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Maintain a healthy weight to help reduce strain (and pain) in your knees.

Vitamin D May Help Defend Against Knee Osteoarthritis

Vitamin D is crucial for your overall health. Among other jobs in the body, it helps maintain strong bones, regulate immune activity and reduce inflammation. Now new evidence suggests that it may have specific benefits for knee osteoarthritis. A study found that higher vitamin D levels may be associated with less cartilage loss in the knee over a three-year period (Arthritis & Rheumatism, May 2009).

A vital vitamin

The study, conducted in Australia, included 880 randomly selected men and women between ages 51 and 79. To check for osteoarthritis, researchers looked at X-ray images of the participants’ knees. They also used MRI images to measure cartilage volume and asked participants to rate the severity of any knee pain.

To assess vitamin D, researchers measured vitamin D levels in the participants’ blood. They also questioned participants about how much sun they got, as vitamin D can be manufactured by the skin after exposure to sunlight.

People who started the study with insufficient vitamin D were more likely to have signs of knee osteoarthritis than those who got enough of the vitamin. About 40% of the people in the study also had another MRI three years later, which showed that people with higher vitamin D levels tended to have less cartilage loss — evidence that osteoarthritis had progressed less rapidly in this group.

The researchers stated that their data suggested that getting enough vitamin D may slow worsening of knee osteoarthritis. And they aren’t the only ones to make that suggestion. Another large study — this one done in the Netherlands — yielded similar findings (Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, August 2009). Scientists are still unsure exactly how osteoarthritis and vitamin D might be linked. However, vitamin D has been seen to bind to special receptors in cartilage, where it may affect cartilage cells and chemical activity.

The ABCs of D

Many people in the United States have blood levels of vitamin D that are thought to be too low for optimal health, and almost no one has levels that are too high. Consequently, experts say that getting ample vitamin D should be a priority for all Americans. If you’re at increased risk for vitamin D insufficiency — for example, if you are over age 50, have dark skin, are obese or have certain medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease — your doctor might recommend getting a simple blood test to check your vitamin D level.

Although the body can make its own vitamin D when sunlight strikes the skin, experts advise limiting sun exposure due to the risk of skin cancer. Plus, if you’re over age 50, your skin may not make vitamin D as efficiently as it once did. Factors such as skin color and geographical location also affect how much vitamin D your skin produces. Rather, the safest, most reliable route to getting enough of the vitamin is through your diet.

Only a few foods — such as salmon, mackerel and tuna — are naturally rich in vitamin D. But the vitamin is added to some other foods, such as vitamin D-fortified milk, yogurt, orange juice and breakfast cereal. All these foods are great choices for boosting vitamin D intake. Some are also high in bone-strengthening calcium, and since your body needs vitamin D to use calcium properly, that’s a super pairing.

The bottom line

Vitamin D is a powerhouse when it comes to your general health, and research indicates that it could have specific benefits for your knee osteoarthritis as well. If you’re concerned that you might not be getting enough of this essential vitamin, talk to your doctor. In some cases, your doctor may recommend getting a blood test to check your vitamin D level and/or taking additional vitamin D in a supplement.

PLEASE NOTE: The studies and their findings that are presented in this article are for informational purposes only and are not meant to take the place of the advice of your doctor. By providing you with this information, Sanofi Biosurgery is not endorsing its content nor does it represent that the information is necessarily appropriate for you. You should consult with your doctor before starting any new health or exercise regimen.

References

“Serum Levels of Vitamin D, Sunlight Exposure, and Knee Cartilage Loss in Older Adults: The Tasmanian Older Adult Cohort Study.” C. Ding et al. Arthritis & Rheumatism. May 2009, vol. 60, no. 5, pp. 1381-1389.

“Vitamin D Status, Bone Mineral Density, and the Development of Radiographic Osteoarthritis of the Knee: The Rotterdam Study.” A.P. Bergink et al. Journal of Clinical Rheumatology. August 2009, vol. 15, no. 5, pp. 230-237.

“Expression of vitamin D receptors and matrix metalloproteinases in osteoarthritic cartilage and human articular chondrocytes in vitro.” Tetlow L.C, Woolley DE. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2001; 9:423-31.

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Indication

Synvisc-One® (hylan G-F 20) is indicated for the treatment of pain in osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee in patients who have failed to respond adequately to conservative non-pharmacologic therapy and simple analgesics, e.g., acetaminophen.

Important Safety Information for Synvisc-One

Before trying Synvisc-One, tell your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction, such as swelling of the face, tongue or throat, respiratory difficulty, rash, itching or hives to SYNVISC or any hyaluronan-based products. Allergic reactions, some which can be potentially severe, have been reported during the use of Synvisc-One. Should not be used in patients with an infected knee joint, skin disease or infection around the area where the injection will be given, and should be used with caution when there is swelling of the legs due to problems with venous stasis or lymphatic drainage.

Synvisc-One is only for injection into the knee, performed by a doctor or other qualified health care professional. Synvisc-One has not been tested to show pain relief in joints other than the knee. Tell your doctor if you are allergic to products from birds – such as feathers, eggs or poultry – or if your leg is swollen or infected.

Synvisc-One has not been tested in children (≤21years old), pregnant women or women who are nursing. You should tell your doctor if you think you are pregnant or if you are nursing a child.

Talk to your doctor before resuming strenuous weight-bearing activities after treatment.

The side effects sometimes seen after Synvisc-One include (<2% each): pain, swelling, heat, redness, and/or fluid build-up in or around the knee. Tell your doctor if you experience any side effects after treatment with Synvisc-One.

 

View the Complete Prescribing Information for Synvisc-One

 

Indication

SYNVISC® (hylan G-F 20) is used to relieve knee pain due to osteoarthritis (OA). It is for patients who do not get enough relief from simple painkillers such as acetaminophen, or from exercise and physical therapy.

Important Safety Information for SYNVISC

Before trying SYNVISC, tell your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction, such as swelling of the face, tongue or throat, respiratory difficulty, rash, itching or hives to SYNVISC or any hyaluronan-based products. Serious allergic reactions have been reported. Should not be used in patients with an infected knee joint, skin disease or infection around the area where the injection will be given, or circulatory problems in the legs.

SYNVISC is only for injection into the knee, performed by a doctor or other qualified health care professional. SYNVISC has not been tested to show pain relief in joints other than the knee. Tell your doctor if you are allergic to products from birds - such as feathers, eggs or poultry - or if your leg is swollen or infected.

SYNVISC has not been tested in children (≤21years old), pregnant women or women who are nursing. You should tell your doctor if you think you are pregnant or if you are nursing a child. Talk to your doctor before resuming strenuous weight-bearing activities after treatment.

The side effects sometimes seen after SYNVISC include pain, swelling, heat, redness, and/or fluid buildup in or around the knee. These reactions were generally mild and did not last long, but in rare occasions these side effects were more severe. The most commonly occurring adverse events outside of the injected knee were rash, fever, nausea, and headache.

View the Complete Prescribing Information for SYNVISC

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Important Safety Information: SYNVISC and Synvisc-One are contraindicated in patients with known hypersensitivity to hyaluronan products or patients with infections in or around the target knee.