Younger Gout Patients Have Higher Odds for Blood Clots

Younger Gout Patients Have Higher Odds for Blood Clots

MONDAY, June 3, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Older age raises the odds of many ills, but for adults with gout, it’s the younger ones who have the highest risk for developing a serious blood clot, new research indicates.

Gout patients of any age have a 25% greater risk of developing a blood clot deep in the veins in the first 10 years after diagnosis, the British study found.

But “the risk was 79% higher in gout patients, compared to those without gout, in the under-50 age group,” explained study lead author Alyshah Abdul Sultan.

Gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis, affecting more than 4% of U.S. adults, according to the Arthritis Foundation. It develops in people who have high levels of uric acid in the blood. The acid can cause painful crystals to form in the joints.

In this study, researchers compared roughly 62,000 gout patients with an equal number of gout-free adults. The investigators found that the raised blood clot risk was largely confined to gout patients under the age of 50.

“We did not observe much higher risk in the older population,” added Sultan, a fellow at Keele University’s arthritis research center in Staffordshire, England. But, he noted, because blood clot risk increases with age regardless of gout status, “it may have obscured the effect of gout in the older population.”

Blood clot risk rose, said Sultan, whether or not younger patients had their gout under control by means of standard uric-acid lowering medications, such as allopurinol (Zyloprim). Such drugs can dramatically lower the incidence of painful gout attacks, by tamping down the abnormally high uric acid concentrations.

Still, Sultan and other experts stressed that the bottom-line risk for developing a blood clot remains low for someone with gout. This suggests that proactive treatment to reduce clot risk might not be necessary.

According to Dr. Gregg Fonarow, “The overall risk was modest in absolute terms.” Fonarow is co-director of the preventative cardiology program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“As the absolute increased risk is small, the presence of gout alone would not warrant use of anticoagulation [blood-thinning] therapy,” Fonarow said.

Sultan said the study findings were “not very surprising, as we already know that chronic inflammation increases the risk of blood clots through various mechanisms. Previous research has already highlighted rheumatological conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, as important risk factors for blood clots,” he noted.

Still, while blood clot risk may not be sufficient to warrant preventive intervention on its own, he said there may be need for clinical vigilance, particularly in younger adults with newly diagnosed gout.

For the study, the researchers reviewed primary care information collected by the England-based Clinical Practice Research Datalink.

The investigators first identified patients diagnosed with gout between 1998 and 2017, and matched them with roughly the same number of gout-free adults.

The team concluded that clot risk rose significantly among gout patients under 50 in the decade following diagnosis. Also, risk appeared to rise equally among males and females, and whether or not they took allopurinol.

“However, the results of our analysis of urate-lowering therapy may be generalizable only to those prescribed 300 milligrams of allopurinol or less, a dose level widely used in U.K. primary care,” Sultan noted.

Research is needed to determine the impact, if any, of higher doses, he added.

As to why gout might lead to a higher clot risk, Sultan said the risk association may be due to various inflammatory pathways. Although this process isn’t fully understood, he noted that uric acid “can initiate, amplify and sustain inflammatory response.”

However, Fonarow said many factors can drive up clot risk. These include a history of smoking, obesity and use of estrogen. People who are immobile or undergoing surgery are also at elevated risk of venous blood clots.

The report was published in the June 3 issue of CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

More information

For more about blood clot risk, visit the American Society of Hematology.

SOURCES: Alyshah Abdul Sultan, research fellow, epidemiology and applied statistics, Arthritis Research U.K. Primary Care Centre Research Institute for Primary Care & Health Sciences, Keele University, Staffordshire, U.K.; Gregg Fonarow, M.D., director, Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center, and co-director, preventative cardiology program, University of California, Los Angeles; June 3, 2019, CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)Copyright ©2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Too Much or Too Little Weight May Worsen Rheumatoid Arthritis

Too Much or Too Little Weight May Worsen Rheumatoid Arthritis

Obesity may accelerate and amplify the crippling symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, new research suggests.

Conversely, the researchers also found that unexplained weight loss might also signal problems for these patients, because it could mean that they’re at greater risk for disability.

“While patients and rheumatologists may be focused mostly on disease activity, we should also consider this common condition [obesity], which can contribute to problems that are usually attributed to the arthritis itself,” said study author Dr. Joshua Baker.

“In addition, unintentional weight loss should alert us that the patient may be becoming frail and is at risk for developing new disability,” he added. Baker is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. It develops when immune cells that normally fight germs attack the lining of the joints, or cartilage. This causes the joints to swell and the surrounding bones, ligaments and muscles to gradually erode. Rheumatoid arthritis worsens over time, often leading to disability.

