Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Painful joints impacting on love lives

Is your arthritis affecting your love life?
Painful joints ranked higher than the traditional excuse of 'having a headache' as an out of sex, according to new research.

Two thirds of 55-69 year olds felt that their relationship was less intimate than when they first got together and nearly a quarter of marries couples say they're unsatisfied with their current love life.

Nearly a third of couples don't cuddle or hold hands enough anymore, nearly half feel that they aren't having enough sex and have sex less often than once a fortnight. The survey also revealed that over half of people in the UK feel that their relationship is less intimate than it used to be. 

Sex expert Tracey Cox said "As we rush around leading busy lives, it's easy for relationships to suffer. The survey shows that couples want to be more physically intimate with one another, holding hands, having a cuddle and having sex are all important to keep a healthy relationship."

Arthritis Research UK conducted the survey to reveal the everyday challenges couples face in their relationships, and to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people with Arthritis and joint pain to stay intimate in their relationships. Joint pain can affect many parts of the body including hands, hips, knees, fingers, back and neck. This makes movements that many of us take for granted, like having sex, holding hands or cuddling incredibly painful. Previous studies have shown that 13% of people with arthritis found joint pain impacted on their sex life.

Professor Alan Silman, Medical Director of Arthritis Research UK, said: "These results show that physical intimacy is important in relationships and it's difficult in modern life to keep that alive. For people with Arthritis, it's even tougher. The impact that joint pain has can prevent you from doing a lot of what we take for granted like cuddling and having sex. Imagine how much harder it would be to stay close to your partner if you couldn't give them a hug, or even lie next to them in bed without being in pain.  For many even the simple task of making your partner a cup of tea is too difficult."

Catherine Manning aged 33 from Essex, who has osteoarthritis, said: "As a result of having severe arthritis, I am now bound to a wheelchair and live in constant pain which makes everyday living challenging – especially maintaining intimacy with my husband. Over the past few years, he has gone from being my lover to my full time carer. He helps me in the morning to take my medication, shower and get dressed."

For people living with arthritis and joint pain, there is help. Sex expert Tracey Cox says: "For many people living with arthritis and joint pain, basic things like going out on a date can be impossible which can cause relationships to break down. Importantly the dynamic can also significantly change over time. The person you married five years ago can turn in to a full time carer, which puts a lot of pressure on that person too.

There are many ways to manage and overcome these issues though. Open communication and listening to each other will help you to become more creative and share ways of overcoming intimacy problems inside and outside of the bedroom."

The charity Arthritis Research UK is encouraging people to learn more about the impact that arthritis and joint pain can have on everyday life. If you are living with or caring for someone with arthritis, you can find out more about how to maintain an intimate relationship and the life changing work of Arthritis Research UK by visiting

This article was originally published at

by Taryn Davies

Friday, February 21, 2014

Osteoarthritis of the Thumb: Diagnosis and Treatment

Osteoarthritis of the Thumb
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Thumb arthritis is one of the forms of Osteoarthritis which affects the joints which are located at the base of the thumb also known as basal joint or carpometacarpal joint. 

Osteoarthritis of the thumb is common in women than men and usually develops after 40 years of age.

Osteoarthritis of the thumb occurs when the smooth cartilage which usually enables the joints and the bones to glide wears out resulting to friction and bone and joint damage. You are more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the thumb if you had joint fractures before. Osteoarthritis of the thumb has several symptoms. These include:

i. Swelling and tenderness at the base of the thumb.
ii. Limited motion
iii. A bone growth over the joint
iv. A bigger than usual joint
v. Experiencing pain when involved in activities such as opening the door, snapping your fingers, carrying a bag, gripping and punching.
vi. Discomfort after a long time use.
vii. Loss of strength when pinching or involved in gripping activities.
viii. Loose carpometacarpal joint  which can bend back (hyper-extension)

Osteoarthritis of the thumb can be diagnosed by physical examination and also can be based on the affected person medical history. Osteoarthritis commonly occurs in the thumb if you suffered hand injuries especially the thumb in the past. 

Physical examination usually reveals the unusual range of motion in the carpometacarpal joint, tenderness at the base of the thumb and swelling.

Sometimes a grinding sound may be heard when moving the joints (crepitus). The sound is caused by bone ends which rub against each other. X-ray can also be used to check if the joints have been damaged.

