Alternatives for dealing with joint pain

People's Pharmacy

February 20, 2005|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

I took Vioxx for three years to ease arthritis pain. When it was taken off the market, my doctor switched me over to Bextra. Two months later, I had a stroke. My doctor says I should no longer take Bextra, Celebrex or any other drug like that. What can I do for my stiff, painful joints?

We are so sorry to hear that you had a stroke while taking Bextra. Vioxx was taken off the market because it raised the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Dr. David Graham, safety reviewer for the Food and Drug Administration, estimates that as many as 140,000 people might have suffered heart attacks while on Vioxx. Although Bextra and Celebrex remain on the market, there are still concerns about their safety.

Until the controversy about such drugs is resolved, you might need to try other options. Some people might be able to use aspirin or ibuprofen without damaging their stomachs. Others will have to rely on acetaminophen or dietary supplements such as glucosamine, ginger, tur-meric or boswellia.

I have begun eating spinach salad every day, but have been told that might be dangerous. What is the recommendation regarding spinach?

Traditionally, people susceptible to kidney stones or gout were advised to avoid spinach. It is rich in oxalic acid, which might increase the risk of kidney stones. Spinach is also high in purines, building blocks for uric acid. Too much uric acid might lead to gout.

Spinach might not be a culprit, however. A 12-year study of 47,000 men showed that moderate intake of high-purine vegetables like spinach does not increase the risk of gout. Spinach is high in B vitamins and iron and is a good source of fiber.

I just wanted to tell you that I have been using Rogaine for female pattern baldness for the past year. I noticed hair growth after about six weeks, and now the top of my head has at least 50 percent more growth. The hair filled in around the hairline first, and lately the rest has grown in. It's not completely full, but I no longer have bare spots.

Oral minoxidil was first developed for high blood pressure. By accident it was found to stimulate hair growth, and a topical lotion (Rogaine) was developed for men. This product might actually work better for women with hair loss, as long as they keep on applying it.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail via their Web site: www. peoplespharmacy.org.

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