For the study, Baker and his colleagues looked at the effects of obesity on the progression of rheumatoid arthritis in just over 25,000 people with the disease.

The investigators found that the disease advanced more quickly among those who were very obese. This was true regardless of the level of inflammation in their joints.

In addition, people who were thin but lost weight without trying also became disabled more quickly.

The study was published April 30 in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

“So, this study suggests that patients with rheumatoid arthritis and obesity would benefit from intentional weight loss through a comprehensive management strategy,” Baker said in a journal news release.”

“However, when we see that someone is losing weight without trying, it’s probably a poor prognostic sign, especially if they are already thin,” he added.

Although the study could not prove a cause-and-effect link, the researchers suggested that new treatments and strategies to help people maintain a healthy weight might help prevent disability among people with rheumatoid arthritis.

And, Baker’s team noted, the findings could help doctors recognize signs of frailty among their rheumatoid arthritis patients who may benefit from strength training and physical therapy.

More information

The Arthritis Foundation has more about obesity and rheumatoid arthritis.

SOURCE: Arthritis Care & Research, news release, April 30, 2018

What Is a Cortisone Shot?

What Is a Cortisone Shot?

Cortisone shots can potentially provide long-lasting relief from pain and inflammation in the joints.

Many injections can greatly reduce pain and inflammation caused by musculoskeletal injuries or chronic conditions such as arthritis, significantly shortening recovery timelines and providing lasting relief. One shot we particularly recommend to patients entails an injection of cortisone into a damaged joint. We’ll tell you what you need to know about this tried-and-true treatment for pain and inflammation in the joints.

What Is a Cortisone Shot?

A cortisone shot is an injection composed of a corticosteroid medication and a local anesthetic. Used to relieve pain and inflammation, it’s most commonly injected into a joint, often in the shoulder, hip, or knee. These shots are often one option in a comprehensive treatment plan for chronic inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, tendinitis, or rotator cuff impingements or tears.

How Long Does a Cortisone Shot Last?

A cortisone shot’s effectiveness depends on the severity of the patient’s condition. In most cases, pain and inflammation will marginally increase for about 48 hours following the injection, and will decrease precipitously thereafter. In some cases, a single injection can provide relief for as long as several months.

Generally, cortisone shots should only be given two times per joint per year. Repeated cortisone injections can damage the cartilage in the joint.

What Are the Side Effects of a Cortisone Shot?

Cortisone shots are typically safe in moderation, but since they infrequently lead to serious complications, they should be taken under a doctor’s supervision. Be sure to let your doctor know if you suffer from diabetes or other any other conditions affecting your blood sugar levels, as well as any medications that you are currently taking.

Most cortisone shots have some minor side effects, including a temporary uptick in pain and inflammation in and around the joint, and a thinning and lightening of the skin around the site of the injection. In some cases, however, they can result in a sudden spike in blood sugar if you’re diabetic and have poorly controlled blood sugar levels. .

What If the Cortisone Shot Doesn’t Work?

Cortisone shots provide a source of temporary relief from inflammation and pain. They will not solve the underlying problem, and pain may gradually return as the shot’s effectiveness subsides. As a result, cortisone shots should be administered as part of a more comprehensive treatment plan that may include physical therapy or surgery.

Fortunately, our team of orthopedic specialists at Comprehensive Orthopaedics has several years of experience in treating joint problems. Regardless of your specific condition, we’ll work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that provides lasting relief from your symptoms.

Arthritis Diagnosis

Arthritis Diagnosis

Diagnosing arthritis may be difficult. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Many symptoms are similar among the different conditions affecting the joints. Arthritis may be generally categorized into the following groups: degenerative arthritis, inflammatory arthritis, metabolic arthritis, and infectious arthritis. Osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative arthritis) is the most common type. Rheumatoid arthritis and gout are two other more common types. To make an accurate diagnosis, a healthcare provider may need to:

  • Review your medical history and current symptoms.
  • Examine you, paying close attention to your joints.
  • Order laboratory tests, X-rays, and other imaging tests (such as an ultrasound or MRI).
  • Perform an arthrocentesis (the procedure of removing fluid from a joint).

What is involved in reviewing your medical history and your current symptoms?

When reviewing your medical history, your healthcare provider may ask the following questions:

  • Have you had any illnesses or injuries that may explain the pain?
  • Is there a family history of arthritis or other rheumatic diseases?
  • What medication(s) are you currently taking?

