Saturday, May 25, 2013

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Psychological Implications For The Occupational Therapist Part 2

Patients newly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis needs to be treated with respect, and we as health care professionals need to recognize and be able to identify and recognize that they (the patients) have emotions, ideas, values, feelings, hopes - by doing this we affirm him or her, their identities, their beings, creating a positive effect on their self image and self esteem.

For this to happen smoothly, we may have to setup the environment in such a way that it facilitates such an encounter, or we facilitate the patient using guided questions, or getting them to participate in "open" activities that will help them to express. Many times, a simple listening ear is more than enough. From here, we can identify and check if they have any wrong understandings, or had apostrophized their rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, and correct them.

This does not mean that we belittle, ignore or minimize what they feel, think or believe, in fact even if the diagnosis and prognosis is not as good as we would like it to be, many patients with rheumatoid arthritis do not progress into severe disability and/or impairment. With compliance to joint protection program, energy conservation program as well as consistent exercise, many end up with fairly good control and results post diagnosis.

We must not overlook the patient's spouse, family and relatives - they may need help to, to understand the disease, it's potential progress, their prognosis, living and adapting to the disease. Of course, they may have different attitudes and personalities to managing loss and pain, some may be protective, some may be resentful, some angry, some appears to have given up hope etc. Some may give up, as the fear of long term care for a person with rheumatoid arthritis may seem daunting, and future plans totally altered.

Some partners, spouses and families responds with utmost love, appreciation, dedication and being positive, some are unable to cope, some withdraw, some even may choose to separate or divorce. There are many instances of role reversal, most often when the previous sole worker is diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis - this sometimes becomes difficult for both partners or spouses to accept, causing loss of perceived roles and self esteem, even resentment and anger for each other.

This plus financial costs of injuries as well as loss of potential incomes in the future, and this becomes a little more complex and painful. Social workers will be invaluable here, for family counseling, and to point in the direction of funding availability and help. Caregivers must be adequately prepared and trained, and educated on the possibility of social isolation, burnout and stress. There needs to be a scheduled time for rest, relaxation and recreation.

Promotion of independence and mobility will be continued with by the occupational therapist.

Arthritis - Types Of Arthritis

Arthritis is, sadly, a very common and very painful condition. It can make working and even basic living extremely difficult. In order for treatment to prove effective in combating the symptoms and to allow the sufferer to live as normal a life as possible, it is essential to correctly diagnose which type of arthritis the patient has. The two most common types of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, are very different in character and require completely different methods of diagnosis, as well as very different methods of treatment.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects as many as one in every hundred people. It is caused by a malfunction in the body's defence systems and nobody has yet been able to discover why this happens. The genes that are responsible for the problem, have been identified - but the exact means by which the trouble occurs remains unknown. The disease is not hereditary, no increased risk has been found if you have a sufferer in your immediate family. In rheumatoid arthritis extra blood flow causes joints to become swollen and painful and in extreme cases can even permanently damage the joint. It is essential to seek medical help to reduce inflammation, as the damage to joints is permanent and irreversible.

Osteoarthritis is a completely different condition, which affects the bones. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, there appears to be no genetic factor involved with osteoarthritis, although there are several factors that increase the risk of the condition developing. Osteoarthritis is rare in young people, suggesting that in certain cases it is wear on the bones that causes the disease to develop. Overweight people are far more susceptible to the condition, especially with the knee joints, which suggests that excess strain put on a moving joint area will be a major factor in bringing on the condition. Stiff joints are the main symptom of osteoarthritis.

Although these two forms of arthritis account for the vast majority of sufferers, there are in fact over two hundred distinct types, These types affect all sections of the population, young and old alike. Some forms of the condition, such as ankylosing spondylitis, affect more men than women - which is in direct contrast to the two major types, where far more women are affected. Systemic lupus erythematosus, another very uncommon form of arthritis, is found in nine times the number of women than it is in men. One of the most common forms of arthritis, which is usually thought of as a completely different condition, is gout. This extremely painful problem is caused by uric acid and is at least controllable with correct treatment. Sometimes arthritis can be a purely reactive condition brought on by another kind of medical condition. In this case, the symptoms will usually disappear of their own accord, always provided that no permanent damage has occurred.

As arthritis comes in so many diverse forms, it is essential to get a correct diagnosis before attempting to treat the condition. The first port of call is usually the general practitioner, who will often be able to do some basic tests immediately. Usually, however, the patient will need to be sent to a local hospital for blood testing and X rays. In larger medical centres more advanced tests may be available and specialists in the condition may be on hand to advise. Once a correct diagnosis has been completed, there is much that modern medicine can do to relieve the pain of the condition and allow the sufferer to live a normal life, even if the arthritis cannot actually be cured permanently.

EMS - A Cure for Osteoarthritis?

EMS stands for Electro Muscle Stimulation. In simple terms an electronic machine is used to stimulate the muscles. In more complicated terms it is a low voltage waveform, applied through conductive pads, placed at strategic points on the body, to stimulate muscle motor nerves.

