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The Osteo Report | Feb / March 2019


According to the latest research, almost 10 million people in the UK now live with osteoarthritis. A quite staggering figure.

Given its prevalence, it’s perhaps unsurprising that it’s regularly the focus of news articles, blog posts and videos, many of which touch on the latest scientific research.

Each month, the Flexiseq team scours the web for the osteoarthritis-related stories that have caught our eye.

Here’s our latest roundup…

Medical

The Daily Mail reports that Oxford University researchers have developed a vaccine that blocks the daily cause of osteoarthritis pain - nerve growth factor. It’s only been tested on mice so far, but the signs are positive. “Although at an early stage, this is highly innovative research and these results are very promising,” says Dr Stephen Simpson from Versus Arthritis, who funded the research. They may need to work on the name of the vaccine; ‘CuMVttNG’ is not exactly catchy!

From across the Atlantic comes news of a new knee device that could help those with intermediate osteoarthritis stave off knee replacement surgery. CBS Pittsburgh has spoken to former firefighter Chuck Stenger who has undergone the procedure as part of a clinical trial by Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. And he’s impressed by the results. The ‘Calypso’ device involves little plates being attached to the end of the thigh bone and shin bone to decrease the force load transmitted across the knee. “I’m doing things I haven’t been able to do for 15 to 20 years,” says Chuck.

As we all know, arthritis doesn’t just take a toll on the adult population; it can affect children too. Some grow out of it at a young age, others don’t. Figuring out which children do and, more importantly, which don’t need treatment is something scientists have been working hard to improve. After all, nobody wants to inflict aggressive medication on children that don’t necessarily need it. Help appears to be at hand from a machine learning algorithm that has been able to sort children with arthritis ‘into seven distinct types of disease according to the location of painful joints in the body in a way that was predictive of disease outcome’. Good news from the University of Toronto.

The Irish News has an interview with Stewart Long, director of services at the charity Versus Arthritis. He shares his tips on how best to get moving in the morning when stiffness has built up overnight. As well as advising on stretch routines and the importance of walking, his innovative life hacks also include warming clothes in the dryer before putting them on.

The Daily Express shares a video from ITV’s This Morning in which Dr Benjamin Ellis shares this advice. "Exercise is good for osteoarthritis and similar conditions like fibromyalgia. Often the key is doing a small amount often until your body can manage that. And listening to your body and then building up gradually." The article goes on to advise on the best low-impact exercise for people with all types of arthritis.

In sad news, actor Robbie Coltrane - most famous for his turns in Cracker and the Harry Potter franchise - has been left wheelchair-bound by osteoarthritis in his knees. It’s understood he’s awaiting surgery. We wish him all the best with his recovery.