Dear Dr. Roach: Weight loss effective for reducing symptoms of arthritis

Dear Dr. Roach: Weight loss effective for reducing symptoms of arthritis

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Dr. Keith Roach

Dear Dr. Roach: I read that every pound you lose translates to 4 pounds less stress on the knee. Can that be possible?

A: That is true. A 2005 study combined advanced gait analysis with a mathematical model to estimate the amount of stress on the knee in normal, everyday activity. They found that every pound of body weight dropped meant 4 pounds less stress at the knee. The authors noted, "Accumulated over thousands of steps per day, a reduction of this magnitude would appear to be clinically meaningful."

The effect of weight loss is even more dramatic when looking at the effect of stairs on the knee. Most people with arthritis know that going up and down stairs is more uncomfortable than regular walking. That's because the stresses are at least two to three times more with stairs than walking on level ground. Each pound of weight loss will then have even greater effect on knee stress with stairs.

Losing weight is not easy, but it remains one effective treatment for reducing symptoms of arthritis.

Dear Dr. Roach: What is the safest and most effective way to clean wax from ears? I have worn hearing aids for roughly 40 years, but with a new set of high-tech hearing aids, ear wax has become a problem. How can I best remove it without using a sharp tool to dig it out?

A: Most people do NOT need to do anything about ear wax, and many traditional home remedies are unsafe. The old advice to never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear is a good one for most people. Candling is unsafe and ineffective. Anything sharp is very dangerous.

For someone with recurrent ear wax, especially with a hearing aid, one approach is to use a cotton ball dipped in mineral oil and place in the external ear canal for 10-20 minutes once a week. This can be followed by a gentle rinse with warm water using a rubber bulb syringe. The cotton ball treatment can be used to prevent symptoms as well as to treat mild cases.

If you don't get relief after a few days of home treatment, you'll need to have your clinician look into your ears.

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