People who have osteoarthritis of the thumb will complain of pain when performing duties such as gardening, opening the door, pinching and grasping things.

During examination of the patient the doctor should ensure to rule out other causes of thumb pain such as deQueruain’s disease, metacarpophalangeal arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

There are several available treatments for osteoarthritis of the thumb. They include the surgical and non-surgical treatment.

Non surgical treatments are usually effective in cases where the condition is not in its early stages.

These non-surgical treatments include:

i. Icing the joint - You can place ice on the affected joint for about 5 to 10 minutes several times in a day. This helps in reducing the swelling and inflammation. 
ii. Wearing a supportive splint - The splint helps in limiting the movement of the thumb and also allows the joint to rest and heal. Splint can help in protecting both the thumb and the wrist. They can be worn during the day at intervals and during the nights.
iii. Use of anti inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen and aspirin - These medicines usually help in reducing inflammation and swelling.
iv. Corticosteroids can also be injected at the affected joint Corticosteroids are usually effective especially in the early stages of the condition. The effects of corticosteroids can be for a long period of time to people who experience inflammation only.

Surgical treatments are used when the non-surgical treatments have not been effective. The surgical treatment should be started when you experience pain, when there is a deformity or when you can no longer be able to perform daily tasks using your hand. The surgery to be performed depends upon the radio-graphic stage of the disease and the activities of the affected person.

The surgical procedure can be divided into two:

I. Surgery for early stage.
II. Surgery for late stage.

The symptoms are usually caused by resultant inflammation and joint laxity to patients who experience cartilage softening and fibrillation but no cartilage loss.

The surgical treatment usually involve the reconstruction of the palmar beak ligament so that to achieve a stable joint. This can be done by use of a slip of Flexor Carpi Radiatis (FCR) tendon which is attached to its insertion on the index metacarpal base and passed through a bone tunnel on a bone that has been created in the thumb base and back around so as to be sutured to itself. The reconstruction has been very effective especially in the early stages of arthritis.

In cases of late stage arthritis arthrodesis is effective. Arthrodesis is effective in young patients who still perform a lot of duties using their hands.

Other procedures which can be performed include trapezial excision and trapezial excision with reconstruction of the palmar break ligament.

Before choosing which surgery best suit you, a discussion with your physician can be helpful.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Weather may truly affect arthritis pain

Arthritis (DElight, E+ Photography via Getty Images)
BY - Shereen Jegtvig

For people with osteoarthritis of the hip, pain levels tracked with the weather over the course of a small two-year study, Dutch researchers say.

They looked at reported pain levels in a previous study of arthritis, then went back to weather records to document the conditions each day.

It turns out the participants' aches were just a little worse and joints just a little stiffer when humidity and barometric pressure levels rose.

"This is something that patients talk about all the time," Dr. Patience White told Reuters Health. A rheumatologist and vice president for Public Health Policy and Advocacy for the Arthritis Foundation, she was not involved in the study.

Osteoarthritis affects about 27 million Americans. Common risk factors include getting older, being obese, having previous joint injuries, overuse, weak muscles and genetics.

White said she often sees patients who say they are sensitive to the weather.

"Nobody's bedridden by the weather change," she said, "It's not severe pain, they just ache more."

More than 60 percent of patients with osteoarthritis say that weather conditions, such as rain, barometric pressure and temperature have an impact on their pain and stiffness, according to the study team, which was led by Desirée Dorleijn, of Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam.

Past research attempting to investigate the weather connection had yielded inconsistent results, so Dorleijn and her colleagues looked at self-reported hip pain and function in 222 osteoarthritis patients who participated in a glucosamine sulphate study.

The patients enrolled in the study filled out questionnaires every three months for two years, including the Western Ontario and McMasters University Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), which is scale for self-assessment of pain and function. The WOMAC scores range from 0 to 100, with 0 indicating no pain.

The researchers gathered weather reports for the days the patients filled out the questionnaires. The information gathered from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute included average temperature, wind speed, hours of sunlight, rainfall, humidity and barometric pressure.

Patients who underwent surgeries for their arthritis were dropped during the study; so 188 participants completed the full two years of monitoring.

About 70 percent of participants were women, averaging about 63 years old.

The average starting WOMAC pain score was 23.1 and the function score was 35.1. Those scores improved slightly - each by about 2 points - throughout the study.

