Joint Pain: Some Useful Information


Most, if not all, who suffer from joint pain are faced with much discomfort throughout their day. Joint pain can be mild, causing some soreness each time you move your joint. Or joint pain can be severe, making it impossible to use your joint altogether. This medical condition is rarely an emergency and most mild cases can be successfully managed at home. 

What Causes Joint Pain? 

There are many causes someone may develop joint pain. The two most frequent cause of joint pain are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 27 million individuals in the United States have this chronic condition. Most often the knees, hips and hands are affected. Joint pain due to osteoarthritis results from a breakdown of the cartilage that serves as a cushion and shock absorber for the joints. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis affects about 1.3 million Americans and can deform and debilitate the joints over time. This type of arthritis can cause pain, inflammations and fluid buildup in the joints as the membrane that lines them is attacked by the body’s immune system. Other conditions that may cause joint pain include:

• Bursitis (inflammation of the cushioning pads around the joints)

• Lupus

• Gout

• Infection of the bone

• Overuse

• Cancer


Who is at Risk for Joint Pain? 

There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of joint pain. Those who struggle with excess weight may be putting stress on their joints. If a person is overweight, ordinary activities such as walking or going up and down stairs puts a strain on their joints. Those who have certain structural abnormalities, such as having one leg shorter than the other, misaligned knees and even flat feet, may be caused with joint pain. A lack of strength and flexibility are among the leading causes of knee injuries and joint pain. Tight or weak muscles offer less support for your knee because they do not absorb enough of the stress exerted on the joint.  Those who play certain sports, such as skiing, basketball and running, may be putting strains and stress on their joints, specifically their knees. Lastly, if someone has had a previous injury, they have a higher risk of injuring his or her joint again.


How to Manage Joint Pain. 

Both of these forms of joint pain are considered as a chronic condition and nothing can completely eliminate the joint pain. However, there are ways to manage the pain. It may be helpful to:

•Use topical pain relievers

•Take NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to reduce the pain, swelling and inflammation

•Stay physically active and follow a fitness program focusing on moderate exercise

•Stretch prior to exercising to maintain a good range of motion in your joints

•Keep your body weight within a healthy range, which will lessen stress on the joints


If your pain is not caused by arthritis, you may try general pain relief measures, which include taking a warm bath, stretch frequently, get a massage, get adequate rest or take nonprescription anti-inflammatory medicine. In some cases, your joint pain will require you to see a doctor. You should make an appointment if:

•You do not know the cause of your joint pain and are experiencing other unexplained symptoms

•The area around the joint is swollen, red, tender or warm to the touch

•The pain persists for three days or more

•You have a fever but no signs of the flu


Protect Your Joints. 

If you have discomfort in your joints and want to take control over the pain yourself, there are ways to do so.

•First, you should choose the strongest joint available for the job. For example, carry objects with your palm open, distributing the weight equally over your forearm.

•Slide objects along a counter or workbench rather than lifting them. Use your thigh muscles to rise from a chair instead of pushing off with your hands.

•Another way to protect your joints is to use good body mechanics. If you position yourself correctly and use the muscles best suited to a physically demanding task, you can minimize the stress on your joints. For example, carry heavy objects close to your chest, supporting the weight on your forearms.

•If you arrange your work area wisely you can help release tension or stress on your joints.

•Make sure while you are sitting you have hood back and foot support.

•If you are typing on a keyboard for long periods and your chair does not have arms consider using a wrist or forearm support.

•If you stand while working make sure the work surface enables you to work comfortable without stooping.  

There are many ways to protect you from joint pain. You must take precautions and be aware of how you are using your body. You should learn ways to help alleviate stress on your joints and follow through with those instructions daily, before your pain worsens.



Are Your Supplements Screwing With Your Meds?


Taking vitamins or other dietary supplements along with medication can be dangerous, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.

Dietary supplements can alter the absorption and metabolism of prescription and over-the-counter medications, the FDA said.

“Some dietary supplements may increase the effect of your medication, and other dietary supplements may decrease it,” Robert Mozersky, a medical officer at the FDA, explained in an agency news release.

For example, the supplement St. John’s Wort can make birth control pills less effective, the FDA reported. Both the herbal supplement ginkgo biloba and vitamin E can thin blood. Mixing either supplement with the prescription blood thinner warfarin or aspirin could increase the risk of internal bleeding or stroke, the report said.

Dietary supplements are widely used in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that roughly 72 million people in the United States who are on a prescription medication also took some type of dietary supplement.

Although many people take supplements to make sure they get proper nutrition, the FDA said there is no substitute for eating a healthy diet, and products labeled as “natural” or “herbal” are not necessarily harmless.

“Natural does not always mean safe,” Mozersky said. This is particularly true for children, he added.

“Parents should know that children’s metabolisms are so unique, that at different ages they metabolize substances at different rates. For kids, ingesting dietary supplements together with other medications make adverse events a real possibility,” Mozersky explained.

