New Osteoporosis Research: Serotonin Could Control Bone Formation

Most treatments for Osteoporosis only slow bone loss, but a new finding may provide new hope for the 10 million Americans who live with this disease. Turns out serotonin could play a very important role in bone formation.

The New York Times reports:

At its heart is serotonin made by the gut rather than the brain, whose role outside the brain had been a mystery. Ninety-five percent of the body’s serotonin is made by the gut, but gut serotonin cannot enter the brain because it is barred by a membrane, the so-called blood-brain barrier.

Dr. Karsenty reports, though, that gut serotonin can directly control bone formation. It is released into the blood, and the more serotonin that reaches bone, the more bone is lost. Conversely, the less serotonin, the denser and stronger bones become. Dr. Karsenty was even able to prevent menopause-induced osteoporosis in mice by slowing serotonin production.

Osteoporosis researchers were dumbfounded by the report.

Those same experts are quick to caution that while exciting, this research is "basic" — it was done in mice that were "engineered to have human genes." Researchers remain hopeful about the research that could follow that would drastically change the way Osteoporosis is treated.

Bone Finding May Point to Hope for Osteoporosis [via The New York Times]

Arthritis Prevention, Control & Cure Act Update

What Happened During the Lame Duck Session

A note from the Arthritis Foundation:

As the 110th Congress winds down, we wanted to provide an update on the status of the Arthritis Prevention, Control and Cure Act (H.R. 1283). There was no Senate consideration of the bill during the November “lame duck” session. It is possible that Congress will meet again in December given the current economic conditions, so we will continue working to find any opportunity to make headway. At the same time, we are beginning to look ahead to the New Year with a new Congress and a new Administration. Your past efforts at reaching out to your Members of Congress have not gone unnoticed as evidenced by the unanimous House passage of the Arthritis Act in late September. The Arthritis Foundation will be calling upon all its advocates again to continue the momentum and push the Act through both the House and Senate next year.

Resolve to get involved! Click here to find out how to become an advocate.

Honda Introduces The Best Christmas Gift Ever!

Honda Robotic Walker This device may look like  it is right out of a sci-fi movie, but it actually a new machine developed by the makers of my favorite car. Honda.

The article mentions that this gadget would be useful for auto factory workers and people standing in long lines. I could definitely see this device being really helpful to us arthritis folks. Now, if we could only find a way to get our insurance companies to pay for it! Pricing and commercial product plans are still in the works.

Imagine a bicycle seat connected by mechanical frames to a pair of shoes for an idea of how the new wearable assisted-walking gadget from Honda works.

The experimental device, unveiled Friday, is designed to support bodyweight, reduce stress on the knees and help people get up steps and stay in crouching positions.

Kudos to Honda for thinking creatively! Can’t wait to see how this develops.

Arthritis Foundation Responds To Obama

Below is a portion of an email from Chief Public Policy Officer at the Arthritis Foundation National Office in Washington DC, Amy Melnick. The email was written in response to Larry and Juanita Stuart’s story that was highlighted on Barak Obama’s 30-minute primetime special:

Earlier this week, we sent the attached letter to now President-Elect Barack Obama. The Arthritis Foundation will be working with the new Administration, and with the new Congress, on policies and legislation that will expand access to comprehensive health care to include preventive care, self-management programs, surgical interventions, rehabilitation services, and prescription medications for people with arthritis. We must work together, and with other like-minded organizations, at improving the care for people with arthritis. It truly was a watershed moment for people with arthritis to be featured on national television by a candidate running for our nation’s highest office. We plan on using this opportunity with President-Elect Obama and his new Administration to engage in substantive policy and advocacy work on behalf of the 46 million people, including nearly 300,000 children with arthritis.

Do you think it will be possible to find a cure for arthritis in my lifetime? My answer: Yes we can!

Read the letter that the Arthritis Foundation sent to President-Elect Barack Obama

Barak Obama Talks About Rheumatoid Arthritis

During president-elect Barak Obama’s 30 minute special that ran the week before the election on multiple national TV networks, he highlighted the struggle that Larry and Juanita Stuart of Ohio face on a daily basis: Juanita has rheumatoid arthritis and their mounting health care bills have forced Larry out of retirement that he had worked so hard to earn.

I have empathy for Larry and Juanita Stuart’s struggle, and I also have deep gratitude for their willingness to share their story. Rarely is the topic of any form arthritis brought to light in such a grand scale. I hope that it helps to raise awareness.

If you have trouble viewing the embedded video below, click here .

Forward the video to 7 1/2 minutes to see the segment on rheumatoid arthritis.

