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Walking and Stiffness from AIs

Posted 10/30/2013

Posted in

  Any of us who have ever taken one of the aromatase inhibitors (AIs) or, to a lesser degree, Tamoxifen are well aware of the muscle/joint stiffness that usually develops. Some women experience this as real pain, and a few women need to change medication to improve their symptoms. In that situation, changing, say, from Femara to Arimidex often does improve things. For most of us, however, it isn't really pain, but is "suddenly feeling like a 90 year old woman" first thing in the morning or getting out of the car after a half hour drive or even getting up from the couch after watching a long baseball game (Yes, Red Sox on the mind today).

  I am now so accustomed to this stiffness that I barely acknowledge it. I surely do notice it as a hobble across the bedroom floor in the morning, but it is always much better before I get to the door. I have noticed that the stiffness is worse, that is, longer lasting, if I haven't been able to exercise for a few days, and now here is a study that confirms that observation. This is another good reason to lace up those sneakers and get moving.

  Here is the start of an article from Daily Rx and then a link to read more:

Walking Away From Cancer Rx Stiffness
Breast cancer patients on aromatase inhibitor therapy find stiffness relief from walking

After primary treatment, many breast cancer patients are given medicine to keep the disease from returning. Medicines called aromatase inhibitors block the production of estrogen, the hormone that feeds most breast cancers. Side effects of these medications can include joint pain and stiffness.
A small study found that walking helped older breast cancer survivors on aromatase inhibitor (AI) therapy find relief from medicationrelated joint stiffness, pain, and fatigue.
In addition to easing discomfort, at the end of the study, most of the women said they were motivated to continue walking.
Kirsten A. Nyrop, PhD, a research associate with the Thurston Arthritis Research Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, led the pilot study.
AI therapy is given to postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. There are currently three AIs available: Aromasin (exemestane), Femara (letrozole), and Arimidex (anastrozole).
These medications, usually taken for five years following primary treatment, help breast cancer survivors live longer. However, an estimated 20 to 32 percent of the women taking AIs discontinue the therapy because of the joint pain and stiffness known as AI-associated arthralgia.
The goal of this study was to see if physical activity could help breast cancer survivors continue their AI therapy while living without pain.


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  • Claire Blum said:
    11/5/2013 3:42 PM

    Finally, some explanation for what is going on. I have heard people say they feel like they are walking in concrete. Now we need to treat the problem by building in anti-arthritis components into the medicine,