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If you have a chronic condition — or are a caregiver for a loved one with a chronic condition — being engaged in your care means staying up to date on research. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together the latest health-related news and patient-centered studies to keep you informed so you can better manage your condition and advocate for better care. 

In this month’s news round-up, discover how obesity affects rheumatoid arthritis treatment, the potential benefits of coconut water for ulcerative colitis, the link between atopic dermatitis and eating disorders, and more.  

The Impact of Obesity on RA Treatment Outcomes 

Living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be challenging, especially if you’re also managing obesity. But understanding how your weight might affect your treatment is an important step toward better health.  

A revealing study highlighted in Rheumatic & Musculoskeletal Diseases suggests that obesity could lessen the effectiveness of RA treatments, regardless of the therapy chosen. This means that despite the availability of advanced therapies, those who are obese might find it more difficult to combat RA. Obesity is not just a risk factor for developing RA but can also necessitate more complex treatment regimens.  

In the study of individuals with untreated early RA, obesity was linked to a lower likelihood of a good response to both conventional and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) over 48 weeks.  

If you find yourself in this group, it’s crucial to maintain open communication with your health care provider. Together, you can track your treatment progress and adjust as needed to better manage your RA and improve your health outcomes.  

Healing Potential of Coconut Water for Ulcerative Colitis

Imagine having a delicious and nutritious way to feel better. If you’re managing the chronic inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis (UC), adding coconut water to your daily routine might offer some relief. Known for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to influence the gut’s bacterial balance, coconut water has shown promising results in a recent study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 

Over eight weeks, patients with mild to moderate UC who drank coconut water along with their standard medications saw significant improvements. Specifically, 53 percent of the participants in the coconut water group reported well-controlled symptoms and low disease activity, compared to only 28 percent in the placebo group. This natural drink, rich in potassium, not only soothes inflammation but also supports a healthier gut microbiome, which is crucial for managing UC. 

Participants continued their usual UC treatments, but those who drank 400 mL of coconut water daily were more likely to achieve clinical remission and respond positively to treatment compared to those who received a placebo. The effects of coconut water were also reflected in the participants’ gut bacteria, showing a beneficial shift in bacterial populations associated with reduced disease activity. Although coconut water can be pricey, it could offer a refreshing way to potentially enhance your quality of life.  

Are Female Physicians Better for Hospitalization?

This may be likely, according to a recent study which explored the effectiveness of doctors specialized in the care of hospitalized patients and found that those treated by female physicians had notably better survival rates and were less likely to be readmitted within 30 days after discharge. This extensive study, which analyzed nearly 777,000 Medicare beneficiaries from 2016 to 2019, was recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. 

Both men and women showed improved outcomes under the care of female hospitalists compared to their male counterparts, with an even more pronounced benefit for female patients. Specifically, female patients treated by female physicians experienced a significant reduction in mortality rates. More research is needed to understand why patients may have different outcomes when treated by female doctors compared to male doctors, and why female patients in particular seem to do better with female doctors. 

Atopic Dermatitis May Triple the Risk of Eating Disorders

Have you ever wondered if skin conditions could affect more than just your skin? New research from Yale University suggests that individuals with atopic dermatitis, a common form of eczema, may be at a significantly higher risk of developing eating disorders. Those with this skin condition are twice as likely to develop anorexia or bulimia and three times more likely to struggle with binge eating disorder. 

This finding comes from a detailed study involving more than 250,000 participants in the All of Us Research Program, highlighting a notable link between atopic dermatitis and increased odds of all tested eating disorders. The strongest association was seen with binge eating disorder, where individuals with atopic dermatitis were over three times more likely to experience symptoms. 

While treating atopic dermatitis can alleviate related anxiety and depression, its impact on disordered eating remains less clear, pointing to the need for comprehensive care approaches. The takeaway? Considering both skin and psychological health in managing atopic dermatitis. 

Multimodal Pain Approach for Hand Surgery Recovery

How would you prefer to manage pain after surgery? A new study highlights important findings for patients undergoing hand and wrist surgery. It compares two types of pain management after surgery: one using only opioids, and another combining opioids with common medications like acetaminophen and naproxen.  

The study found that patients who received this combined approach reported higher satisfaction and experienced similar pain levels as those on opioids alone. They also took fewer opioid pills overall and needed fewer refills, suggesting a safer recovery with less reliance on these stronger painkillers. 

These findings are very useful for anyone planning to have hand or wrist surgery. Choosing a combined pain management plan could not only control your pain effectively but also reduce the risks linked with opioids, such as addiction and side effects. Knowing about these benefits can help you have a better conversation with your doctor about how to manage pain safely after your surgery, leading to a more comfortable and secure recovery. 

Can Modern Hip Arthroscopy Delay Disease Progression? 

If you’re dealing with hip impingement, a recent study offers hopeful news. Surgeons at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) found that hip arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgery, might slow the onset of arthritis in the hip. In their research, 25 percent of patients saw delayed arthritis progression 10 years post-surgery, compared to those who didn’t undergo the procedure. 

Hip impingement, often causing pain from young adulthood to middle age, occurs when hip bones are misshapen, leading to friction and eventually arthritis. This study, published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, highlights that modern arthroscopic techniques can make a significant difference in managing this condition. With these findings, surgeons can better identify who might benefit most from this procedure, potentially offering a quarter of patients a chance to avoid or delay the debilitating effects of arthritis. 

Want to Get More Involved with Patient Advocacy?

The 50-State Network is the grassroots advocacy arm of CreakyJoints and the Global Healthy Living Foundation, comprised of patients with chronic illness who are trained as health care activists to proactively connect with local, state, and federal health policy stakeholders to share their perspective and influence change. If you want to effect change and make health care more affordable and accessible to patients with chronic illness, learn more here. 

Atsushi M., et al. Comparison of Hospital Mortality and Readmission Rates by Physician and Patient Sex. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2024. doi: 

Chen G.F., et al. Association Between Atopic Dermatitis and Eating Disorders: A Cross-sectional Study in the All of Us Research Program. British Journal of Dermatology. 2024. doi:  

Dubovyk V., et al. Obesity is a risk factor for poor response to treatment in early rheumatoid arthritis: a NORD-STAR study. Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases Open. 2024. doi: 

Ilyas AM, et al. Multimodal Pain Management After Outpatient Orthopedic Hand Surgery: A Prospective Randomized Trial. Journal of Hand Surgery Global Online. 2024. doi: 

Kedia, S., et al. Coconut Water Induces Clinical Remission in Mild to Moderate Ulcerative Colitis: Double-blind Placebo-controlled Trial. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2024. doi: 

Ramkumar P.N., et al. Modern Hip Arthroscopy for FAIS May Delay the Natural History of Osteoarthritis in 25% of Patients: A 12-Year Follow-up Analysis. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2024. doi:

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