Normally when we exercise the brain sends signals via the spinal cord to nerve sensors which cause our muscles to expand and contract. As we continue to exercise lactic acid builds up in and around the muscle and we start to tire.

An EMS machine works by applying a controlled signal to stimulate the same nerve sensors, causing the muscle to expand and contract. The increased blood flow to the muscles helps deliver the essential nutrients for recovery, speeding up the rehabilitation process. The work relaxation cycle of an EMS machine also facilitates the removal of lactic acid from the muscles, allowing them to relax quicker.

The medical profession use EMS machines to treat a variety of conditions in rehabilitation units with encouraging results. Most treatments are specifically for conditions which require muscle stimulation. They are most commonly used on people whose muscles have weakened after long periods of bed rest.

Osteoarthritis of the knee, a condition more often found in older people, is usually caused by general wear and tear on the knee joint from normal day to day activities. Sometimes it can be the result of some old injury sporting or otherwise. Knee problems are often exacerbated by lack of proper support to the knee joint by the surrounding muscles. The end result is deterioration of the knee cartilage resulting in more pain.

Strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee is key to easing the pain of Osteoarthritis sufferers. Health care providers usually start off by having patients work on strengthen their quadriceps (the large group of muscles which run along the front of the leg from the knee to the hip). EMS is introduced as an additional therapy, along with a number of other non load bearing exercises, particularly for osteoarthritis patients, to improve muscle strength. EMS offers great benefits for the elderly, who tend to be the most common sufferers osteoarthritis, as well as other patients with limited mobility.

Another benefit of using an EMS machine is the TENs effect some programs have. (TENs stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation where transcutaneous means through the skin.) Low rate programs usually between 2Hz to 5Hz with a pulse width close to 200uS encourages the release of endorphins which in turn gives pain relief that can last several hours.

EMS machines come in a variety of shapes, sizes and prices, depending on whether they are used for medical or body toning. Most machines used for medical purposes are small compact and portable and will have 4 electrodes, while body toning machines use multiple electrodes and may not be portable.

EMS is a treatment option for a wide range of injuries or conditions caused by or related to muscle weakness, as well as joint, tendon, and nerve injuries. It has also found a place in many other walks of life from beauty treatment to bodybuilding, often with some too good to be true claims. While no EMS machine will give you an instant six pack by sitting around supping beer, it does have a many uses in athletics, rehab and bodybuilding.

EMS machines should only be used on the advice of a doctor or other health professionals. They may not be suitable for certain conditions. Always follow the manufactures instructions supplied with the machine. EMS machines should never be used by people who have a pacemaker or have heart problems. Pregnant women should avoid using EMS machines as the affects on the unborn baby are not known. Never place EMS electrodes on your head or neck

Arthritis Trigger Finger - What is it and What Can You Do About It?

Stenosing tenosynovitis is more commonly known as trigger finger arthritis. There is a misconception that the trigger finger is the pointer or index finger when it comes to this kind of arthritis. This is because the index finger is particularly used in pulling the trigger of a gun. But the truth is arthritis trigger finger can occur in any finger of the hand.

What Is It?

Trigger finger is actually a "snapping" or "popping" of a finger of the hand as it is closed or opened. The snapping is the reason why it was called trigger finger in the first place. This condition is more commonly found in the index, middle and ring fingers. And the snapping is readily heard upon attempting to flex the fingers while making a firm grip. There is a sudden stuttering of the digit as it closes then snaps close instead of the usual smooth way.

Sometimes, the affected finger cannot anymore stretch back into position and there is a locking in that position so that the other hand will have to help it towards extension. Upon extension, another snap is heard. Pain accompanies the snapping, leading the patient to the doctor.

The popping of the finger is the hallmark of trigger finger and is usually worse in the morning upon getting up. But as the condition worsens, the popping becomes more regular. In the worst scenario, the bump or swollen part of the tendon may lock in place so that it gets stuck there.

What Causes Trigger Finger?

So how do we get this condition? Actually, trigger finger is an inflammation of the tendon that pulls the finger to a closed position upon flexion. It may also be caused by scarring in the same tendon. Most of the time, it comes in isolated cases. In this particular case, though, trigger finger comes with other symptoms within the hand that accompanies rheumatoid arthritis in the area.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an abnormal condition that is caused by wear and tear or overuse. So prolonged use of the fingers can eventually lead to micro-injuries that may later on swell and lead to trigger finger. Aside from this, rheumatoid arthritis has been found to be a hereditary condition where it runs in families. Therefore, adding wear-and-tear may trigger it onset or exacerbate the already-present condition.

In 2005, it has been found that most of the patients with rheumatoid arthritis come with symptoms of swelling around the tendons of the palm, later on leading to trigger finger. The onset of this condition is gradual and is more commonly seen in women with the fourth finger being the most commonly involved. Studies also prove that trigger finger does not come from heavy use but with light constant use of the area.

How Can It Be Treated?

