No cure for arthritis, only symptomatic treatment:
Never put off treatment!
It is often misunderstood as a condition. In fact arthritis is a
symptom indicative of other diseases. Arthritis is an inflammation of
joints. The major complaint by patients suffering from arthritis is
pain. Swelling around the joint, increased temperature and pain on
movement of the joint are few of the other symptoms.
“Just pain around the joint does not mean that one has arthritis”
said Dr. Lilani Weerasekara, Consultant rheumatologist, National
Hospital. She explained that this could indicate problems in tissue
around the joint like muscles, tendons and joint capsules.
Although there are over 100 different forms of arthritis the most
common forms include osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease),
rheumatoid arthritis and viral arthritis. Less common forms include
rheumatic fever, gout, septic arthritis and seronegative
spondyloarthritis. The types of arthritis depend on different age
groups, said Dr. Weerasekara.
“Osteoarthritis occurs in old age due to wear and tear of the
cartilage of the weight wearing joints like knee and hip,” she said.
Its clinical features include pain, stiffness of joints (initially
the first few steps after getting up from a seated position) but eases
as they keep walking. Pain usually occurs on standing for long hours or
trying to get up from a low seated position.
As the condition progresses pain persists as well as difficulty in
climbing stairs and also walking. Swelling of joints due to effusion or
accumulation of fluid can also be observed.
Dr. Weerasekara explained that many factors other than age contribute
to this type of arthritis, such as over weight, standing for long hours,
climbing steps often and squatting. Secondary osteoarthritis sets in
case a joint is already damaged by way of injury, infection or other
types of inflammatory conditions.
Rheumatoid arthritis is common among women of child bearing age, but
could occur in children and older people. This type of arthritis affects
small joints of hands and knees. Other than the usual pain and swelling,
early morning stiffness of joints is a defining symptom.
“Stiffness usually lasts half hour to one hour and eases off during
the day”, said Dr. Weerasekara. Other symptoms include fever, loss of
weight, loss of appetite and fatigue.
A difficulty in moving joints and engaging in work can also be
observed in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, but even the
larger joints can get affected.
“If the condition is not treated early it could affect other systems
in the body like heart, lungs, eyes and the nervous system and cause
general ill health” explained Dr. Weerasekara.
Genetic and environmental factors such as bacteria and viral
infections play a huge role.
Dr. Weerasekara explained that following an infection the immune
system of a genetically predisposed person would be disturbed and
commences producing antibodies for one’s own tissue. “This is called
Viral arthritis is the next most common type of arthritis. This can
occur during viral infections and any joint can be affected. “It is very
acute in onset but settles in a matter of weeks.” But she explained that
certain categories can go on to chronic stage.
Dr. Weerasekara explained that there is no cure for arthritis, only
symptomatic treatment. She warned that if people who suffer from these
symptoms do not seek immediate medical attention it may be too late to
repair the damage.
Treatment for osteoarthritis includes pain relief through analgesics.
Dr. Weerasekara advised reducing body weight, regular exercise and
physiotherapy, avoid or minimise standing for long hours, climbing steps
“It is very important for patients with rheumatoid arthritic symptoms
to seek immediate medical treatment”, said Dr. Weerasekara. “The best
outcome can be achieved only if treatment is started as early as
possible.” Putting off treatment could lead to joint pain and ultimately
lead to joint deformities.
Apart from the standard anti-inflammatory drugs, disease modification
anti-rheumatic drugs, that delay the progress of the disease, and a
group of drugs referred to as ‘biologicals’ are used in the treatment of
Biologicals have been found to prevent most deformities and improve
quality of life. “But this type of drugs are used only on people who do
not respond to normal drugs”, said Dr. Weerasekara. “Patients with
rheumatoid arthritis have to be on long term treatment,” said Dr.
Weerasekara. She reiterated the importance of such patients seeing a
doctor at regular intervals.
She explained that patient’s response to treatment has to be
evaluated by a doctor regularly and changes to medication be made.
“Besides any drug could have side effects, these too have to be
monitored by a doctor.”
Depression may double dementia risk
Having depression may nearly double the risk of developing dementia
later in life, new research suggests.
Experts know that the two conditions often co-exist, but it is not
clear if one actually leads to the other.
Now two studies published in the American journal Neurology suggest
depression does mean dementia is more likely, although they do not show
And the researchers stress that the findings merely reveal a link,
not a direct cause.
They say more studies are needed to find out why the two conditions
They believe brain chemistry and lifestyle factors such as diet and
the amount of social time a person engages in may play a role.
Dr Jane Saczynski of the University of Massachusetts, who led the
first of the two studies, said: “While it’s unclear if depression causes
dementia, there are a number of ways depression might impact the risk of
What this study demonstrates is that depression at a younger age is
probably a significant risk factor for dementia
“Inflammation of brain tissue that occurs when a person is depressed
might contribute to dementia. Certain proteins found in the brain that
increase with depression may also increase the risk of developing
Her study, which followed 949 elderly people for 17 years, showed
dementia more often followed a bout of depression.
By the end of the study, 164 of the people had developed dementia.
Specifically, 22% of those who had depression went on to develop
dementia compared to 17% of those who did not have depression.
The second study, meanwhile, followed 1,239 US people and looked at
the number of times a person experienced depression related to their
risk of dementia.
It showed that the more times someone experienced depression, the
higher their dementia risk was.
Having two or more episodes of depression nearly doubled the risk of
Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust,
said: “Similarities in symptoms between dementia and depression can mean
the two are sometimes confused at time of diagnosis, but we don’t know
if they are biologically linked.
“These latest studies suggest that there may be profound connections
between dementia and depression so we must expand the research to find
Professor Clive Ballard of the Alzheimer’s Society agreed that more
research was now needed to establish why the link exists.
“It is well known depression is common in early stages of dementia.
What this study demonstrates is that depression at a younger age is
probably a significant risk factor for dementia,” he said
Olive Oil: helping in the fight against breast cancer
Something as simple as olive oil could actually make a difference
when predisposed to or fighting against breast cancer.
Components in this antioxidant monounsaturated fat actually attack
tumors, retarding their growth (even to the point of implosion) and can
protect DNA against harmful cancerous cells.
Researchers at the Universitat Autonoma in Barcelona conducted a
study utilising rats who had carcinogen-stimulated breast cancer.
The rats were fed one of three diets-olive oil, high corn oil, or
restricted. The scientists found that the tumors in rats who were on the
olive oil diet grew much more slowly that those who had either of the
The olive oil appears to prevent a genetic material that forces the
increase in breast tumors and can stop the proteins that cancerous cells
rely on to survive.
While initial tests have shown success only in rats, researcher Dr.
Eduard Escrich said, “Even though caution must be exercised when
applying experimental data to human breast cancer, our findings
emphasize the importance that certain dietetic habits may have on cancer
The conclusion of the researchers, who intend to conduct a similar
trial in humans, is that only continuous daily ingestion of olive oil
will provide these types of results. It is recommended that 10 teaspoons
of high-quality, extra virgin olive oil be added to the daily diet to
benefit Olive oil is part of a heart healthy Mediterranean diet.
This type of diet has been shown to lower the incidence of asthma and
allergies in children, lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, possibly
eliminate diabetes medication for Type II diabetics, and may lessen the
risk of cancer and depression.