RSD Outreach awareness


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Post  byrd45 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:40 pm


Joints, like car parts, require maintenance
Osteoarthritis is common, but prevention is possible
BY SCOTT PAGE Gulf Breeze News

You've probably heard the old adage that people with osteoarthritis can predict a coming storm because they can "feel it in their bones."

Well, there actually is some truth to that claim.

"People with arthritis can actually predict the weather due to the effects of the changes in barometric pressure," said Dr. Lonnie Paulos, an orthopedic surgeon at The Andrews Institute.

Becoming an amateur weatherman is only one of the many side-effects of osteoarthritis, which affects approximately 27 million Americans, according to The Arthritis Foundation.

Osteoarthritis is no joke, and The Arthritis Foundation estimates the disease costs the U.S. cconomy nearly $128 billion each year in medical care and indirect expenses, including lost wages and productivity.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease and the most common type of arthritis. It is a chronic condition, characterized by the breakdown of a joint's cartilage, which is the cushion between the bones.

Knees are one of the most common joints affected said Paulos, who spoke at a knee health seminar, sponsored by Get Healthy Pensacola, at The Andrews Institute on Wednesday, Jan. 21.

"Our knees are like car tires," Paulos said. "If they're out of line they wear out quicker, but even if they're inline, they still eventually wear out."

Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain or stiffness in joints after periods of inactivity or excessive use, a grating or catching sensation during joint movement and bony growths at the margins of affected joints.

Paulos explained that paying attention to these symptoms and receiving an accurate diagnosis are extremely important steps in creating a plan to counteract the effects of osteoarthritis.

"Making the correct diagnosis is extremely important," Paulos said. "We have to determine if it is actually arthritis so we can prescribe the best treatment plan."

Paulos listed medication, injections, physical therapy, weight loss and surgery as the most effective treatment options for osteoarthritis.

"Every case is different, so we have to determine the best combination for each patient," Paulos explained. "I would recommend someone take over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol as the first line of defense against the pain and swelling. If they persist, then we can move into the stronger prescription medications."

In addition to hereditary factors, obesity is one of the major causes of osteoarthritis, so pain relievers aren't always the answer.

"The heavier you are, the more strain you put on your knees over the years," Paulos said.

For those who are overweight, shedding some extra pounds can make a significant difference.

"For every pound you lose, you remove four pounds of pressure off your knees," Paulos said. "That means losing 10 pounds takes 40 pounds of pressure off your knees."

Exercising to increase joint flexibility and strength are another way to delay the effects of osteoarthritis.

"Low-impact exercises are great," said Andy Tucker, owner of Fitness Acceleration (FA) at The Club Family Sports in Gulf Breeze and member of the Board of Directors for The Arthritis Foundation's Northwest Florida Chapter. "You should do lots of core training, stretching and flexibility training."

Paulos prescribed the same type of training.

"Stretching, mainly your hamstrings, before, during and after activities helps increase blood flow in the knee joint," Paulos said. "Strength training is also important. I would recommend mostly light resistance training using rubber bands."

Both Paulos and Tucker said that water training is one of the most effective ways to exercise with osteoarthritis.

"Water training is extremely effective," Paulos said. "It is the environment that will help you recover the quickest."

Tucker said his FA trainers are beginning to lead warmwater exercise classes at The Club.

"The warm-water classes allow people with arthritis to exercise without putting any strain on the joints because the water eliminates some of the effects of gravity," Tucker said. "The warm water also helps increase blood flow and helps loosen the joint up."

For those living with osteoarthritis but want to maintain an active lifestyle, Paulos and Tucker recommend finding alternative activities that put less stress on the knees.

"If you're a runner, try swimming or cycling instead," Paulos said.

"Swimming is great for cardio and strength," Tucker said. "Cycling is another great activity that is very low-impact on the knees."

Paulos said surgery is a last resort only used when the pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis become overwhelming and are impeding to a normal lifestyle.

"There are several surgical options, and you should always start with the least extreme procedure and progress from there," Paulos said.

They range from a simple arthroscopic clean-up, where the rough pieces of cartilage are shaved down like mowing grass, to a total knee replacement where ends of the bones are capped with pads to replace the missing cartilage.

Though osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, there are ways to protect your joints, maintain a normal lifestyle and possibly avoid major operations.

"The best advice I can give is to listen to your body," Tucker said. "What I mean is to start low with your exercising. If you walk a mile and you start feeling pain, stop. If you feel great then keep going."

Those who have or may have osteoarthritis should visit The Arthritis Foundation Web site at to learn more about causes, symptoms and treatment options.


1. Maintain your ideal body weight. The more you weigh, the more stress you are putting on your joints, especially your hips, knees, back and feet.

2. Move your body. Exercise protects joints by strengthening the muscles around them. Strong muscles keep your joints from rubbing against one another, wearing down cartilage. We can help you get started on an exercise program that works for you.

3. Stand up straight. Good posture protects the joints in your neck, back, hips and knees.

4. Use the big joints. When lifting or carrying, use largest and strongest joints and muscles. This will help you avoid injury and strain on your smaller joints.

5. Pace yourself. Alternate periods of heavy activity with periods of rest. Repetitive stress on joints for long periods of time can accelerate the wear and tear that causes OA.

6. Listen to your body. If you are in pain, don't ignore it. Pain after activity or exercise can be an indication that you have overstressed your joints.

7. Don't be static. Changing positions regularly will decrease the stiffness in your muscles and joints.

8. Forget the weekend warrior. Don't engage in activities your body for which your body isn't prepared. Start new activities slowly and safely until you know how your body will react to them. This will reduce the chance of injury.

9. Wear proper safety equipment. Don't leave helmets and wrist pads at home. Make sure you get safety gear that is comfortable and fits appropriately.

10. Ask for help. Don't try to do a job that is too big for you to handle. Get another pair of hands to help out.

The Arthritis Foundation ... h/065.html

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