What is osteoarthritis?
There are over 200 different types of arthritis. The most common is osteoarthritis.
It is by far the most prevalent joint disease worldwide. In South Africa it is estimated that over 3.2 million people suffer from osteoarthritis (OA/RA Facts Finding 2006).
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease characterised by a lack of cartilage in the affected joint.
The layer of cartilage provides a shock absorbing and lubricating surface for the joint to move. So if cartilage is depleted or if lubrication is reduced (reduced phospholipids on cartilage), movement becomes more difficult and increased friction between the bones results in pain, inflammation and discomfort.
The condition is not reversible and often progressive, leading to increased pain and disability. Whilst it can occur in any joint, it is more likely to occur in joints that have been continually stressed over the years eg. knees, hips, feet, hands and lower spine.
What causes osteoarthritis?
- Age – largely a factor of wear and tear of the joints over time.
- Sex – more common and severe in women.
- Obesity – is an important factor causing OA. Being overweight also increases the chances of OA worsening once it has developed.
- Joint injury – may lead to OA later in life.
- Profession – hard repetitive activity may injure joints. OA is more common in people with physically demanding jobs such as professional sportsmen (rugby, football, cricket, running, squash, tennis etc.), farmers and labourers.
- Heredity – there is a common form that strongly runs in families.
- Other types of joint disease – a different kind of joint disease eg rheumatoid arthritis can develop ‘secondary’ osteoarthritis in those joints.
How is osteoarthritis treated?
Drugs are used to treat arthritis.Most drugs work to control symptoms.
- Pain killers (analgesics)
Paracetamol is often used as a first line treatment.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs reduce pain and inflammation of the joint. They are used for many different types of arthritis, often with other drugs. If one type does not work, doctors may try another. NSAID creams or gels are also available.
These usually help more than paracetamol but are more likely to cause side effects such as indigestion, diarrhoea, ankle swelling and skin rashes. Some NSAIDs including newer “coxibs” (Celebrex: celecoxib) have been linked with increased risks of heart attack and stroke.
The renowned medical journal The Lancet, published a study by CNT Collaborative Group (May 2013) which confirms the dangers of NSAIDs - these drugs significantly increased risks of cardiovascular side effects: death, and gastrointestinal problems including internal bleeding.
What is Flexiseq?
Flexiseq is an award winning new drug-free treatment for osteoarthritis which will be available in South Africa from April 2014.
Flexiseq is drug free gel which avoids any drug interactions which can also occur with NSAIDs.
The water based gel is made of millions of droplets of fat called phospholipids, which travel through the skin and tissue, penetrating the joint. They coat the cartilage with a layer of protective lubricant, replacing naturally occurring phospholipids which have been ruined by the disease. Friction between adjoining bones is reduced, resulting in less pain. Flexiseq targets this root cause of osteoarthritis pain.
Flexiseq is a natural lubrication for arthritic joints.
It was awarded the Innovation Award 2013 by the Federal Association of German Pharmacists for “Flexiseq’s breakthrough approach to treatment of osteoarthritis, enabled by the science of sequessome technology.”
Data from six multicentre controlled blind trials in over 4000 patients prove Flexiseq to be highly effective and safe in relieving pain and restoring joint mobility. There have been over 7 million safe treatments dispensed to date. Pain relief is as effective as celecoxib (a bestselling NSAID worldwide).
Flexiseq is easily applied twice daily and it avoids heart and stomach risks common to most OA treatments (NSAIDs) and there are no interactions with other drugs.
It is already successfully sold in Germany, Malaysia, Ireland, Austria, Singapore and this January in the UK. When it launched in Ireland, it became the fastest growing over-the-counter product in recent times.
Why the need for Flexiseq?
Osteoarthritis is a painful and debilitating condition. Current approaches to treating the chronic pain associated with OA are inadequate since drugs are not effective for all patients and can cause serious side effects especially for higher risk groups.
A new drug-free approach is needed to augment NSAIDs in relieving pain or to treat patients who cannot tolerate or are at risk from NSAID drugs.
Effectively managing chronic pain, particularly in patients with other conditions and risk factors, is a challenge that GPs and patients face on a daily basis. This targeted, physical mode of action crucially means there are no drug-to-drug interactions with Flexiseq as it is not itself a drug and, as a result, it can be used by patients who may be taking a variety of medications for other diseases such as high blood pressure.
Unlike most topical treatments for osteoarthritis, Flexiseq is proven to be effective in scientific clinical trials.
Where can you buy Flexiseq?
In South Africa, Flexiseq is available from Dischem, various independent pharmacies (TBC) as well as via the Arthritis Foundation’s website.
The product is distributed internationally by Pro Bono Bio, an innovative pharmaceutical and nano medical device company. In South Africa, the distributors are SkyMed Medical.