Health Watch

Arthritis: alternatives to surgery

Monday, June 18, 2012

It causes pain, stiffness and immobility. When you have osteoarthritis, every single step can be a struggle.

There are invasive surgeries and drugs with a long list of side effects that most patients try to avoid. Now we'll show you arthritis alternative therapies that really work.

As a youth orchestra conductor, Dorothy Kitchen was used to being on her feet all day. But

Then knee arthritis struck.

"I sit now, instead of stand, when I conduct," Dorothy Kitchen, a woman who suffers arthritis told Action News.

Kitchen is determined not to have surgery and only takes meds if she's really in pain.

"I'm not a pill-taker," Kitchen said.

But one thing that has helped is massage.

"I feel more alive, my legs feel mobile," Kitchen said.

Dr. Adam Perlman of Duke University launched a pilot study on massage for knee osteoarthritis. Patients who had massages twice a week for a month and then once a week for another month, had less pain, better range of motion and faster walking speeds.

"And that improvement actually persisted eight weeks after massage was finished," Adam Perlman, M.D., MPH, executive director, Duke Integrated Medicine told Action News.

Another alternative is acupuncture.

"There is very interesting data suggesting that acupuncture can be effective particularly for arthritis of the knee," Dr. Perlman said.

In one study, 25 percent of arthritis patients who were scheduled for knee surgery cancelled their procedures after acupuncture. Then there's glucosamine.

"The studies are conflicting about glucosamine," Dr. Perlman said.

Most studies show glucosamine sulfate at 1,500 milligrams a day can help but glucosamine hydrochloride is most commonly sold in the U.S does not. Finally fight pain by losing weight. Every pound you lose means four pounds less pressure on your knees. That's what works for Kitchen, taking daily walks and massage.

"This will be wonderful! I'll feel good all afternoon," Kitchen concluded.

Dr. Perlman is now enrolling patients in the massage study, which will take place at three centers: one at Duke, one at Yale and one in New Jersey.

For more information, contact:

Mary Jane Gore
Sr. Media Relations Specialist
Duke Medicine News and Communications
(919)660-1309
Mary.gore@duke.edu

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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