But when the researchers compared weather conditions to pain and function scores, they found that pain scores worsened by 1 point for each 10 percent increase in humidity. Function scores worsened by one point for every 10 hectopascals (0.29 of an inch) increase in barometric pressure.

For a change to be considered 'clinically relevant,' it has to alter the WOMAC score by at least ten points, Dorleijn's team writes in the journal Pain.

Since variations in humidity and barometric pressure are limited, they could account for changes of 5 to 6 WOMAC points at the most, they write.

White agreed that requiring a 10-point change to be significant is the accepted approach to using the WOMAC scale. But that doesn't mean the pain wasn't real, she said.

"This is about people seeing a little bit of change, whether it's the humidity or barometric pressure or function or pain," White said.

Apart from its small size, the study did have some limitations, White noted. For instance, the patients didn't have severe osteoarthtitis and the pain was only in one joint. Still, she thinks it was a good study.

"They did the best they can do, and they did find a little bit of change. They decided it wasn't significant." She said.

But, she said, just because findings didn't reach statistical significance from the researchers' point of view, they can be significant from the patients' point of view.

SOURCE: Pain, online January 24, 2014.

Copyright © 2014, Reuters

This Article was originally published at -,0,1413207.story

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Early Onset Arthritis

signs and symptoms of arthritis
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Arthritis is a condition that is characterized by slow and minor symptoms. They normally come and go slowly on various joints of the body and from there it develops over a period of several months. However, it is not a universal thing when it comes with symptoms of this condition as they differ from person to person. This is normally a very painful condition that involves swelling and inflammation of body joints (normally where two joints meet). In fact there are many types of arthritis that affect human beings. Some of the common types of arthritis include Osteoarthritis, Psoriatic, Rheumatoid, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Gout and Lupus. For you to be able to tell the earlier symptoms of arthritis, you need to be able to know the type of arthritis that you are dealing with. This is because every type of arthritis has its own specific symptoms. The following are the top 5 symptoms of that you will experience when arthritis start to bite you.

1. Joint Pain

The most significant earlier symptom is joint pain. Depending on your type of arthritis, your joint pain will become more painful after doing some activities. The part of your joint pain will normally depend upon the type of your arthritis. For instance, gout will normally affect your ankles, feet, hands, wrists and knees. 

2. Joint Stiffness

This is also one of the earliest signs of arthritis. Stiffness is normally felt as the first thing when you wake up in the morning. As the day progresses, this stiffness will start to subside slowly by slowly until it disappears. Stiffness might result to other form of symptom which is limited range of locomotion. It is important to note that the length of time that stiffness will last normally depend on the type of arthritis you are suffering from. Generally, some types of arthritic stiffness will last for about 30 minutes while for other types it will last for over an hour.

3. Tenderness of Joints

This is another earlier indicator that you could be suffering from arthritis. Similarly, the body joint to be affected will also depend on the type of arthritis that is about to manifest. For instance, Osteoarthritis will normally produce pain in the spine, knee and the hands. 

4. Limited Range of Motion

You should be careful if you find that your range of motion has started to be limited for one or more of your joints as this can be one of the earlier signs of arthritis. This symptom may result into difficulties of doing some chores or may hinder you from doing certain activities. What you need to do is to check whether this will involve the bending or extension of a joint or both

5. Redness and Warmth

Swelling, redness and warmth around your joints is another sign that could be as result of arthritis. To be more precise, this particular type of symptom is a result of rheumatoid arthritis. This is a classic form of symptom mainly when the affected joints are those from the hands feet. But you can also expect other forms of arthritis to show this particular symptom; so do not assume this symptom.

The other forms of symptoms tat you might expect in the earlier stages of arthritis may include rashes, fever fatigue and weight loss among others. These symptoms will always vary depending on the type of arthritis that you are suffering from. This is due to the fact that arthritis is a condition that consists of over 100 types of it. It is therefore important for you to actually talk to your doctor for more advice as you might confuse between the various forms of arthritis. 

For better management of this condition of arthritis, you need not to ignore of these signs because the earlier you start medication the better for you. For those who will ignore these earlier signs, it could lead to their joints continued to be depleted and it will eventually lead them to being disabled. Other forms of joint inflammation that might be as a result of earlier signs of arthritis may include tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia and others. It is advisable for you to discuss all of your symptoms with your doctor as earlier as possible to avoid the likelihood of your condition becoming more dangerous.