This Issue

Exercise key
to slowing common painful condition

With more options today, surgery not the only recourse

Best remedy for osteoarthritis? Get up and go

Q & A

A closer look

Signs and Symptoms

• Pain during or after joint movement

• Limited range of motion or flexibility

• Cracking noise during joint movement

• Stiffness, especially after long periods of inactivity
• Swelling or tenderness in afflicted joints

• Bone spurs — extra pieces of bone that form around affected joint

• Muscle weakness

• Joint deformity

Signs and Symptoms

Risk Factors

A lifeline

The umbilical cord is the baby’s lifeline, but once clamped and cut after the baby is born, it can be the lifeline for someone else. Cord blood — once considered medical waste — is rich in stem cells, which can be used in transplants. But time is limited. You have to complete enrollment to donate cord blood by the end of the 32nd or 34th week of pregnancy depending on the blood bank used.

• Call the Be The Match Registry at 800-507-5427 to find out which hospitals in your state participate.

In Massachusetts, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center take part.

• If your hospital is not listed you can still donate. Contact the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank at 919-668-2071 or Lifeforce Cryobanks at 800-869-8608

There is no cost to you and no harm to you or the baby.
If you don’t donate, the blood is thrown away.
A closer look

KNEES are commonly afflicted by osteoarthritis causing pain, stiffness and difficulty in walking and performing normal day-to-day activities. The cartilage, a smooth tissue covering the surface of joints, begins to wear away, which can lead to bone rubbing against bone, muscle weakness and malalignment of the knee.

Copyright 2011 American College of Rheumatology

THE HAND is another common site of osteoarthritis. Bony prominences called Heberden’s nodes may develop near the joint closest to the nail, while Bouchard’s nodes are bony enlargements of the middle joints. Heberden’s nodes are more common in women and may have a genetic link.

A weighty situation

Relief from pain

Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities
2011 National Minority Cancer Awareness

April 17 - April 23

Boston Public Library Cancer
Awareness Display

• Codman Square Branch Library
690 Washington Street

• Mattapan Branch Library
1350 Blue Hill Avenue

• Brighton Branch Library
40 Academy Hill Road

April 28: 12 - 1 p.m.

Secondhand Smoke Exposure
Harvard Street Neighborhood
Health Center
632 Blue Hill Avenue

May 16: 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Skin Cancer Prevention
Roxbury YMCA
285 Martin Luther King Boulevard

April 21:
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Reducing Cancer Disparities & Promoting Health Equity Among Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Populations
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Riesman Lecture Hall, 330 Brookline Avenue

Registration is required:

All events are open to the public
For any additional information contact
Athene Wilson Glover at 617-632-4860

Another good reason to visit the dentist

“All you have to do is open your mouth.”

— The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance

The oral cancer examination is painless and quick … and life-saving. When cancers of the head and neck are found early, the cure rate is high. Annual screenings by a doctor or dentist should be a part of your regular physical or dental checkup. The provider:

• Inspects your face, neck, lips and mouth.

• Feels the area under your jaw and the sides of your neck, checking for unusual lumps.

• Asks you to stick out your tongue to check for swelling, color and texture.

• Using gauze, lifts your tongue and pulls it from one side, then the other.

• Checks the roof and floor of your mouth and the back of your throat.

• Feels and examines the insides of your lips and cheeks for red or white patches.

• Places one finger on the floor of your mouth and, with the other hand under your chin, presses down to check for unusual lumps or sensitivity.

Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

Oral, Head and Neck Cancer
Awareness Week is May 8 – 14.

Photo by Vannessa Carrington/Mass. Eye and Ear

Get screened for head and neck
cancer. It’s free, quick and painless.

Boston Medical Center
Moakley Building Lobby
830 Harrison Avenue
Date: April 2
Time: 8 a.m. - noon

Tufts Medical Center
860 Washington Street
Date: May 12
Time: 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Mass Eye and Ear
243 Charles Street
Date: May 13
Time: TBA
Dedham Family Dental
Dr. Helaine Smith
30 Milton Street, Dedham
Date: May 11
Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Mass General Hospital
Voice Center

One Bowdoin Square,
11th Floor
Date: May 13
Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Remember to call ahead to confirm
time and date
of screenings.

