decreased bone mass and a weakened skeleton. This weakening, in turn, leads to an increased susceptibility to fractures. While more women than men develop osteoporosis, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it still poses a significant threat to millions of men in the U.S.

Why do fewer men than women develop the disease? Men have larger skeletons—meaning more overall bone mass—and don’t undergo the same bone-loss-causing hormone changes that women deal with during menopause. Bone loss in men starts later and progresses more slowly. However, because men are living longer these days, osteoporosis has become an important public health issue.

While osteoporosis in women is generally age related, most men develop the disease for different reasons. Some of the risk factors that have been linked to osteoporosis in men include:

  • Smoking, excessive alcohol use, low calcium intake, and inadequate physical exercise
  • Chronic diseases that affect the kidneys, lungs, stomach, and intestines or alter hormone levels
  • Regular use of certain medications, such as glucocorticoids
  • Low levels of testosterone

A “silent disease,” osteoporosis progresses without symptoms until a fracture occurs. Those fractures most often are in the hip, spine, and wrist and can be permanently disabling. Hip fractures, in particular, are dangerous, as men who sustain hip fractures are more likely than women to die from complications.

In men, all too often osteoporosis isn’t diagnosed until a fracture occurs. If you have any of the lifestyle risk factors for developing the disease, or you experience a loss of height or change in posture, a fracture, or sudden back pain, tell your doctor. When detected before significant bone loss has occurred, osteoporosis can be treated with medication, improved nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes. If you think you may be at risk for osteoporosis, make an appointment with your Emory physician for a medical workup and bone mineral density test.

Do you have osteoporosis, or do you know someone who does? How are you dealing with it? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

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

Vitamin D & Calcium – A Healthy Bone Building Partnership (Part I)

Our 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, we want to share some interesting findings from new research being conducted around Vitamin D and Calcium and suggest few ways to get more of both in your diet, if you need them.

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease, a division of the National Institute of Health, “low Calcium intake throughout life is associated with low bone mass and high fracture rates.” And while Calcium is critical in building bone health and density, Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb this Calcium. According to findings from the CDC last year, about 1/3 of all Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. So if you’re looking for ways to boost your Calcium or Vitamin D intake, where should you start? Well, first, check out the latest recommendations on Calcium and Vitamin D intake from the Institute of Medicine:

Calcium & Vitamin D Recommendations

Then, after taking a look at your own diet as it compares to these recommendations, determine whether you need more or less of either Calcium or Vitamin D in your diet. If you need more of either, below we’ve listed some sources of both Calcium and Vitamin D.

Good Sources of Vitamin D

  • Sunlight
  • Supplements
  • Food
    • Cod Liver Oil
    • Fatty Fish (Swordfish, Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel)
    • Fortified Orange Juice or Milk
    • Eggs (Vitamin D is in the yolk)
    • Fortified Dairy Products & Cereals

Good Sources of Calcium:

  • Dairy Products
  • Fortified Cereals and Soy Beverages
  • Tofu
  • Spinach, Soy Beans, Beet Greens & Collards
  • White Beans

As is always the case, you should consult with your physician before changing your intake of any vitamin or nutrient, so make sure to discuss your bone health concerns with he or she at your next visit to get advice specific to your needs. If you have additional tips and ideas on Calcium, Vitamin D, or bone health, please leave them for us in the comments below!