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A new high-tech way to treat arthritis
May 21, 2007
There's a new high-tech way to measure and
treat arthritis. Seven's On Call.
For patients with swollen painful joints,
arthritis specialists or rheumatologists many times rely on the way the
joints look and feel during an exam to gauge the effectiveness of
treatment. Now, new technology is literally pointing out the hot spots.
In less than 30 seconds, doctors map the
"hot spots" in Nikki Fair's right hand. The 10-year old has been living
with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis -- or JRA -- for half of her young
"When I first got diagnosed with JRA, I
had to stay out of gymnastics for a year, which I did not like at all,"
Rheumatoid arthritis patients can have
swollen, warm, or red joints, and a very limited range of motion.
Doctors say there aren't many ways to measure the inflammation.
"We assess a patient in a very subjective
way. They come in, we look at their joints. We try to determine if
they're abnormal," said Dr. Raphael Hirsch, a rheumatologist at
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
But now, researchers are testing a
high-tech way to assess patients. A thermal camera measures the pattern
of the skin's temperature. Patients with arthritis have higher
temperatures -- or "more red" around the joints.
camera takes a 3D snapshot of just part of the wrist to get a better
look at the joint. Even the smallest changes are easily noted.
"There's definitely a feeling in the field
that if you can catch some of these patients early, you can prevent
some of the long-term damage to the joints," Dr. Hirsch said.
Thanks to physical therapy and medication,
Nikki has full use of her hands without pain. Doctors say they hope
these cameras will someday become a routine part of more effective
Arthritis sufferers, even the young ones,
often don't get better with the starting doses of drugs. These gadgets
will help doctors with objective findings to help guide any increase in
the number of pills a patient may need to take.
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