Osteoarthritis in canines: biomarker research gives hope to dog owners

June 11, 2009 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

dogIt is not only humans who suffer from osteoarthritis. Animals such as horses and dogs can have it as well. Osteoarthritis is a disease characterized by degradation of the articular cartilage, that results in pain, inflammation and loss of motion in the joint.

And like humans, animals also suffer from pain and restricted mobility that the disease brings.

Researchers at the University of Missouri have been searching for a feasible biomarker for risk of developing osteoarthritis and they might just have found one that works for dogs as well. According to James Cook, professor of veterinary medicine and surgery, and the William & Kathryn Allen Distinguished Professor in Orthopedic Surgery

“By developing methods for earlier diagnosis of osteoarthritis, prevention or even curative treatment strategies to manage the disease become more realistic. Biomarkers could detect the disease before pain and swelling occurs, and owners could take preventative measures, such as modifying activities or diet, helping their pets lose weight and strengthen their joints, to reduce the likelihood of their dogs developing osteoarthritis.”

The researchers looked for potential biomarkers in the synovial fluid, the fluid that lubricates the joints. It is believed that the synovial fluid responds rapidly to damage to the joints. The By taking samples from dogs, UM researchers found that the quantity and quality of synovial fluid exhibited some marked changes in canine patients with injured stifle joints. This is the joint in the hind limbs of dogs that is the equivalent joint to the human knee.

“At the MU Comparative Orthopaedic Laboratory, we are particularly interested in identification and validation of biomarkers that can detect early stages of osteoarthritis to provide accurate diagnostic and prognostic information prior to the onset of clinical disease for people and for pets,” Cook said. “Our team, led by Drs. Kuroki, Stoker and Garner, is making tremendous progress in developing simple tests on blood, urine and synovial fluid that show great promise for helping us diagnose impending osteoarthritis before it is too late to help the patient in the most effective manner.”

Like in humans, osteoarthritis in dogs is associated with age. It is estimated that 20% of middle-aged dogs and 90%of older dogs have osteoarthritis in one or more joints. In humans, the incidence is even much higher.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Muscuskeletal Ultrasound in Rheumatoid Arthritis

July 28, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSUS) has been around for quite sometime and has turned into an established imaging technique for the diagnosis and follow up of patients with rheumatic diseases — such as rheumatoid arthritis. MSUS generates pictures/imaging of muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and soft tissue throughout the body.

From Radiology Info, MSUS helps diagnose the following:

  • tendon tears, such as tears of the rotator cuff in the shoulder or Achilles tendon in the ankle
  • abnormalities of the muscles, such as tears and soft-tissue masses
  • bleeding or other fluid collections within the muscles, bursae and joints

One limitation however of this imagine procedure is that it has difficulty penetrating to the bones and so can only see the outer surface of bony structures. For imaging of the internals of the bones and joints, MRI comes in.

According to UK’s National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society:

Ultrasound is relatively inexpensive and safe, avoiding the exposure to radiation that is necessary for conventional x-rays, CT and MRI scans.

Traditionally, rheumatologists have referred patients to radiologists for all ultrasound examinations but recent developments have enabled them to conduct some scans themselves. The advent of portable ultrasound machines (figure 2) means that scans can be carried out at the bedside or in the outpatient clinic without the need for a second appointment in the x-ray department.

This speeds up the process of investigation and allows the rheumatologist to plan treatment without delay. Radiologists are expert at conducting detailed scans that often assist with a structural diagnosis. Rheumatologists tend to use ultrasound in a slightly different way. They may use it to guide them in carrying out difficult joint injections.

They also use it to detect subtle inflammation around tendons and small knuckle joints. This is important because clinical examination may not always identify inflammation, particularly in early arthritis. The earlier the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, the better the chance of dampening down inflammation and preventing joint damage.

Well I guess it is always better to see a rheumatologist for this procedure…though the combined ‘reading’ or interpretation of both rheumatologist and radiologist alike would be a lot of help. Has anybody reading this underwent MSUS, let us know about it. Was the procedure helpful in the diagnosis?

More of Alternative Therapies For Arthritis Patients

May 25, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

I found the following report entitled: Beyond the Pill Bottle: Alternative Arthritis Therapies which emphasizes the benefits of alternative therapies for arthritis patients.