People planning to have surgery should inform their doctor of every medication and supplement they use. It may be necessary to stop taking supplements a few weeks before an operation to avoid potentially serious changes in heart rate, blood pressure or bleeding risk, the FDA said.

Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should also talk to their doctor about any supplements they take.

“The bottom line is, before you take any dietary supplement or medication — over-the-counter or prescription — discuss it with your health care professional,” Mozersky said. The FDA added the following tips for consumers:

  • Every time you visit the doctor, bring a list of all the dietary supplements and medications you take. This list should include dosages and frequency.
  • Tell your doctor if your health has changed, including any recent illnesses, surgeries or other procedures. You should also tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

SOURCE: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news release, Oct. 27, 2014

Kick the butt to avoid chronic back pain


Smokers are three times more likely than non-smokers to develop chronic back pain, warns a research.

“Smoking affects the brain. We found that it affects the way the brain responds to back pain and seems to make individuals less resilient to an episode of pain,” said Bogdan Petre, technical scientist at the Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in the US.

The results came from an observational study of 160 adults, with new cases of back pain.

They were asked to rate the intensity of their back pain in a questionnaire that also asked about their smoking status.

Scientists analysed MRI activity between two brain areas, which are involved in addictive behaviour and motivated learning.

These two regions of the brain “talk” to one another and scientists discovered that the strength of that connection helps determine who will become a chronic pain patient.

This connection was very strong and active in the brain’s of smokers.

“But we saw a dramatic drop in this circuit’s activity in smokers who – of their own will – quit smoking during the study. When they stopped smoking, their vulnerably to chronic pain also decreased,” Petre added.

Medication such as anti-inflammatory drugs did help participants manage pain but it did not change the activity of the brain circuit.

Kicking the butt is the only solution if smokers want to get rid of back pain, the authors concluded.

The study was published online in the journal Human Brain Mapping 


India Asks Pepsi to Cut Down Sugar in Sodas

India has asked US soft drinks giant PepsiCo to reduce the sugar content of its sodas as the country battles growing levels of obesity and diabetes.

PepsiCo chairman Indra Nooyi met Food Processing Industry Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal during a visit to India on Tuesday to discuss its plans for healthier options and investing in India.

“PepsiCo has been requested to further bring down the sugar content of soft drinks so that the health aspects of such products are duly taken care of,” the ministry said in a statement after the meeting.

PepsiCo was not immediately available for comment when contacted by news agency AFP on Wednesday.

Soft drinks and fast food consumption has increased among the Indian middle class as incomes have risen, leading to a rise in obesity and diabetes levels.

The soft drinks giant has been replacing some of the sugar in its fizzy drinks with stevia, a natural sweetener which is widely used in Europe and parts of Asia.

But it has not been able to do so in India because the substance has not been approved for consumption.

Pepsi entered the country as it opened to foreign companies over two decades ago.

It currently has 38 bottling plants and three food plants in India.

The soft drinks giant, which markets 7Up, Mirinda and Mountain Dew as well as Pepsi in India, plans to more than double its production capacity in the country by 2020 along with its bottling partners.

Ms Nooyi has said PepsiCo, the world’s second-largest beverage firm, aims to double its investment in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Last year, she announced the company would invest $5.5 billion or Rs. 33,000 crore ($1= Rs60) in India by 2020.

Source: NDTV

India’s consumption of soft drinks remains low relative to its Asian neighbours, making the market particularly attractive.

Tea contains harmful pesticide residues: Study


A study undertaken by environmental NGO Greenpeace over a year has allegedly found the presence of harmful pesticide residues including toxic dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT) in tea sold by leading brands across India.

“We had carried out a study across many cities in India over the past one year to check the quality of tea leaves sold in cities. Our study has revealed the presence of residues of chemical pesticides in a majority of brands,” Neha Sehgal, senior campaigner of Greenpeace told reporters in Mumbai.

She claimed that out of 49 samples tested by the non-profit organisation, around 34 (94%) contained residues of at least one pesticide and 29 (59%) of the samples contained a cocktail of more than 10 different pesticides in them.

Also 29 (59%) of the samples contained residues of of at least one pesticide above the maximum residue limits set by the European Union (EU).

“We had, for this study collected samples from different retailers from cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and Mumbai over a period from June 2013 to May 2014,” she said.

Sehgal said there was a presence of DDT (a synthetic organic compound used as a pesticide) in 67% of the tea samples.

“Use of DDT has been banned in India since 1989.

Monocrotophos, termed as hazardous by the WHO was found in 27 samples. Tebufenpyrad, a pesticide not registered in India, and thus illegal was found in one sample. It can be very toxic for the liver,” she said.

Sehgal urged tea companies to move the tea sector away from the “pesticide treadmill” and asked them to adopt an ecological agriculture farming approach.

“The tea companies need to support adoption of ecological agriculture approaches like Non Pesticidal Management for the safety of consumers,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Tea Board of India has trashed the report of Greenpeace and said that tea leaves are “totally safe” and are sold only after going through stringent quality tests.