Last Minute Halloween Costume

Boo!Ever thought of going to a Halloween shindig as “arthritis?” With a suit that was recently developed by Loughborough University, now you can. The suit is more of an eye-opener for the person wearing it, though. People who encounter someone dressed up as “arthritis,” wearing a mostly black, with white and red “accents” jumpsuit might think you are a skydiver or a motorcross racer.

The concept behind this funny-looking suit is that it gives others insight into what life is like as an osteoarthritis patient. Whoever is wearing the suit will find it hard to bend down to pick things up, open jars or climb stairs, among other things.

What a great idea. These suits should be featured at all arthritis events (walks, conferences, support group meetings) so friends and family members can walk in our shoes for a few minutes. Doctors could even try it for a day to better understand what their patients are going through.

Now, if only someone could invent a super suit that reversed the effects of arthritis! I’m waiting for that day. And that suit better be pretty stylish.

But this got me thinking, if you did go to a Halloween party as “arthritis” what would that look like? Leave your ideas in the comments!

Happy Halloween! Have a spooktacular day.

The suit aiming to replicate arthritis

Fibromyalgia Patient Finds A Path To Better Health Via Dancing

Juliana Sadock Savino used to be a professional musician, but was forced into early retirement after a hand injury. Around the same time she was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.

Juliana’s story is a beautiful illustration of how to cope with pizazz. She found a regular activity that lifts her mood, while also giving her a bit of a musical fix that has been missing since she had to basically give up playing the double bass. That is inspiring to me.

“There is the fun that comes with feeling free to make a complete fool of myself, one of the consolation prizes of middle-age,” she told me. “I dance for myself and for the fun of being in class. My doc says I am the only tap-dancing fibromyalgia patient he knows of. Do my feet hurt? Sometimes. But as Sammy Davis says in ‘Tap,’ I want to die with my taps on. Actually I’m living with them on.”

Watch the short video that tells Juliana’s story of coping with chronic pain by tap dancing — even while in line at the grocery store!

I also highly recommend checking out Matt Harding’s YouTube video, titled "Dancing" (which is mentioned in the NY Times blog post) if you have not already seen it. It’s simple, beautiful and powerful.

Being the variety junkie that I am, I have a few different activities that help me cope with my rheumatoid arthritis: physical activities (biking, swimming), blogging here, playing my clarinet on occasion. Next year, I am hoping to take up outrigger canoeing … if my body can handle it. Really anything that I can get excited about helps me cope, from watching "The Office" to listing to a great new song on the radio.

Do you have a regular activity that helps you cope with pain? Tell me about it in the comments.

Tales Of An Arthritis Blogger

Hey gang, apologies for my sporadic posting lately. It seems that after I came down with a virus in September that I have not been good about getting myself back on a regular posting schedule. I think it’s a combination of simply being quite busy and also feeling spent at the end of the day. I come home from working eight hours and just want to veg, but then, of course, feel bad about just vegging because there are twenty other things I “should” be doing. It’s not like someone is standing over me, wagging their finger saying, “Sheryl, you should be cleaning your kitchen.” It’s always my voice that just can’t seem to give myself a break. Argh, I think I will be working on managing (and talking back to) that voice for the rest of my life. I digress…

The good news is, I’m back in action and committed to resuming my regular postings. Please feel free to join the discussion and comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Great Gadgets: Musings On A New Device

I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis for 11 years. I’ve been taking medication twice a day now for about that length of time, yet sometimes I simply forget to take it. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this because it seems sort of ridiculous to me, but I’m sure I’m not the only one. Well, I hope I’m not the only one!

According to a New York Times article I was reading over the weekend, “busy people can forget to take their medications.” Good. I’m not the only one. 😉 A Silicon Valley company (Zume Life) is testing a new device called Zuri that will help you remember to take your meds, while also keeping track of symptoms, diet, exercise, and other health information. All of this data can then be uploaded to a website. The geek in me thinks this is pretty nifty.

The Zuri will not be cheap, though. It will retail at around $200 and the monthly fee for web services will run about $40 to $50 a month. Whoa! Basically, it’s like having another cell phone. Perhaps other companies will begin to develop similar devices and, eventually, we’ll have a variety of devices to choose from, at various prices, to suit our needs.

I really like the concept, but I don’t think this is something I’d buy. Busy people do not need another device to carry around that costs as much as their cell phone. The article mentions an iPhone application that is currently in the works by the same company. Now, this is more appealing… especially since I’m looking for more reasons to justify plunking down the money for an iPhone.

I can definitely see the benefits of the Zuri, and I think it could be especially useful for caregivers. This article has inspired me to do a little web surfing to see what is out there that might help me capture my day-to-day health information. Once I find some other options, I will report back.

I am intrigued, though, and I think a device like this could really improve self-care. Kudos to Zume Life for developing something innovative!

NY Times Article on Zuri

Zume Life