Your healthcare provider may also ask:

  • What symptoms are you having? For example, pain, stiffness, difficulty with movement, or swelling.
  • About your pain:
    • Where is it?
    • How long have you had it?
    • When do you have pain and how long does it last?
    • Describe your pain. (Constant, dull, throbbing, stabbing)
    • How intense is it? (on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being no pain, and 10, the worst pain)
    • What lessons the pain?
    • What makes it worse?

What is involved in laboratory testing?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, the following are common laboratory tests:

  • Antinuclear antibody. This test measures blood levels of various antibodies, which may be present in persons with some types of arthritis.
  • Arthrocentesis (also called joint aspiration). This is an exam of joint fluid. A thin needle is inserted into the joint. Synovial fluid is removed with a syringe and examined for cell counts, crystal analysis, culture, and other tests.
  • Complement tests. This test measures the level of complement, a group of proteins in the blood. It is used to help diagnose and monitor systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Complete blood count. Measures the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets present in a sample of blood. A low white blood count (leukopenia), low red blood count (anemia), or low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) are associated with some forms of arthritis or the medications to treat them.
  • Creatinine. A blood test to monitor for underlying kidney disease.
  • C-reactive protein. This is a protein that is elevated when there is inflammation in the body as in some types of arthritis.
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (also called ESR or sed rate). This measures how quickly red blood cells fall to the bottom of a test tube. It is also elevated when there is inflammation in the body. This occurs in some types of arthritis.
  • Hematocrit (PCV, packed cell volume). Measures the number of red blood cells present in a sample of blood. Low levels of red blood cells (anemia) are common in people with some types of arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid factor. Checks for an antibody that is present in most people with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Urinalysis. Laboratory examination of urine to check for kidney disease that may be associated with several types of arthritis.
  • Uric acid. It is elevated in gout.

What imaging techniques may be used to diagnose arthritis?

Imaging techniques may give your healthcare provider a clearer picture of what is happening to your joint(s). Imaging techniques may include the following:

  • X-ray. X-rays may show joint changes and bone damage found in some types of arthritis. Other imaging tests may also be done.
  • Ultrasound. Ultrasound uses sound waves (not radiation) to see the quality of synovial tissue, tendons, ligaments, and bones.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI images are more detailed than X-rays. They may show damage to joints, including muscles, ligaments, and cartilage.
  • Arthroscopy. This procedure uses a thin tube containing a light and camera (arthroscope) to look inside the joint. The arthroscope is inserted into the joint through a small incision. Images of the inside of the joint are projected onto a screen. It is used to evaluate any degenerative and/or arthritic changes in the joint; to detect bone diseases and tumors; to determine the cause of bone pain and inflammation, and to treat certain conditions.
Joints Achy? New Study Says Don’t Blame Mother Nature

Joints Achy? New Study Says Don’t Blame Mother Nature

TUESDAY, Jan. 10, 2017 (HealthDay News) — You might want to think twice the next time you’re ready to blame the weather for your aches and pains, researchers say.

Some people swear that changes in humidity, temperature, air pressure and the like trigger back pain and arthritis. But a team at the George Institute for Global Health in Newtown, Australia said it found no evidence to support that theory.

“The belief that pain and inclement weather are linked dates back to Roman times. But our research suggests this belief may be based on the fact that people recall events that confirm their pre-existing views,” said Chris Maher, director of the institute’s musculoskeletal division.

The study included nearly 1,350 Australians with either lower back pain or osteoarthritis of the knee. The study participants’ pain flare-ups were compared with weather data.

There was no association between back pain/knee arthritis and temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction or precipitation, the investigators found.

“Human beings are very susceptible so it’s easy to see why we might only take note of pain on the days when it’s cold and rainy outside, but discount the days when they have symptoms but the weather is mild and sunny,” Maher explained in an institute news release.

Maher is also a professor of physiotherapy at the University of Sydney.

Back pain affects up to one-third of people worldwide at any one time. Nearly 10 percent of men and 18 percent of women over the age of 60 have osteoarthritis, the study authors said in background notes.

Manuela Ferreira, an associate professor of medicine who led the osteoarthritis research, said, “People who suffer from either of these conditions should not focus on the weather as it does not have an important influence on your symptoms and it is outside your control.

“What’s more important is to focus on things you can control in regards to managing pain and prevention,” he concluded.

Ferreira is a senior research fellow at the George Institute and the Institute of Bone and Joint Research at the University of Sydney.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more on back pain.

SOURCE: George Institute for Global Health, news release, Jan. 10, 2017

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