Polyester patch that ‘sucks in’ water may be a new treatment for shoulder pain, study finds

A polyester patch that ‘sucks in’ water could be an effective treatment for shoulder pain, a new study suggests.

The UK-developed patch is used to enhance surgical repair of a damaged rotator cuff and is designed to help prevent the problem from recurring.

The shoulder is a complex ball and socket joint. It is formed by three main bones: the collarbone, the scapula, and the upper arm bone – the latter forming a ball called the humeral head, which rests against a depression in the scapula.

Although it is a ball and socket joint like the hip, the shoulder socket is shallower because it is supposed to allow a greater range of motion. In contrast, the main purpose of the hip is to provide stability.

The UK developed patch is used to enhance surgical repair of a damaged rotator cuff and is designed to help prevent recurrence of the problem [File photo]

A group of muscles and tendons known as the rotator cuff holds the ball in the socket. As the joint moves, the tendons hold the ball in place.

But these tendons often tear, especially as we age. This restricts movement and causes pain. A tear can come on suddenly, for example when falling on an outstretched hand.

At least 50 percent of people 60 and older are thought to develop a rotator cuff tear at some point — the risk of a tear is 2 percent by age 40, rising to more than 70 percent by age 80.

Exercises to restore strength and range of motion, and steroid injections, are among the first-line treatments for a partial tear — where one of the rotator cuff muscles becomes frayed or damaged.

With a complete tear, the tendon is pulled from the bone and must be sutured back.

More than 10,000 rotator cuff repairs are made in the UK each year, but up to 50 percent fail in the first 12 months, which can lead to long-term disability. The larger the tear, the less likely the repaired tendon (which is about the size of a little finger) to heal.

Although plasters have been used before, the new one – which is sewn over the surgical repair – provides a “support point” for the repair to improve the fixation of the tendon to the bone.

It has thousands of tiny holes or perforations in which new tissue can grow. The polyester itself has been treated to make it hydrophilic, meaning it attracts water. This stimulates tissue cells that contain water to adhere. The type of polyester used in dripping shirts is normally water repellent.

The patch is designed to both strengthen a repair and reduce stress across the repair, a risk factor for the crack to reoccur.

A peer-reviewed study, yet to be published, involving 29 patients in Leeds showed that everything improved after the patch surgery. One patient went from near-paralysis of the joint to fully functioning. On average, there was a threefold improvement in movement and pain.

Two other studies have produced similar results. Furthermore, larger studies are needed to see if the patch reduces tear return.

Professor Chris Peach, a consultant elbow and shoulder surgeon at the OrthTeam Center in Manchester, is leading a global clinical trial to see if patches help the tendon heal better.

He said, “I think biological augments like these are the future of rotator cuff tendon repair surgery. But it’s up to us as responsible surgeons and scientists to prove that this technology works through larger clinical trials before it’s applied more widely in the NHS.”

A brace is just as effective as a plaster cast for healing ankle fractures, scientists at the University of Warwick say. In their study, 669 patients received a cast or removable braces. There was no significant difference in their ability to use their ankle when walking, running or jumping four months later, the BMJ reports. The scientists suggest that while the results were the same, the removable brace may be better than a traditional cast as it allows for muscle-strengthening movements.

New artificial pancreas can tackle type 1 diabetes

People with type 1 diabetes are getting an artificial pancreas in a groundbreaking NHS study.

Their blood sugar is constantly monitored through a sensor under the skin that sends the data to a smart device.

This calculates and adjusts the amount of insulin needed, which is delivered by a pump attached to the body. It is hoped that the technology will prevent life-threatening hypoglycemic attacks (where blood sugar falls too low) and replace painful finger prick tests to check blood sugar.

The device will be offered to 1,000 participants in a study across 25 centers in England to see if it should be adopted by the NHS.

Children who snore may be at greater risk for high blood pressure as teens, while boys are more at risk, reports the journal JAMA Cardiology. However, children whose snoring improved in adolescence did not show a greater risk. The findings, from Penn State University in the US, were based on 421 young people.

Headband makes patchy eyebrows thicker

Can Cold Light Treat Hair Loss In Eyebrows?

It is a common problem with aging, usually due to declining hormone levels such as estrogen. Now scientists have developed a device — basically a headband with LED lights on it — to treat it.

The lamps are ‘non-heat’ producing, or cold, which is thought to increase blood flow and thus nutrients to the hair cells, stimulating growth.

The scientists at Bodian Dermatology Clinic in the US will compare the effects in 40 women – some of whom have been treated and others who have not – over a 12-week period.

happy hour

How to boost happiness hormones. This week: Call a loved one

Close contact between a parent and their child is known to release the calming hormone oxytocin, but just hearing your mom’s voice on the phone can trigger it too.

In a 2010 study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, girls ages seven to 12 were asked to talk to or hug their mothers after a stressful situation (either giving a speech or answering math questions in the presence of others).

The scientists tested their levels of the hormones cortisol (a measure of stress) and oxytocin, and found that just talking to their mother led to the same rise in oxytocin as the physical contact.

Although the study was conducted on children, the researchers say it’s likely we won’t outgrow it.

So the next time you’re feeling down, you know who to call.

Close contact between a parent and their child is known to release the calming hormone oxytocin, but just hearing your mom's voice on the phone can trigger it too.

Close contact between a parent and their child is known to release the calming hormone oxytocin, but just hearing your mom’s voice on the phone can trigger it too.

What’s in it?

We reveal the ingredients in everyday health products. This week: Jungle Formula Maximum (insect repellent)

Deet: Or N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide is the main ingredient. The yellowish oil repels insects such as mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. DEET was once thought to prevent insects from smelling the chemical 1-octen-3-ol, which is found in human sweat and breath.

Recently, studies have shown that mosquitoes simply hate the smell of DEET. Developed in 1944 for the US military, it was first used by civilians in 1957.

Ethyl alcohol: This liquid, also called ethanol, is used to dissolve DEET. It also has antiseptic properties.