CAN PEPPERS NIX OA PAIN?
Blood In Urine
Yellow Staining of Skin and Eyes
Q I know capsaicin creams can help soothe osteoarthritis pain, but what about eating hot peppers?
A When applied topically to the skin directly overlying a painful joint, capsaicin, the substance that makes hot peppers spicy, brings relief by reducing communication between pain nerves and the brain. But so far, eating peppers has not been shown to soothe pain.
'Susan Goodman, MD, assistant attending rheumatologist and internist, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York City
THE SECRET TO ATTRACTION
Q I'm 32 years old and have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Because of it, I basically dress to disguise my body. How can I feel better about myself?
A RA can impact so many areas of your life, including how you feel about your body. The best you can do is to acknowledge these changes but not allow them to define who you are. Ask yourself: What parts of my body do I value? Which make me feel attractive? Choose to focus on these attributes. That will help you project confidence, and that's the most magnetic attribute of all.
'Adena Batterman, social worker and manager, RA support and education programs, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York City
PACKING ON THE POUNDS
Q Since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia four months ago, I've gained more than 30 pounds. I admit I'm less active than I used to be, but is this normal?
A Many people with fibromyalgia gain weight from inactivity. However, some meds can affect your weight, too, so ask your doctor to review what you take to see if one of them may be a culprit. You might also ask her to check your thyroid to rule out low thyroid function, a condition that can also cause weight gain.
'Bruce Solitar, MD, clinical associate professor of rheumatology, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City
DO COCKTAILS AND RA MEDS MIX?
Q I like to have wine with dinner, but my wife says I shouldn't drink because of my RA meds. Do I really have to become a teetotaler?
A Some RA meds can cause liver damage'as can alcohol. That's why doctors often advise people taking the drugs to shun alcoholic beverages. I normally tell patients they can "toast their daughter on her wedding day." In other words, you should avoid drinking alcohol on a regular basis, but an occasional glass of wine, say once or twice a month, is probably okay'just get your doctor's clearance. If you notice any change in liver enzymes (look for itching, jaundice, dark urine or light stools) or suffer from stomach pain or nausea after drinking, report it to your physician; total avoidance of alcohol may be necessary.
'Christopher R. Morris, MD, rheumatologist, Arthritis Associates, Kingsport, TN
OFFICE LIFE AND OA
Q I have an office job that keeps me chained to my desk for most of the day. But I have moderate knee OA and sitting around for hours tends to make my knees achy. What can I do to help ease some of the pain?
A Try taking a few breaks throughout your workday to stretch and walk around your office. For example, take a few walks to the printer, stand while taking your next phone call and go visit co-workers instead of calling or emailing them. An Australian study recently found that taking plenty of breaks, even if they're for as little as a minute, can benefit your body. You can also try taking some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, like
ibuprofen, to lessen pain during the day.
'Michael Weisman, MD, director, Division of Rheumatology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles
FIBRO IN ADOLESCENTS?
Q Lately, my 15-year-old daughter has been complaining about pain, and she's always tired. At first, I thought it was because she was just "being a teenager" and not getting enough sleep'but I'm starting to get worried. I have fibromyalgia and I'm becoming concerned that she may have it too. But is it possible for teens to have this?
A Fibromyalgia is actually fairly common in adolescents, and some data suggest relatives of fibromyalgia patients are at a higher risk for the condition. On the other hand, you may be right about lack of sleep causing her symptoms. If she feels poorly, it would make sense to have her evaluated by her primary care physician to rule out other problems.
'Bruce Solitar, MD
BIKRAM YOGA FOR ARTHRITIS?
Q I love yoga! It's great for my arthritis and I love how relaxing it is. But what about Bikram yoga? I want to give it a try, but will the heat be good or bad for my arthritis?
A In Bikram yoga, exercises are performed in a room set at about 105?F. That makes it a very intense, demanding form of yoga I wouldn't recommend for most people with arthritis. It doesn't have the relaxing, meditative atmosphere you're used to, plus prolonged, strenuous exercise in high temps can lead to heat-based injuries, like heat stroke. So stick with your current class, where you can keep cool while you work out.
'Christopher R. Morris, MD
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