View the full issue

Quick Links
[x close]

[ Printable View ]

Risk Factors

• Age — the incidence increases with age

• Gender — women are afflicted more than men after age 45

• Continued overuse of or trauma to joints

• Overweight and obesity

• Fractures and other joint injuries or infections

• Congenital defect or weakness in a joint

• Occupations that include tasks that place repetitive stress on a particular joint

• Other types of arthritis, such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis

• A genetic defect in joint cartilage

Best remedy for osteoarthritis?
Get up and go

Photo courtesy of Arthritis Foundation
More than one in five American adults has a form of arthritis, a condition that causes painful joints. Once called rheumatism, this collection of ailments includes osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout. It is the most common cause of disability in the United States.

“Arthritis affects more than 4.6 million African Americans and 3 million Hispanics and Latinos,” says Dr. Jan Cook, medical director of Innovation & Leadership at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. “And, unfortunately, African Americans and Hispanics are almost twice as likely as Caucasians to report experiencing work limitations and severe pain.”

The news is not all bad. Simple activities can help ease arthritis pain. Gentle forms of exercise like walking, dancing, stretching, water aerobics, yoga and tai chi can actually delay disabilities linked to arthritis as well. And finding comfortable ways to be active may let you reclaim some abilities lost to arthritis while strengthening muscles that help support joints and boosting your overall well-being, mood and joy in life.

Weight, health and exercise

Controlling your weight is important if you have arthritis. It can help prevent, or at least slow, the progression of osteoarthritis in knee and hip joints. A healthy weight helps ease rheumatoid arthritis, too.

Why should weight matter? As you walk, experts estimate that the amount of force on weight-bearing joints like your knees is three to six times your total weight. According to the Arthritis Foundation, every pound lost takes away 4 pounds of pressure on the knee. That benefits anyone, but especially people with tender, arthritic joints. One study showed losing 15 pounds of excess weight cut knee pain from osteoarthritis in half. Other research found that women who lost 11 pounds lowered their risk for developing osteoarthritis by 50 percent.

Exercise is essential because it helps people control weight, ease pain and possibly limit disabilities. Arthritis can complicate other ailments, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, by making it harder to exercise. Regular exercise helps people prevent or manage these illnesses, while staying more independent and able to handle every-day tasks.

Starting an exercise program

Photo courtesy of Mindfulbody T’ai Chi
Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourage people with arthritis to accumulate 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) or more of moderate, low-impact aerobic activities like walking, cycling, dancing or water aerobics each week. Muscle-strengthening exercises, such as workouts with resistance bands or weights, are suggested twice weekly. Balance exercises like standing on one foot or practicing tai chi are recommended for people at risk for falls, too.

If this seems like far too much right now, don’t worry. Start small, say CDC experts: just do 3 to 5 minutes of activities, two times a day. Build up slowly, giving your body a chance to adjust before adding more active time.

Before starting any new exercise program, discuss it with your doctor. He or she can help you set limits and recommend the right mix of activities, rest, joint protection and pain relief strategies based on your overall health and type of arthritis. If necessary, your doctor can refer you for physical therapy, too.

Keep these tips in mind:

• Guidance from experienced exercise professionals helps. The Arthritis Foundation offers joint-safe exercise programs taught by certified instructors (see to learn if there is a class near you). Local community centers, hospitals or health centers may have similar classes, too.

• Start slowly and step up activity gradually. Any activity is better than none. But if you do too much, your muscles and joints are likely to hurt in the next few days, which could discourage you from exercising again. So go slowly and let your body adjust to increased activity.

•Stick with moderate activity (see sidebar) unless your doctor advises otherwise. You should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising.

• Short bouts of activity are fine. Work toward making sessions at least 10 minutes long. Three 10-minute bouts a day add up to 30 minutes.

• A warm shower and pain medication before exercise may be helpful. Afterward, cold packs may help. Talk to your doctor about this.

• Warm up before exercise and cool down properly afterward. Gentle stretches make a great cool-down while extending your range of motion.

During and after exercise, it’s normal to feel some soreness or aching in joints and nearby muscles. It’s especially common in the first four to six weeks of a new exercise program. If necessary, slow down: exercise fewer days a week or for shorter periods of time until discomfort improves. Ultimately, most people find that sticking with a regular exercise program offers significant pain relief.

The CDC recommends checking with your doctor if:

• Pain is sharp, stabbing and constant

• Pain makes you limp

• Pain lasts longer than two hours after activity or worsens at night

• Pain fails to respond to rest, medication or hot or cold packs

• A lot of swelling occurs or joints feel hot or appear reddened