Friday, August 1, 2014

Natural Solutions for Those Aches and Pains-I'm Experimenting

 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?

23 comments:

  1. When I have pain I try anything besides medications. I've haven't been to the doctor in years at 62 year of age. I do have some flare up from a serious car wreck in 2010. Those have happened again for most of the month of July. I like using massage therapists especially those that specialize in reflexology. I take ibuprofen when needed and do transcendental meditation at times. It is a technique that I was taught in 1974 for $40. Now I hear that same teaching is over $1,000's. The meditation does help in taking about the numbness of my arm and pain under my right shoulder blade ...resulting from the car accident.

    It was tough to do but I gave up dairy a this past year due to excessive indigestion. In April I also gave up grains of any kind. I have brown rice on rare occasions.

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    1. I so admire you for the dairy thing. I do like my glass of milk. I'll keep the grains for now. I think I'm going to have to slow down and try massage. I can see it now. Just my knees, please.

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  2. If acupuncture is in fact successful with this type of pain please consider giving it a try. I used it quite successfully for a totally different problem and would do so again in a heartbeat. I am curious why you are resistant to giving up your glass of milk, etc. to see if it helps?

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    1. Hi Juhli. I expect I certainly will look at that in the future. Right now my doctor and I were looking for things I could do for myself around home or on the road to make a difference.

      As for the milk issue I guess for me its a quality of life issue. I LOVE milk, I take it at bedtime for some large stomach upsetting type of pills. I prefer life to be lots of things in moderation and am attempting to make that work in this case. Just as when I lost 100 pounds I cut down sugar but did not give it up and moved to one tiny can of coke a day. I do eat all low fat dairy and one percent milk. Not ruling anything out, just not jumping into abstinence right now-especially when the jury is generally out on diet and arthritis.

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  3. Now you have me thinking about what I do for my fibro pain.

    Usually I do simple, smooth yoga stretches. The alternating of heat and cold.

    If all else fails I take Tylenol and rest in my chair for awhile.

    Meditation does help a little bit at times.

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    1. Its always nice to experiment and find new solutions if you can-and know when youre having issues and you need to baby yourself.

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  4. I've suffered from arthritis and sciatic pain. Many years ago I was told by a dr that strong muscles make strong joints so I continue to exercise. This includes daily walking and 4 hrs of grass cutting every 4 days this summer. Also, acupressure treatments and massage have been very helpful as has yoga.

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    1. Oh yes, exercise is so important. I just do mine in seated aerobic form or hit the therapy pool for water walking. I forgot to mention that building up the muscles around the knee are important so I also do some weight work and leg exercises.

      That's a lot of grass cutting!!

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  5. I think I'm the only person left in America who still believes in old-fashioned doctors. So far, mine have been good to me, and I think modern medicine has saved my life two or three times over (including the colonoscopy that found a polyp at age 51 that surely would have turned into deadly colon cancer). And I have not been overtreated, either. I've found physical therapy has helped enormously in the past, after a couple of injuries, and to help with some back pain. And now I rely mostly on low-impact exercise, lots of stretching, watching my weight ... and an occasional aspirin or Advil. But in the end, you have to find what works for you; and it's not necessarily the same thing that works for someone else. But acupuncture? Eeek! Gives me the willies! Anyway, good luck and best of health!

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    1. Hi Tom. Just to be clear I love my Dr, see her regularly and take a variety of medicines, and have all the tests and all the vaccines. I don't reject drs. In this circumstance I reject surgery and most arthritis meds are bad for folks who are at risk for strokes. Since I have severe rather than normal arthritis and knee pain I need to look outside the box.by severe I mean not sleeping at night. As for acupuncture I'm sure I would need to be blindfolded, lol.

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  6. Barb, a few years ago when I was in desperate pain (hip, back, knee, and feet) I stumbled upon Mercola.com and researched "tapping" (EFT). It sounded a bit bizarre, but it has helped me immensely. Like I said, I was at the point where I couldn't do much and my life was being adversely affected by my pain. Give it a try--doesn't cost a cent and no side effects (as we face with meds and surgeries). There might be an example on Youtube, also. Best wishes to you.

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  7. I have some shoulder issues and also recently hurt my knee and hip by over exercising. Luckily, my husband is a chiropractor so I can have him examine me to rule out fractures or tears. After I get that good news, Then I start with NATURAL remedies,almost always. I found something called the Frederickson protocol online for the hip/knee.NOTHING ELSE was working. Internet research can glean SO MUCH GOOD INFO!! After 3 weeks of pain, I got relief in 3 days from the exercises, and I am continuing to do the strengthening exercises daily. I also turn to ACUPUNCTURE, it helps the shoulder as well as a lot of of her things too! Deep tissue massage has always made me WORSE . I believe aromatherapy is potent,I also use it for lots of health care and relaxation. Most of the time I find natural remedies do work,sometimes a little slower than harmful medicines and CERTAINLY better than surgery in many many cases.I had a flare of of severe foot pain a few years back.. our podiatrist friend wanted to inject cortisone.NOOOO! I had ONE Acupuncture treatment and it cleared up entirely.I believe it is always best to work with natural remedies FIRST, then escalate your interventions IF necessary. I will use ipbuprofen at night to calm pain and help me sleep while using natural remedies. if needed. Glad you're getting some relief too!!