“Beyond the pill bottle” may have a serious or funny ring to it, but for most arthritis sufferers whose fingers’ joints are inflicted with the debilitating arthritis, they may not even be able to open the pill bottle. I totally agree, besides I am a total promoter of alternative treatments.

Fingers and hands are particularly susceptible to pain and inflammation that can cause difficulty in gripping, pinching and grasping — motions needed to perform simple, everyday tasks. Non-medicinal treatments — from supplements to specially designed gloves — can help improve pain relief and quality of life for many arthritis sufferers.

I mean…we shouldn’t realy on medical pills alone, especially the ones that render you with harmful side effects. The said report enumarates the importance of mild to moderate exercise. It said: use your joints or lose it!

  • help improve flexibility and reduce pain in the long term
  • help keep joints moving
  • strengthen muscles connected to joints
  • preserve bone health
  • control weight that greatly impacts arthritis pain
  • improve your overall health and fitness

And then the real alternative treatments enumerated are massage, acupunture and acupressure.

Massage is an age-old treatment that has proven therapeutic for a wide range of ailments, including arthritis. Both self- and professional massage can work well. If you choose to have a professional massage, make sure the therapist is experienced in working with arthritis patients.

Acupuncture and acupressure have become widely accepted pain-relief therapies. The World Health Organization views acupuncture as a valid, useful treatment for a number of ailments, including chronic pain. As always, consult your physician when considering acupuncture as a treatment. Be sure the therapist you choose has experience working with arthritis patients.

I assure you that regular massage helps a lot. it has helped improve my circulation as opposed to the blood ciculation meds I was given before that has given me palpitations. Also, It helped improve the movements in my knees and helped relax taut muscles.

I’ve yet to try acupunture just becasue there isn’t an acupunturist in my area. But if I find one, I will surely try it out. Of course, talking leisurely walks (in the mornings or afternoons) helps a lot, especially that I am stucked in front of a computer most of the day.

What about you? What kind of alternative therapies have you used that helped in managing your arthritis?

Arthroscopic Surgery, Arthritic Knees and Arthritic Pain

February 11, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Arthroscopic surgery (arthroscopy) is a procedure wherein damaged tissue from joints are removed.

Therefore, technically speaking, this procedure should relieve arthritic knees for example.

Arthroscopic surgery for knee osteoarthritis can include a number of different procedures.

These range from lavage, which is flushing and suctioning debris from the joint, to methods like debridement for trimming damaged cartilage and bone spurs.

Surgeons might also treat the bone itself with abrasion or microfracture to stimulate the growth of new cartilage.

BUT, according to a new review of evidence, trimming damaged tissue through arthroscopic surgery does not relieve pain and swelling in arthritic knees any better than simply flushing loose debris from the joint.

However, these findings come from studies on a broad range of patients. The technique, known as arthroscopic debridement (AD), might still improve comfort and mobility in some subsets of patients with the most common form of arthritis, the review authors say.

“Surgeons should make a careful decision about using AD for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis,” said lead author Wiroon Laupattarakasem, M.D., of Khon Kaen University in Thailand. “It should by no means be regarded as inappropriate for every knee.”

Typically, those with osteoarthritis are the ones that often undergo arthroscopic surgery.

Osteoarthritis is typically a progressive disease that affects the hands, hips, shoulders and knees, especially in older people. The condition causes cartilage — which cushions the ends of bones in these joints — to break down. Loose bits of tissue can then cause pain, swelling and poor joint function.

The said review, appears in the most recent issue of The Cochrane Library.

Possible side effects of arthroscopic surgery include a small risk of infection and blood clots. Moreover, the procedure does not stop the progression of osteoarthritis. Symptoms of the disease are likely to return over time and surgical realignment or replacement of the joint could ultimately be necessary.

At this time, clinicians must make decisions regarding arthroscopic debridement on a case-by-case basis. “There may be certain types of pathology or certain levels of disease severity for which AD can be more effective,” says Laupattarakasem.

“The only osteoarthritis patients I typically consider for arthroscopic surgery are those with mild to moderate disease and mechanical symptoms in the knee,” agreed Scott Zashin, M.D., a rheumatologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Such symptoms occur when fragments of cartilage interfere with the joint, causing a painful popping sensation or even locking or buckling of the knee.

As I have always said, anything as invasive as any surgery, doesn’t come with no risks. AS the case maybe, always proceed with caution and several opinions. It is always best to discuss your options thoroughly with your doctor.

Find more details from Center for the Advancement of Health.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.