Mayo Clinic Health Letter, January 2011: Reducing Wrist Pain; Whole Grains for Better Health; and Home Hemodialysis - Convenient Option

ROCHESTER, Minn.--()--Here are highlights from the January issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. You may cite this publication as often as you wish. Reprinting is allowed for a fee. Mayo Clinic Health Letter attribution is required. Include the following subscription information as your editorial policies permit: Visit or call toll-free for subscription information, 1-800-333-9037, extension 9771.

Steps to Reduce Arthritis Wrist Pain

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Wrist pain, stiffness and weakness may be signs of arthritis. The most common cause of wrist arthritis is a past trauma or fracture in the affected wrist area. The January issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter provides an overview of wrist arthritis and simple steps to reduce pain and maintain function.

Many home care and medical treatment options can help, including:

Using wrists wisely: Simple changes or adjustments can avoid pain-causing movements. For example, lever-style door handles can be installed if turning a doorknob causes pain.

Heat or cold: Electric heat pads or a warm-water soak can ease pain, reduce stiffness and relax tense muscles. An ice pack wrapped in cloth, or hand soaks in cool to cold water can help reduce pain in the event of a flare-up from too much activity. Some people find contrast baths helpful, with an initial hand soak in warm water (100 to 110 F) for five to 10 minutes. The second soak is in cooler water (65 to 75 F) for about one minute. The alternating soaks should continue for about 30 minutes, ending with the warm water.

Topical pain-relieving drugs: The prescription gel diclofenac (Voltaren, Solaraze, others) can be rubbed directly on the skin around the affected joint. Topical products that contain methyl salicylate (BenGay, Icy Hot, others) or capsaicin (Capzasin, Zostrix, others) also may reduce pain.

Pain medications: Nonprescription pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen or naproxen can ease arthritis pain. However, regular use of these medications can cause serious side effects.

Splints: A splint can provide the wrist support needed to recover from a pain flare-up. Splints can be purchased in drugstores or custom-made.

Corticosteroid injections: An injection of this anti-inflammatory medicine can reduce pain and swelling for weeks to months. However, injected medications can cause cumulative damage on tendons and cartilage. Many Mayo Clinic hand specialists allow no more than three injections in the same site, even if the injections are spread over several years.

Wrist pain can have many other causes, including rheumatoid arthritis, or may be related to Lyme disease, gout or autoimmune problems such as lupus. A careful examination is required to make a diagnosis and determine a treatment plan.

Add Whole Grains for Better Health

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- For adults older than 50, eating just three 1-ounce equivalents of whole grains a day -- instead of a comparable amount of refined grains -- can help prevent disease and maintain a healthy weight.

The January issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers whole grains, their health benefits and ways to add more to the diet.

Whole grains include any type of grain that has been minimally processed so the edible components of the grain kernel -- the bran, germ and endosperm -- remain. In contrast, refined grains are processed so most of the bran and some of the germ are removed. Processing removes the most nutrient-rich portion of the grain.

Whole grains come in many forms. Examples of 1-ounce whole-grain servings include one slice of whole-wheat bread, ½ cup cooked oatmeal, a 6-inch whole-wheat tortilla or 3 cups of popped popcorn. Other whole-grain sources range from the familiar brown rice, corn and buckwheat to the less familiar black and red rice, amaranth, millet and quinoa (KEEN-wah).

Research indicates that regular consumption of whole grains -- especially when substituted for refined grain -- is associated with a healthy weight, improvement in cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and prevention of certain cancers.

Home Hemodialysis -- A Convenient Option for Patients with End-stage Kidney Disease

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Hemodialysis -- a type of dialysis in which blood passes from the body through a machine that filters the blood and then returns it to the body -- can now be done in patients’ homes.

The January issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers this option and why it’s an attractive alternative to center-based dialysis.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans rely on dialysis to help manage end-stage kidney disease, when the kidneys are unable to remove enough waste products and fluid. Most people travel to a clinic three times a week for the three- to five-hour filtering process. With travel time and the fatigue that’s common with treatment, a dialysis session can take most of the day.

A growing number of medical centers are helping their patients set up home dialysis units. Home hemodialysis can be done more often, at convenient times and even during sleep.

There’s evidence that home dialysis leads to better results. Patients report significant improvement in overall well-being, heart function and sleeping patterns when dialysis is done more frequently at home, either during the day or during sleep. Patients also report having more energy, sleeping better and feeling less nauseous.

Studies have consistently shown that daily dialysis six times a week or nightly dialysis three to six times a week leads to fewer hospitalizations and a reduction in the number of medications needed.

Home dialysis isn’t for everyone and requires having another person at home to help. And home machines require some training. While the machines are designed to be user-friendly, it may take weeks to months of preparation before a patient is ready to administer dialysis at home.

Mayo Clinic Health Letter is an eight-page monthly newsletter of reliable, accurate and practical information on today’s health and medical news. To subscribe, please call 1-800-333-9037 (toll-free), extension 9771, or visit

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Mayo Clinic
Ronda Willsher
507-284-5005 (days)
507-284-2511 (evenings)


Mayo Clinic
Ronda Willsher
507-284-5005 (days)
507-284-2511 (evenings)