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    1. Madeline, I will have to look that one up online once I get a chance. I'm just exploring aromatherapy. I would not do deep tissue massage, it is very gentle massage that I do for myself and that I would have done professionally. I need to research both acupuncture and the insurance coverage soon. Thanks so much!!

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  8. Note-this comment was accidentally deleted by my fat fingers on my tablet so I am copying and pasting from email. my apologies in advance, this comment came from tmgbooks.com:

    I have two old sports injuries, plantar fasciitis in my right foot and a pain in my left knee at the MCL that first started hurting almost twenty years ago after a half-marathon.

    Both injuries tend to flare up when I gain weight. Right now I am on the Pollan eating plan to get back under 170 after a recent high of 188.

    I need to watch my diet; my goal is to reach my weight goal and stay there. But it is exercise alone, I believe, that holds back the years to the extent it is even possible to slow down the effects of aging--not medicines, although they help with the symptoms, certainly.

    I plan to try massage, particularly of my feet. I do take Crestor and an aspirin a day for lipid issues. I have read online that cholesterol drugs can cause joint pain but that concern in over-whelmed by my desire to keep my various lipid counts in line.

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  9. HI, thanks for commenting and I'm sorry about the comment. Cholesterol drugs can also make you feel like you have chronic fatigue syndrome (ask be how I know). It's been suggested that I take the supplement CoQ10 to combat that and I am considering it. I agree, exercise and eating are important. Unfortunately with severe chronic pain alternative exercises have to get used in my case. Thanks so much for commenting and I'll check out your book.

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  10. No one mentioned the use of compression on arthritic knees/legs. By accident I found it helpful. My dr said I must wear a quality compression hose after having deep vein injections. I purchased them in his office, and was pleased to have a positive side effect of reduced pain in my arthritic knees. Not fun getting off and on, but wearing with a long skirt they really are comfortable. I wear the open toed Sigvaris or Jobst brand. There's probably others just as good. The medical grade I wear is a 20-30mmHg. It is imperative that measurements be accurate, and there is a size chart to go by. A nurse measured me to be sure I purchased the right size.
    They really are helpful on long trips. I'm also a believer in physical therapy. A Chinese therapist discovered that some of my knee/leg pain was actually coming from degeneration in my spine. Now I do specific exercises to help. If only I could sleep through the night!

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    1. Interesting info, thanks. Unfortunately in my case I have external nerve and pain damage. I cannot stand for things to touch the knee. Therapy always helps.

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  11. I do a lot of walking (at least 2 miles each walk) and now, in summer, a lot of daily swimming. In the fall and spring I go to my local college which has an olympic-sized heated pool and swim as much as I can. In the summer I use our community pool. I still take walks outside as far along as December, but once the snow falls, I'm out of the northeast. This year I will be spending 3 months in Florida (previously, it was only 1). I detested being inside the house so much last winter that this year I have rebelled! I NEED to continue walking and swimming. It's the only exercise I can do adequately and with benefits. I do yoga stretches, but after 30 years of yoga, you'd think I would be a master or something. I'm not. I still only do the basic poses.
    I will NOT take any prescriptions. The side effects are so not worth the trouble! If my arthritis gets really bad, I take an Aleeve. I also every. single. day. take a hot, hot bath in my jacuzzi. It's the only thing I insist on. I won't move unless the new home has a jacuzzi or deep, garden tub (which many Florida condos ban, as I found out the hard way). DH and I just started RVing and I won't book a campsite unless it's a resort with a hot tub. Sorry. But it's the only way for me.
    My weight has been steady for decades: slightly overweight. There's nothing I can do BUT I seriously believe that it remains constant only because I walk and swim. I hate to think how awful I would get if I didn't do those things.
    Other than a daily Vitamin B12 and an occasional multi, there really isn't much else that I do. I've had arthritis since I was 40. Been living this way for over 20 years. And counting. Works for me.

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    1. It sounds like you are doing lots of good things. I wish I could walk all the time, I do miss it. I suspect my additional difficulty comes from the additional knee injury and extra pain and nerve sensitivity that elminates lots of the traditional therapies for me

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  12. I had plantar fasciitis in both feet when I had hardwood floors about 10 yrs ago. My podiatrist told me to wear Birki's ALL the time, even when I get out of bed to go to the bathroom. I did and that was cleared up. Now I have hardwood floors again and am having some trouble. Out come the Birki's! I also put an indoor-outdoor rug-carpet in my kitchen and that helps. I think a lot of the foot problems today are caused by hardwood floors! http://www.zappos.com/birkenstock-birkis-haiti-by-birkenstock-blue I wear them with socks in the winter and, yes, I look like an old hippie! Who cares as long as the pain is gone?!

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    1. I don't wear birkis bit I am looking for sandals to wear with socks. Probably Clark's. For years I actually wore a walmarts earth best sandal...best things in the world but they discontinued them.

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  13. For those of you who love your milk, I understand. I drink about two gallons a week. I prefer it to water or anything else for refreshment. I have received similar warnings as I have gastro problems, joint issues, etc. As a compromise, to avoid those issue and calories, but to continue enjoying my favorite beverage, I have learned to like skim milk over whole milk. I downgraded slowly, but can now drink about all I want without the issues I had with whole or even 2%.

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  14. I have back/shoulder/arm issues. Saw an osteopath for manipulative therapy for years. When my doctor was no longer available, I switched to a massage therapist, and that has worked quite well.

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