August 15, 2006               

Table of Contents

Reducing Arthritis Pain
(Exercise research)
Irritable Bowel Basics
(Health facts)
Older Adults and Body Temperature
(Study finding)
(Leg cramp relief)
Overweight Men at Disadvantage
(Medical news)
What Gives with the Silver Screen?

Reducing Arthritis Pain

Following is an edited abstract
from "Exercise and Osteoarthritis: Are We Stopping Too Early? Findings from the Clearwater Exercise Study" by Frances V. Wilder, John P. Barrett, and Edward J. Farina, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 14(2), 169:

The value of exercise for people with knee osteoarthritis receives continuing consideration. The optimal length of study follow-up time remains unclear.

A group of individuals with knee osteoarthritis participating in an exercise intervention was followed for two years. The authors quantified the change in knee-pain scores during Months 1-12 and during Months 13-24. Eleven individuals with radiographic knee osteoarthritis and knee-pain scores of 2 were evaluated. Pain scores were collected weekly from participants who exercised three times a week.

Participants demonstrated pain reduction during both time periods. Pain reduction during Months 13-24 (-10.7%) was slightly higher than pain reduction during Months 1-12 (-7.8%).

Among people with knee osteoarthritis who exercise, these findings suggest that knee-pain amelioration continues beyond 12 months. Clinicians should consider encouraging long-term exercise programs for knee-osteoarthritis patients. To best characterize the effect of exercise on knee pain, researchers designing clinical trials might want to lengthen the studies' duration.

Irritable Bowel Basics

In the chronic condition known as irritable bowel syndrome,
one's digestive tract may shift back and forth between periods of diarrhea and constipation. Abdominal bloating and/or cramping also may occur at times. The Good Health Fact Book from Reader's Digest offers the following insights regarding this uncomfortable and sometimes frustrating syndrome.

No clear-cut cause of the malady and no surefire cure for it have been proven. However, it seems that psychological factors (such as stress) may be involved in producing the symptoms, and there are several methods of treatment available.

Much is understood about the actual workings of irritable bowel syndrome. While portions of the bowel contract too fast, other portions contract sluggishly. Thus, colon movement is often described as "spastic." Antispasmodic medications may be prescribed in order to check intestinal spasms, and antidiarrheal medications may be prescribed in order to counter protracted bouts of diarrhea. Some physicians also will recommend a diet high in fiber for certain irritable bowel syndrome patients.

Good news: Irritable bowel syndrome is a problem of muscle function, a disorder resulting from tissue damage or inflammation, as opposed to the similarly named but more serious condition, inflammatory bowel disease. Experts say there is no connection between the two -- in other words, irritable bowel syndrome does not progress into inflammatory bowel disease.

Older Adults and Body Temperature

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that many older adults have body temperatures below 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The researchers observed body temperatures as low as 94 degrees in healthy seniors. They also noted that an individual's temperature may vary depending upon the time of day. Further study, which is being contemplated, would seek to determine whether body temperature normally lowers with age.


Here are some ideas for countering those unpleasant leg cramps
that can jolt one awake during the dead of night:
  • Daily stretching of the quadriceps (front of thigh), the hamstrings (back of thigh), and the calves may help to prevent the condition.
  • When a leg cramp strikes, flexing the foot may bring relief (move toes toward the shin).
  • If it can be done safely, weight-bearing on the cramped leg may be soothing; rise slowly and stand carefully, using balance support such as a wall or the top of a heavy dresser.
  • Some individuals report that drinking tonic water seems to help them.
  • Ask your doctor if either an over-the-counter quinine formula or a potassium supplement is advisable in your case (he or she might simply recommend more bananas in your diet).

Overweight Men at Disadvantage

Here's yet another good reason for men to keep exercising regularly:
Trimmer men have a better chance for successful radiation treatment in connection with prostate cancer. Research published recently by the journal Cancer found that obese men had a 70 percent higher risk for tumor recurrence following radiation treatment, compared to thinner men.

What Gives with the Silver Screen?

One of America's first great screen actresses
had these wry words to say about the contrary ways of Tinsel Town:

"You know, when I first went into the movies Lionel Barrymore played my grandfather. Later he played my father and finally he played my husband. If he had lived I'm sure I would have played his mother. That's the way it is in Hollywood. The men get younger and the women get older."
                                                                                                                   -- Lillian Gish

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