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Arthritis Due to Zika Virus 

Zika virus can present with a rash, headache, and light sensitivity. The virus also causes arthritis - worsening joint pain and swelling. Movement of the wrist, ankles and thumb joints can be quite painful. 

Zika gets its name from the Ugandan Zika forest, where the first case was identified in a primate in the 1940's. The first human infections were diagnosed in the mid-1950s. Now that we live in a globalized world where people can fly anywhere anytime, the disease has gone “viral” spreading to different parts of the world. Most likely someone with Zika boarded a plane and traveled to a place where an Aedes aegypti mosquito bit them. The mosquito then bit someone else transferring Zika virus in the bite. 

Once the mosquito bites someone, it takes 14 days before the mosquito can infect someone else.  Since the average life span of the mosquito is 30 days, it takes the mosquito half of its life to process the virus. Scientists are trying to figure out ways to counteract the spread of Zika by mosquito. Current efforts include genetic modification, focusing on breeding sterile mosquitoes and mosquitos with shortened life spans that cannot process and spread the virus. 

Until recently there was no test for Zika virus. Scientists are actively learning more about the Zika virus every day.  Initially scientists concluded that a person is only contagious while they are symptomatic. However, it was recently learned that 80% of carriers do not show symptoms. Furthermore, Zika can survive in semen and can be sexually transmitted to another person. Research is currently in progress to quickly learn as much as we can about this once unknown and “insignificant” virus. 

Until advances in research or other therapies develop to combat the Zika virus, there are some basic precautions to take when in Zika zones. When traveling to these areas, wear insect repellant, long sleeves, and long pants. Remove any standing water where the mosquitos like to breed including containers, bottles, and even bottle caps. Try to stay indoors in buildings with mosquito screens and air conditioning.  

Unfortunately, Florida leads the nation with 26 confirmed Zika virus infections in over 10 counties in Florida.

Posted by Rebecca Plante Tuesday, March 15, 2016 11:36:00 AM

Are You Still Using Ancient Medicine for Arthritis? 

Joint pain is an ancient disease. Dinosaur skeletons, cavemen remains, and ancient Egyptian mummies all have evidence of it. In 1886 an English doctor named John Kent Spender coined the term “osteoarthritis” (OA) which led to the modern understanding of the disease.

To relieve the pain and suffering of OA, ancient healers tried various concoctions, some of which persist until today. . More than 2500 years ago, Egyptian physicians treated OA with ointments containing fat, oil, honey or bone marrow, often added to various dry ingredients such as: flour, baking soda, cumin and incense. 1   The father of medicine, Hippocrates, observed that “Swelling and joint pain, ulcers, those of a gouty nature and muscle strain are usually improved by cold water, which reduces swelling and eliminates the pain, as a moderate degree of numbness eliminates pain”. Another Greek physician named Dioscorides floated a less enduring idea. He recommended using ivy. This treatment proved less effective although the subsequent itching may have distracted patients from thinking about their joints.

Acupuncture, an effective therapy for some folks, is another ancient treatment that has remained virtually unchanged over many years. An older medicinal approach using willow bark leaves remains in use today.  These leaves contain salicylic acid. An understanding of the benefits of salicyclic acid ultimately led to a breakthrough by a French chemist named, Charles Frederic Gerhardt. Gerhardt’s claim to fame involved the chemically synthesize of Aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid in 1897 that improved upon salicylic acid.

In more recent years, clinical research has helped to shed some light on this painful disease. Though there is no cure for OA, researchers have found many treatments to manage symptoms.  Science has proven that physical activity is one of the most beneficial ways to manage OA. The CDC recommends exercises such as: brisk walking, bicycling, swimming and muscle strengthening activities. It’s important for you to get moving and keep moving!  Losing weight can also help relieve additional stress on your weight bearing joints.

If older therapies haven’t worked for you or someone you know, there is always the promises of modern medicine. Thanks to years of clinical research there are some great medications available both over-the-counter and by prescription. Analgesics such as Tylenol, opioids (narcotics) and Tramadol are pain relievers. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most common anti-inflammation medication. NSAIDs include: Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Celebrex. Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory medicines most notably given by injection in a doctor’s office. Hyaluronic acid naturally occurs in joint fluid, acting as a shock absorber and lubricant. Hyaluronic acid is given by injection in a doctor’s office.2  We don’t suggest using any treatments without first checking with your doctor!

The future for OA treatments looks bright. You can participate in the path to the future by participating in a clinical trial. We have many programs available for knee arthritis, back pain and general arthritis available at no charge. Please give us a call so we can see which program works best for you!

Posted by Rebecca Plante Tuesday, March 1, 2016 11:23:00 AM