Study finds greater pain relief with knee replacement, other health briefs

SHARE Study finds greater pain relief with knee replacement, other health briefs
SHARE Study finds greater pain relief with knee replacement, other health briefs

People with knees worn out by arthritis will get more pain relief from joint replacement surgery, but it has more risks, and less drastic approaches might help.

That’s the bottom line from the first study to strictly test knee replacement against other treatments.

More than 670,000 total knee replacements a year are done in the United States, mostly for arthritis, which deteriorates cartilage.

For a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, Danish researchers assigned 100 patients to either 12 weeks of non-surgical treatment — physical therapy, exercise, diet advice, special insoles and pain medicine — or surgery followed by 12 weeks of the other treatments.

After a year, the surgery group improved twice as much as the other, but two-thirds of those not getting surgery still had meaningful improvement.

Dr. Joshua Jacobs, chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Rush University Medical Center

Dr. Joshua Jacobs, chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Rush University Medical Center

Dr. Joshua Jacobs, a surgeon at Rush University Medical Center who’s a spokesman for the Rosemont-based American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, sees the results as a clear victory for surgery.

“This certainly adds to the evidence that what we’re doing is effective and improves patients’ quality of life,” says Jacobs, noting that many find relief with therapy but ultimately need surgery.

Kenneth Rose, a retired Chicago cop, tried shots before having a knee replaced in 2011. When his other knee worsened, he had it replaced in May. “I wish I had done it sooner,” Rose says.

The operation costs $20,000 to $25,000.

AP

Study links gene to lung cancer spread

Researchers at Northwestern University believe they may have found a new genetic marker for lung cancer, a disease responsible for more deaths worldwide than any other cancer.

Dr. Jane Wu

Dr. Jane Wu

Researchers led by Dr. Jane Wu, a Northwestern neurology professor, linked a gene known as Myosin 9b to the formation of tumors in the lung and the spread of the cancer.

For a study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, they found a protein the gene encodes in 90 percent of lung-cancer tissue samples. The higher the level of the protein, the greater the likelihood patients would die sooner, the study found.

Finding ways to suppress the function of the protein might help patients with cancer that’s spread beyond the lungs, according to Wu.

Staff report

Some in Illinois will see 2016 insurance prices under Obamacare

Many people in Illinois will pay more for health insurance entering the third year of President Barack Obama’s health-care law, experts say, based on the government’s newly published 2016 prices.

The cost of a benchmark plan in Illinois on HealthCare.gov will go up 6.1 percent for 2016 coverage. Most people will be able to buy a plan for less than $100 a month after tax credits.

Shelley Schiff

Shelley Schiff

Because many health plans are changing, Shelley Schiff, an insurance broker in Northbrook, says, “No one should assume their doctor is covered by a particular health plan.”

Consumers have until Dec. 15 to buy coverage through HealthCare.gov to take effect Jan. 1.

The Illinois Department of Insurance says the statewide average rate increase for the lowest-cost “silver” plan (covering 70 percent of health costs) is 5.3 percent and 11.3 percent for the lowest-cost “bronze” plan (60 percent).

AP

Pediatricians urged to screen kids for hunger

The lack of adequate nutrition poses a serious health risk to children, the Elk Grove Village-based American Academy of Pediatrics says in a first-ever recommendation that its members start screening children for hunger and referring families facing “food insecurity” to agencies for help.

Dr. Sarah Jane Schwarzenberg

Dr. Sarah Jane Schwarzenberg

In recommendations published in the journal Pediatrics, the group says more than 15 million kids across the nation “live in households still struggling with hunger.”

“Being malnourished or not getting enough healthy food early in life has effects that can last well into adulthood,” says Dr. Sarah Jane Schwarzenberg, lead author of the recommendations.

The pediatricians group says its member should screen all patients, noting that even middle-income families might face financial problems,

Staff report

Grant aims to combat cancer in poor Chicago neighborhoods

The National Cancer Institute has awarded a five-year, $17.4 million grant to Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northeastern Illinois University to help fight cancer in the city’s lower-income neighborhoods through research, education and community outreach.

A key aim of the Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative, being created under the grant, is to improve prevention and early detection in communities hit disproportionately hard by cancer.

Poor neighborhoods and those that are largely African-American or Latino have cancer death rates as much as double the national average, the Illinois Department of Public Health says.

Staff report

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