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osteoarthritis

Issues in the Treatment of Osteoarthritis

Issues in the Treatment of Osteoarthritis

Teaser: 

Dr. Shafiq Qaadri, MD, Family Physician and CME Lecturer, Toronto, ON.

Introduction
With the demographic shift in Canada--the "greying" of its population--arthritis is a growing health concern. A leading cause of long-term disability in Canada, arthritis and other musculoskeletal diseases result in $17.8 billion in lost productivity annually.1 Currently, four million Canadians are affected by arthritis, and the number of people afflicted is expected to double in the next 20 years.2 Already, 33% of Canada's seniors have osteoarthritis,2 the most common form of arthritis in older adults.

Effective osteoarthritis care requires a spectrum of approaches on the biopsychosocial model including: advice on carrying out daily activities (coping with fatigue, protecting joints, using orthotics); controlling pain through approaches such as relaxation therapy, massage therapy, hydrotherapy or acupuncture; using walking/assistive devices; and learning more about arthritis from organizations or websites. Self-help groups are a particularly valuable resource for arthritis patients.

Many patients ask about alternative remedies such as glucosamine or chondroitin, which have shown some effectiveness in studies. A full discussion of complementary therapies for arthritis is presented on the Arthritis Society website at www.arthritis.ca.

Medication remains the mainstay for controlling arthritis pain of all types.

Alternative Medicine that Actually Works?

Alternative Medicine that Actually Works?

Teaser: 


Glucosamine and Chondroitin in Osteoarthritis

Gerlie C. de los Reyes, BSc, MSc
Department of Pharmaceutical
Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A.

Robert T. Koda, PharmD
Department of Pharmaceutical
Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A.

Eric J. Lien, PhD
Department of Pharmaceutical
Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A.

"Medicine provides the means to treat diseases. Knowledge is the foundation of good health." E. J. Lien

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic joint disease that is estimated to affect almost 5 million Canadians (16% of the population) by the year 2016.1 This degenerative disorder is one of the primary causes of pain and long-term disability in the elderly. The disease is characterized by the progressive deterioration of the articular cartilage, the protective "cushion" at the articulating surfaces of bones. This degenerative process is caused primarily by a defect in the metabolism of the component macromolecules including proteoglycans (aggrecans) and type II collagen.

The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen, indomethacin and piroxicam are the most widely used medications for the treatment of patients with symptomatic OA.

Arthritis Models of Care for Non-pharmacological Interventions

Arthritis Models of Care for Non-pharmacological Interventions

Teaser: 

Sydney C. Lineker, MSc, BScPT
Affiliated Scientist,
Toronto Western Research Institute;
Research Coordinator,
The Arthritis Society, Consultation and Rehabilitation Service, Toronto;
President, Arthritis Health Professions Association,
Toronto, ON.

Linda C. Li, BSc(PT), MSc
Arthritis & Autoimmunity Research Centre,
University Health Network;
The Arthritis Society,
Consultation and Rehabilitation Service, Toronto; Board Member,
Arthritis Health Professions Association,
Toronto, ON.


Introduction
Arthritis, in its many forms, is the most common cause of long-term disability in the elderly,1-4 often resulting in functional problems, the loss of leisure, social and vocational activities, isolation and depression. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis in this population.1

Pain, disability and psychosocial and educational needs are often underestimated by health care providers.5,6 Pain is the most frequently reported symptom6 and is a complex phenomenon requiring a multidimensional approach. Pain may be under-reported by the elderly.6,7 Signs of inflammation--redness, pain and swelling--may be less marked8 and it may be difficult to attribute pain to a specific cause.2 Comorbidity, polypharmacy and complications of pharmacological interventions unique to the elderly add to the mix.

Osteoarthritis: Understanding Pathogenesis May Lead to Innovative Treatment

Osteoarthritis: Understanding Pathogenesis May Lead to Innovative Treatment

Teaser: 

Jerry Tenenbaum, MD, FRCPC
Rheumatologist,
Mount Sinai Hospital and
Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care,
Associate Professor,
University of Toronto,
Toronto, ON.


