Olympian speed skater Kristine Holzer had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since the young age of 13. Kristine wanted to remain active and chose to participate in low impact sports like rowing and speed skating. She was second place at the 1998 United States Senior National Team Trials. When she was did not get the spot to compete in the 1998 World Rowing Championships, she started her training to become a speed skater at the age of 24. She attended the 2006 Winter Olympic Games and earned 27th place in the 3000 meters and placed fifth place with team USA in the women’s Team Pursuit.
Olympian Kristin Armstrong was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in her hips in 2001 at age 28. She used cycling as a way to manage her arthritis and stay active with her arthritis. She accomplished her greatest athletic moments after her diagnosis, including three world championship medals and a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and 2012 Olympics in London.
Image courtesy of photostock/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
A recent study suggests that GPs should not rely on rheumatoid factor (RF) test to rule out arthritis. Though RF test results are used in referral decisions, RF antibodies are only present in 8 out of 10 patients with arthritis and may not always show up in the early stages of the disease. Researchers found that people who received false negative test results waited over six weeks longer before being referred to an arthritis specialist.
According to GP Online, the researchers of the study were from the Universities of Oxford and Bath. They looked at data from the GP records of 64,000 patients who were given the RF test between 2000 and 2008. Of the 1,800 diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis within two years, 800 showed a negative result on the RF test. Compared to those who had a positive test result in the RF test, patients with a negative result waited an average of 45 days more before referral.
In an interview with GP Online, Dr. Chris Deigton, president of the British Society for Rheumatology, cautions: “GPs should realize that the diagnosis of early inflammatory arthritis is largely a clinical one, relying on symptoms and signs of inflammation, rather than tests which may be misleading.”
Research has proved that starting aggressive treatment for inflammatory arthritis within the first three months of disease onset is the best way to prevent iriversible joint damage.
Current guidelines recommend that treatments should be started within 6 months, with 3 months begin the ideal “window of opportunity”. Eighty seven percent of the delay occurred before referral to a rheumatologist.
Numerous studies have shown that a class of arthritis medications called disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (also known as “DMARDs”), can help to prevent joint damage if taken within the first three months of disease onset.
Osteoporosis happens when bones become thin and fragile as a result of the loss of bone strength. The disease increases the risk of fractures in patients. A common cause of osteoporosis is age. Researchers now identify that younger patients are at risk of developing secondary osteoporosis due to direct and indirect relations with other medical problems, including chronic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and some of the medications used to treat RA. Both disease and/or medications can cause bone deterioration and interfere with the way the body naturally breaks down and rebuilds bone tissue. Furthermore, it can affect how the body absorbs calcium and Vitamin D – essential bone-building nutrients. Continue reading →
Just three days into the Paralympics and Canada have secured six medals! To congratulate Canada’s medals, we are continuing with the Arthritis Olympics Challenge. Today’s Arthritis Olympics Challenge: Go on a photo walk! To follow the Canadian Paralympic Team’s progress, please visit CBC’s Paralympics page here.
A small pleasure—when time permits—is reading a daily newspaper back to front, rather than my usual online skim and swipe. I had time during my winter retreat in Southwest Florida to enjoy the local newspaper although that was a quick read because the news coverage is far below “acceptable”. So I treat the newspaper as what it truly is: a great source for local events and activities, and I read it for its entertainment value.
I do read online versions of my favourite newspapers, although I confess that I still savour the touch and smell of newsprint on my fingers (print journalism background). I especially treasure the ability to leisurely peruse a complete newspaper without requiring a magnifying glass to enlarge the miniscule typefaces favoured by online publications. But, most importantly, a physical newspaper gives me the option to glance at the advertisements whereas online, I am distracted and annoyed by the constant bombardment and cascade of revolving screen ads.
Florida’s vocation as a haven for frozen north snowbirds (i.e. Canadians) of a certain age, means that baby boomers entering their “golden” years decamp here in droves, especially in view of this year’s harsh winter in eastern Canada. The reality is that this aging population needs healthcare services and there is an astounding plethora of medical specialists in Florida ready to attend to any type of ache, pain, infection, or disease.
Contrary to Canadian doctors, Floridian medical practitioners broadcast their specialties from the tops of the palm trees. Naturally, the newspapers are the happy recipients of millions in advertising dollars from the medical community. With an endless supply of aging boomers and the need to attract new clientele, Florida’s medical profession is sitting pretty. Interestingly, many of the newspaper ads relate to arthritis, especially remedies to treat deteriorating knee and hip joints, which are widely recognized as a leading problem among the older set. The local newspaper carries at least half a dozen ads every day about alternative treatment programs or surgical interventions to alleviate suffering (informal survey: joint implants lead the pack, followed by spinal issues. No mention of A.S.).
The weekend newspapers, in particular, explode with ads related to various public activities related to arthritis, including a speaker series where arthritic joints are the main topic, or book signings with authors who have a personal interest or experience with the disease. Some ads also discuss non-surgical procedures or alternative treatment programs related to dysfunctional joints (all accompanied by personal testimonials from satisfied patients). And, of course, there are a variety of ads offering wacky and wonderful home remedies for arthritis, such as apple cider vinegar.
Personally, I find it comforting to live in the midst of a population experiencing aging challenges, with arthritis a top concern. Instead of maligning the local paper as a poor source for news, I award it top marks for raising the public profile of arthritis and offering a multitude of solutions, however inane or impractical. ~Fran
Cheryl Koehn is the woman behind Arthritis Broadcast Network. She is a national arthritis advocate, a community leader and a published author. In November 2000, Cheryl founded Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) and its JointHealth™ family of programs.
As a 23-year survivor of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Cheryl brings the arthritis consumer’s perspective to ACE, and to decision-making processes at government, research institutions, not-for-profit and for-profit organizations across Canada and internationally. With her dedication, Cheryl developed the JointHealth™ Report Card and Medications Guide – an important tool and reference guide for industry partners, government officials, and people living with arthritis. Along with co-authors Dr. John Esdaile and Taysha Palmer, Cheryl Koehn authored Rheumatoid Arthritis: PLAN TO WIN, published by Oxford University Press and in bookstores in January 2002.
Cheryl’s recent activities include presenting at the Canadian Rheumatology Association 69th Annual Scientific Meeting & Arthritis Health Professions Association Meeting (CRA Meeting), meeting with government leaders, and providing support for research activities at the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada.
Dr. Linda Li - Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of British Columbia and Senior Research Scientist at the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada
Linda specializes in physical therapy and knowledge translation. Her most recent research project at the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada is “Arthritis Care in the Digital Age”. The study aims to understand how online physical activity monitoring tools may be used to support Canadians with arthritis in managing their disease.
Linda plays a crucial role in recognizing that being physically active can reduce pain, improve mobility and enhance quality of life. People with arthritis should not remain sedentary. She wants to make sure that people with arthritis have access to health professionals to learn how to stay active safely.
Cathy Hofstetter recently presented the patient’s perspective at a satellite symposium at the CRA Meeting. She captivated the audience with her biographical speech about living with rheumatoid arthritis and how the disease has impacted her life. Her speech touched the hearts of those who lives with arthritis by highlighting the moments leading to diagnosis, seeking medical help, managing the disease and disease-related side effects (both direct and indirect), adjusting her lifestyle to her RA and living better with her RA. Her speech encourages those who live with arthritis to speak out.