I have severe osteoarthritis, but I also have external damage (from falling on my knee off a bike, and falling down stairs onto cobblestones and landing on the left knee). For this as well as other reasons, I've ruled out a knee replacement operation anytime in the future. You can find a bigger explanation for my choice on that one elsewhere on my blog.. Although this is a frugal blog, my reasons have nothing to do with health care issues, but rather is mainly based on my research. I've also ruled out almost all prescription pain meds such as Celebrex, up to now at least. In fact, up till recently the only pain medication I took were my three hundred to six hundred of aspirin nightly.
The problem is to weed my way through the weird and the real alternatives, and find what works for me. By way of clarification, I'll explain here that I do believe in alternative therapies such as teas, oils, acupuncture and other choices, as well as believing the influence on diet in some diseases. So, I will probably try almost everything eventually, and am always open to new suggestions and ideas.
To start with, I've started doing only alternative exercise. Working through the pain is a no no for me, and my doctor. Yes, I may feel some some soreness and yes that old phrase "move it or loose it" is accurate. But pain is indicative of a problem. When I do walk it is generally not for "exercise" but a stroll around the neighborhood. I save my aerobic type stuff for in a pool or doing chair exercises (yes, they do get your heart rate up). I do SOME kind of exercise every single day, even if it is only chair exercises. I'm going to start doing exercises in bed before I get up in the morning. These changes are slow, but I believe that they will help. Note: I forgot to mention, until someone reminded me, that I also do leg and weight exercises to build up the muscles around the joints.
Meditation is often advised as helping (with lots of things, not just pain). I do a seated yoga routine. I've downloaded a meditation program/app to my smart phone so I can use it on the go if I need to, but so far my only meditation is the yoga, in reality. This has helped everyone I know, and I'm really, really terrible about quieting my mind, so I hope it will be helpful.
Someone finally educated me on the differences between heat and cold in joint pain, and the proper use of both. I personally prefer heat, but sometimes ice is better. When I exercise I heat the joint before or during exercise if I feel the need (actually, I work out in a very heated therapy pool) The ice, I save for after exercise if I needed. I like the feeling of heat better but it does relax the blood vessels which is not always best for joints when they are inflamed. My pain is often on the outside, the nerves, so I never really do real well with this one.
I'm starting to massage my knee and I'm going to go to a professional masseuse. I don't just massage it for a minute when it hurts, I massage it with oil,for a long time. Just like I might have massaged my husbands feet for fifteen minutes to half an hour, I do the same with my knees (in my case one is worse than the other by far). Part and parcel with the massage is the aromatherapy. So far I am using peppermint and eucalyptus or lavender. I'm not sure how much is the aromatherapy and how much is the massage, but this has been a HUGE help to me and my pain.
When it comes to the foods portion, I'm still in the research phase. There are not a great deal of absolutes in this area, from what I have found so far. I'm just not sure an all over healthy diet is not the best solution. I eat a fair amount of fish. broccoli, blueberries, olive oil and orange juice, all foods that supposedly fight arthritis. However, I have not taken to eating turmeric or ginger in any form. When it comes to foods that are said to inflame, I'm a white sugar white flour girl who now attempts to cook half and half with brown or whole wheat. Unfortunately I'm also a full glass of milk at bedtime gal, and supposedly most dairy foods are inflammatory and irritate joint tissue. This one is a struggle.
I've started adding these changes to my routine, and we'll see what happens. I'm heading to Santa Fe in a week where there will be lots of walking (but no climbing on ancient Indian ruins) and exploring. I'm babying myself a big this week, and expect a day or so of R and R when I return, but this is what works for me.
I still have other changes I want to make, and changes I want to explore. I've started taking ibuprofen during the day and aspirin at night (I take 300 mg at bedtime, so if I need something else I add the aspirin). I'm not ready to jump into acupuncture quite yet, explore more serious supplements or explore the edibles now available in my state (although I do plan to discuss it with my general practitioner at my next appointment). There are teas and tincture's and there is a cream that is only prescription in the us (but I could get over the counter in Europe) that I may go back to.
I'm hoping these lifestyle and therapy changes will increase my ability to move on the ground, decrease my pain, and not alter the way I live my life too very much.
So what about you? How do you treat pain (arthritis or otherwise) if you have it? Do you look for new solutions, or stick "traditional" choices? Is it working for you?