Introduction
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic disease of the joint that results in degeneration of the cartilage and bone. However, in osteoarthritis, it is not uncommon to see intermittent or even chronic evidence of inflammation in the affected joint. Patients may experience stiffness after immobility (in the morning or after sitting for a long time), warmth and erythema of the joint, and soft tissue swelling and/or synovial effusion. On history taking and physical exam, these findings attest to the inflammatory nature of the involved osteoarthritic joint at the time. A microscopic examination of the synovium of patients with osteoarthritis will often show the presence of inflammation. Though cartilage and bone seem to be the primary targets of damage, it is likely that inflammation within the synovium may play an important role in the progressive damage to these joint tissues. Primary involvement of synovium may occur in some patients and secondary synovitis is commonly seen. This is associated with the intermittent or chronic presence of crystals (calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate, hydroxyapatite) or synovitis associated with stimulation by joint damage debris.

Treating osteoarthritis--when all else fails try viscosupplementation

Treating osteoarthritis--when all else fails try viscosupplementation

Teaser: 

When pain killers, exercise, and physical therapy have all failed, a medical technology called viscosupplementation can relieve knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. Viscosupplementation does not replace the need for thigh muscle strengthening, or for overweight patients to lose weight. There are currently two products available in Canada, Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyalagan) and Hylan G-F 20 (Synvisc). These products are made of a biopolymer of a synthetic polysaccharide substance called hyaluranan, which is made to possess elasticity and viscosity like that of young, healthy, synovial fluid. They are delivered through a series of injections, all one week apart, and work by adding "padding" to the joint as well as reducing inflammation and improving mobility. Pain relief appears in a few days, progresses over a few weeks, and often lasts several months. One of the concerns about viscosupplementation is that it is relatively expensive, at least more so than NSAIDs and cortisone injections. Unfortunately, most provincial drug plans do not cover viscosupplements, and it is difficult to predict who will gain long-term benefit (e.g. 3-6 months) versus short-term benefits (2-3 weeks) from the products.

Further reading

Adams ME, Atkinson MH, Lussier AJ, Schulz JI, Siminovitch KA, Wade JP, Zummer M. The role of viscosupplementation with hylan G-F 20 (Synvisc) in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a Canadian multicenter trial comparing hylan G-F 20 alone, hylan G-F 20 with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and NSAIDs alone. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 1995;3(4):213-25.

Osteoarthritis: When should joint replacement be considered?

Osteoarthritis: When should joint replacement be considered?

Teaser: 

Shechar Dworski, BSc

Osteoarthritis (OA) is common in the elderly, affecting as many as 80% of people aged 55 and over. It is the most common form of arthritis, occurring mostly, but not exclusively, in the elderly. It is also the most common musculoskeletal disease in the elderly. It affects mostly the hands, as well as the major weight bearing joints of the body which are primarily the hips and knees. Please refer to the article on Osteoarthritis: Early Diagnosis Improves Prognosis in the May/June 1999 issue of Geriatrics & Aging for more information on the symptoms and specific aspects of OA. There are several routes one may take to treat OA, as well as many preventive measures. Joint replacement is usually the last step, when all other treatments have been unsuccessful. At this stage of disease, people often have difficulty walking and climbing stairs, and have joint pain at rest and at night. In this case, joint replacement therapy is extremely effective at relieving pain and improving function.

Osteoarthritis: Early Diagnosis Improves Prognosis

Osteoarthritis: Early Diagnosis Improves Prognosis

Teaser: 

Nariman Malik, BSc

Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent rheumatic disease.1 It affects primarily the elderly and is rarely seen in individuals younger than 40. Osteoarthritis was believed to be an unavoidable consequence of aging, however, it is now believed to be a degenerative process that results from the interaction of metabolic, mechanical, genetic and other factors.

The disease is a heterogeneous disorder that affects different joints.2 Each affected joint has different clinical manifestations, prognoses, and patterns of progression. The prevalence of osteoarthritis increases with age. It is more common in women than in men.2 Women present more with osteoarthritis of the hand while men present more with problems of weight-bearing joints.3 In general, the management of osteoarthritis is coordinated by the family physician.2 If there is any doubt about the diagnosis or any complications, a rheumatologist or geriatrician should be consulted. Physiotherapists and occupational therapists are key members of the multidisciplinary management team critical to the long-term management of this chronic illness.

Pathogenesis

Osteoarthritis is a disorder of the hyaline articular cartilage on the bony surface of joints (see Figure 1).2 Hyaline articular cartilage is composed of type II collagen, proteoglycans, as well as chondrocytes and water.