Friday, 23 May 2014: A new drug-free treatment for arthritis is becoming a hit with top sports stars. The topically applied gel, Flexiseq, was developed to ease osteoarthritis pain but elite athletes including South African rugby players are using it to lubricate joints in readiness for wear and tear on the pitch.
Saracens Rugby Club has been trialling the revolutionary gel for the past six months. Tomorrow, the 2014 Heineken Cup Final takes place in Cardiff with Saracens versus reigning champions RC Toulon. Many South Africans play for Saracens including Mouritz Botha, Schalk Brits, Neil de Kock, Petrus du Plessis, Nick Fenton-Wells, Alastair Hargreaves, Justin Melck and Ernst Joubert as well as SA born and raised Brad Barritt. The technical director is Dr Brendan Venter. Jacques Burger from Namibia is also included.
What is not known is that many of these players are using a breakthrough joint care innovation, which has just become available in the last month in South Africa. The Saracens medical staff have been trialling Flexiseq amongst the players of the elite squad for the last six months.
In fact, Brad Barritt first heard about Flexiseq when his grandfather, who has ‘troublesome knees’, called him from South Africa to ask if it was available in the UK and if some could be sent to him.
Barritt, 27, who has lined up for England and the British & Irish Lions said: “Flexiseq has enabled me to train and compete at my best. It offers me peace of mind in that it is drug-free and by lubricating my joints it protects them, shortens recovery time and hopefully will prolong my career.”
The gel is an injection-free biolubricant for joints. Flexiseq fits into the field of sports medicine where healthcare professionals are overloaded with joint injuries and are ever-vigilant for safer, drug-free ways to treat them. The physicality of rugby puts extraordinary stress and strain on players’ bodies and injuries are inevitable. These injuries can involve joint damage which can predispose a player to the early onset of further joint problems such as osteoarthritis.
The product is being used by Saracens as a drug-free solution to joint pain and stiffness as well as an additional step in players’ rehabilitation and after-care.
Replacing painkillers such as commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs saves sportsmen from the well documented risks of side effects and slowing of the natural recovery and rehabilitation that can be caused by these painkillers.
Brendan Venter, a medical doctor and the technical director of Saracens rugby team comments, “The Saracens team physiotherapist is enthusiastic about the product since Flexiseq provides an efficacious whilst safe treatment option. Team mates including Schalk Brits and Jacques Burger are also using Flexiseq to good effect. The clinical trials showing how Flexiseq relieves pain to the same extent as a major non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug as an easy gel application is exciting. I am trialling Flexiseq on some of my patients in my Somerset West practise – if the product proves as good as the trials suggest, I’ll be discussing this treatment with a number of locally based rugby players.”
The drug free gel which became available in South Africa in April has proved to be very popular selling out a three month supply in three weeks.
It was developed using Sequessome Technology, which is a cutting-edge nano-technology. Six clinical trials involving 4,000 patients found it helped mobility while easing pain in osteoarthritis sufferers and, being drug-free, it is safe for long-term use.
It is attracting interest from sports medics in South Africa. Says Dr Jon Patricios, president of the South African Sports Medicine Association and consultant to Kaizer Chiefs, SARU and Cricket South Africa: “This is a most interesting new approach to treating joint pain. The physical mode of action and the lack of an active pharmaceutical ingredient make it safe and the clinical trials show efficacy. Flexiseq will be a useful treatment which can be used in conjunction with drugs or to help those patients who do not tolerate drug treatment or who are at risk of side effects. I have a number of patients currently trialling the product who have responded well which is most promising.”
Medics are impressed by its ability to get deep into the joint and provide added lubrication to help protect against increased friction and wear.
Rugby injuries often involve joint damage, bringing about the early onset of ailments like osteoarthritis. The product is being used by Saracens as a drug-free solution to joint pain and stiffness, as well as an additional step in players’ rehabilitation and after-care.
Flexiseq vesicles accumulate on the surface of the damaged cartilage creating a film of lubricating lipids (fats) offering pain relief and increased mobility.
Says Ken Ralston, a pharmaceutical specialist and MD of SkyMed who brought Flexiseq to South Africa: “Flexiseq is a game-changer. Elite, high impact rugby is the ultimate sports test for joints. We’re proud to have successfully proven Flexiseq in this testing environment with the Saracens medical team and wish each player and the Saracens team success.” ENDS