“The Tea Board of India would like to dispel any misconceptions about Indian tea in the eyes of consumers at large,” it said in a release issued in Mumbai on Tuesday.

The Indian tea industry led by the Tea Board of India has been constantly taking steps to make tea cultivation even more sustainable and reduce reliance on synthetic plant protection products to ensure that Indian tea continues to meet the high standards consumers expect,” it added.



Cow’s milk may cure stomach cancers

MilkandCowsIn some good news for milk lovers, a peptide derived from cow’s milk has been found to be a potent killer of the human stomach cancer cells, scientists claim.

New research from researchers in Taiwan indicates that a peptide fragment derived from cow’s milk, known as lactoferricin B25 (LFcinB25), exhibited powerful anticancer capability against human stomach cancer cell cultures.

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Breast-Fed Baby May Become Higher-IQ Child


Mothers can add higher child IQ to the list of benefits associated with breast-feeding: New research shows that the longer a new mom breast-feeds up to one year, the greater the benefit on her baby’s intelligence.

Babies who were breast-fed for the first year of life gained 4 points on their IQ, compared with babies who were not breast-fed for as long, according to the findings, published online July 29 in JAMA Pediatrics. These children were better able to understand what others were telling them (receptive language) at 3 years and had higher verbal and nonverbal intelligence at 7 years.

“These findings support national and international recommendations to promote exclusive breast-feeding through age 6 months and continuation of breast-feeding through at least age 1 year,” the study authors concluded.

For the study, researchers led by Dr. Mandy Belfort, of Boston Children’s Hospital, followed more than 1,300 mothers and their children. Moms were asked about breast-feeding at 6 and 12 months. Children completed standard intelligence tests at age 3 years and 7 years. Breast-fed babies scored higher on these tests even when researchers controlled for other factors that may affect a child’s IQ such as the mom’s intelligence.

Belfort’s team also looked at whether fish intake while breast-feeding had any bearing on childhood intelligence, but it did not seem to have a major effect. Some research had suggested that omega-3 fatty acids in fish may be important for infant brain development.

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at the Seattle Children’s Hospital, said the new findings may motivate more women to breast-feed for longer periods of time. “There are some benefits of breast-feeding that have been very clearly shown,” he said. These include reduced risk of diarrhea, ear infections and eczema, a skin condition.

“The issue of the link between breast-feeding and intelligence has been hotly debated for a long time, and the promise of cognitive ability, educational achievement and what it may lead to may encourage more women to breast-feed,” he said.

“Four points at a population level means a lot,” said Christakis, who also wrote an editorial accompanying the new study. “The problem in the U.S. is not so much that women don’t start breast-feeding, it’s that they don’t sustain it,” he said. Some go back to work after three months and may not want to breast-feed in public.

“It’s time to start making it easier and more acceptable for women to breast-feed for longer,” Christakis added. Among other things, this includes baby-friendly workplaces and taking steps to make sure breast pumps are covered by insurance.

Other experts also voiced support for continued breast-feeding.

“This new study indicates that independent of maternal intelligence and home environment that breast-feeding improves or increases a child’s IQ,” said Dr. Gail Herrine, an obstetrician at Temple University Health System in Philadelphia. When it comes to breast-feeding, “more is certainly better depending on the mother’s ability to continue,” she said.

But other factors contribute to a child’s intelligence, Herrine added.

Some women may have a harder time breast-feeding than others, and support is available, said Judy Fayre, a lactation consultant at Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport, Mass. “If a new mother thinks she is unable to breast-feed, speak to a lactation consultant or join a support group before giving up.”



Mefloquine Hydrochloride: Drug Safety Communication


FDA is advising the public about strengthened and updated warnings regarding neurologic and psychiatric side effects associated with the antimalarial drug mefloquine hydrochloride. A boxed warning, the most serious kind of warning about these potential problems, has been added to the drug label. FDA has revised the patient Medication Guide dispensed with each prescription and wallet card to include this information and the possibility that the neurologic side effects may persist or become permanent. The neurologic side effects can include dizziness, loss of balance, or ringing in the ears. The psychiatric side effects can include feeling anxious, mistrustful, depressed, or having hallucinations.

Neurologic side effects can occur at any time during drug use, and can last for months to years after the drug is stopped or can be permanent.

 Mefloquine hydrochloride is indicated for the treatment of mild to moderate acute malaria caused by mefloquine-susceptible P. falciparum and P. vivax, and prevention of malaria infections by P. falciparum (including chloroquine-resistant P. falciparum) and P. vivax.

 RECOMMENDATION: Patients, caregivers, and doctors should watch for these side effects. When using the drug to prevent malaria, if a patient develops neurologic or psychiatric symptoms, mefloquine should be stopped, and an alternate medicine should be used.  If a patient develops neurologic or psychiatric symptoms while on mefloquine, the patient should contact the prescribing doctor. The patient should not stop taking mefloquine before discussing symptoms with the doctor.

Source: Drug Safety Communication – FDA