By Wendy Sarubbi | April 29, 2013 12:59 pm

Patients with osteoarthritis of the hip who were treated with the anti–nerve growth factor (NGFs) tanezumab showed significant improvement in their pain and physical function following a 16-week study conducted by Pfizer, Inc.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting 27 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tanezumab is one of several anti-NGFs being studied for osteoarthritis and other chronic pain conditions and the furthest along in development.

“There are hardly any medications to treat osteoarthritis, except for pain medications,” says Dr. Shazia Bég, one of two rheumatologists practicing at UCF Health—the UCF College of Medicine’s physician practice—and assistant professor at the college. “This new medication that is in phase III trial looks to be very exciting.”

“Arthritis can affect any age group and demographic, so every discovery like this can potentially help millions of people,” adds Dr. Neha Bhanusali, a College of Medicine assistant professor who also practices rheumatology at UCF Health.

There are more than 100 different kinds of rheumatic diseases, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), affecting approximately 50 million Americans. Inflammatory rheumatic diseases—such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and gout—are the worst of these afflictions since they are also systemic and autoimmune. They can lead to joint and organ destruction, severe pain, disability and death.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects women two to three times as often as men and usually strikes those in their 40s and 50s. One in 12 women will develop RA, while only one in 20 men are afflicted. One in every 1,000 children will also develop some form of rheumatic disease.

Osteoarthritis is what most people refer to as ‘arthritis’ and is the most common type. It is caused by degenerative damage to the joint cartilage.  Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis, but many treatments are used to fight the pain, including physical therapy, exercise and maintaining proper nutrition. To combat pain in arthritis, Dr. Bég recommends:

  • Eating fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Keeping weight off of hips, back and knees
  • Exercise
  • Heat therapy (for osteoarthritis)
  • Not smoking (increases risk of rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Avoiding stress (can cause pain in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)

Early treatment for rheumatoid arthritis can prevent damage to joints and organs. According to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), those treated within 12 weeks of the disease report nearly 30 percent less pain after 36 months compared to those patients who receive treatment after 12 weeks.

For patients with RA, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are used to inhibit or halt the underlying immune process and prevent long-term damage. Osteoarthritis sufferers can receive cortisone injections in their joints or use analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications as best recommended by their physicians. Acupuncture, massage therapy and yoga have also shown some benefit for both RA and OA.

Those suffering from aches and pains in their joints should see their physician or rheumatologist to determine whether they have arthritis and what type it is. This can be done by a thorough physical exam, appropriate blood work and imaging if needed. Another condition misunderstood by the public but can lead to bone pain from undetected fractures is osteoporosis. “Both Dr. Bhanusali and I also treat osteoporosis, which few people realize can affect not only post-menopausal women, but older men as well. We perform bone density imaging at UCF Health which helps us diagnose low bone mass or osteoporosis and suggest treatment accordingly.”,” says Dr. Bég.


About UCF Health

As part of the UCF College of Medicine, UCF Health was developed as a way to provide individualized, multidisciplinary health care based on the latest medical advancements. Staffed by faculty physicians, patients can receive primary and specialized care at our medical facility located at 3400 Quadrangle Blvd., Orlando, FL 32817.  Specialties include sports medicine, internal medicine, endocrinology, cardiology & cardiovascular testing, geriatrics, rheumatology, neurology and nephrology.


 About Dr. Shazia A. Bég

Dr.-BegDr. Bég is an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Medicine and is board certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.  She specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, gout, osteoarthritis, connective tissue diseases, osteoporosis and provides ultrasound guided joint injections. She practices at UCF Health.




 About Dr. Neha G. Bhanusali

Dr. NehaDr. Bhanusali  is an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Medicine and board certified in Rheumatology and Internal Medicine. Her areas of specialization include inflammatory arthritis, gout, osteoarthritis, advanced biologic therapies and osteoporosis.





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