If we do get trigger finger, what can we do treat it? There are home remedies available for the treatment of this condition and for most types of arthritis in general. Doing passive stretching of the hand and fingers toward extension is a good way to prevent the formation of adhesions in the area and to improve blood circulation as well. Putting ice intermittently in the area for 15 minutes or more actually lessens the swelling that goes with inflammation. The most important is activity modification where the movements that causes more symptoms should be avoided altogether.

But of course in most instances, trigger finger cannot be treated by home remedies alone. Doctors prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs that are very helpful for the healing of the part involved. Usually, drugs like ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen are given to patients. The fastest relief is the injection of a local cortisone around the affected tendon.

Splinting the area is also a solution to prevent usage of the tendons. This will prevent the worsening of the inflammation.

There are cases when even after 2 cortisone injections, there is no relief for the patient. This is when surgery is required to remove the scarred or inflamed tissues. Almost half the number of patients respond to cortisone injection. Those who don't resort to surgery. Although with little risk, there are cases that recur after the operation. But this is only done if the rest of the treatment therapy have been tried but were not successful.

If you feel that you are starting to show symptoms of arthritis trigger finger, do not panic. Consulting the doctor is still the best remedy. It is better to catch the condition while it is still beginning. The later you go to a doctor, the more likely that you are going to undergo surgery. So don't be scared, see your orthopedic doctor right away.

Tumeric - Arthritis Suffers Get Relief From Swelling

This yellow spice from Asia is rapidly gaining popularity in North America and for good reasons, and it's not just about cooking. This is because with tumeric, arthritis sufferers can reduce their pain and swelling in a natural way. Particularly rheumatoid arthritis, an auto immune disease, that make the lives of millions of North Americans miserable. Joints are primarily affected and they become inflamed and painful and eventually even crippled. You can observe this where people's fingers are crooked and can't function properly. This is very painful and even simple daily tasks like opening doors or doing up buttons becomes almost impossible.

Although tumeric has many benefits, one of the main ones for people with arthritis is its anti-inflammatory properties. The Latin name for this spice is curcuma longa and it is the curcumoids that it contains that is important for arthritis. This spice can generally support the health of your joints as well as all your bones. Not only that, it has great antioxidant properties which means that it helps fight disease in your body. Another advantage is that it relieves stress and supports your blood health. These are all really important if you have any form of arthritis.

Ayurvedic medicine in India has used it for thousands of years to help in many ailments. These include iron deficiency, common colds, flu and where its antiseptic qualities are needed - for example to clean the digestive tract. The spice is grown throughout Asia and its healing properties are fully appreciated in India, China, Polynesia and even Hawaii where it is known under the name of olena.

If you enjoy curry, then you have been eating this spice. It has an intense yellow color and is one of the main ingredients in curry. It is sold as a yellow powder. You can buy it in supplement and capsule form. It is important to buy good quality tumeric. 100% certified organic is the way to go, especially if you are using it for health concerns. If you buy supplements, be sure to read the label to make sure your supplement is not mostly made up of fillers. The same applies to capsules - don't buy ones made of gelatin but use the ones made of vegetable extracts. This attention to details really pays off.

It's easy to research on the internet or simple visit your health food store. You will find that with the help of tumeric, arthritis may be more manageable, and that's a great thing.

Arthritis Pain Relief - The Diet That Worked For Me

Arthritis sufferers today are continually seeking relief from their arthritis pain. I got rid of my arthritis symptoms and arthritis pain years ago by making a change in my diet and lifestyle.

Arthritis pain is most usually experienced whenever a stiff or swollen joint is used. Arthritis is usually found in the joints of the fingers, feet, knees, hips, and spine. In osteoarthritis, any one or more of the affected joints can experience a progressive loss of cartilage, which is the slippery material that cushions the ends of bones.

The combination of the collagen meshwork and high water content tightly bound by proteoglycans creates a resilient, slippery pad in the joint, which resists the compression between bones during muscle movement. Cartilage is the slippery tissue that coats the ends of the bones. Cartilage contains a high percentage of water and decreases with age.

An inflammatory response causes cytokines to gather in injured areas and cause inflammation and damage to body tissue and cells. It's known to play a role in a systemic form of arthritis - rheumatoid arthritis, and other muscle and joint problems associated with autoimmune diseases. Aging cells could be a significant factor in the development of arthritis and specifically osteoarthritis. Although osteoarthritis generally does go along with aging, osteoarthritic cartilage is chemically different from normal aged cartilage.

Natural arthritis treatment is usually a better choice - it's non-invasive and usually anti-inflammatory if living plant foods are consumed. I know quite a few people who are treating and relieving their arthritis pain by drinking tart cherry juice made from a concentrate; make sure it's the tart kind. Some of the foods and beverages to avoid that are inflammatory are: caffeine, salt, sugar, meat, dairy products, additives, soft drinks, white flour, white rice, alcoholic beverages, fast food, processed vegetable oils, refined, packaged and processed food.

Many people have told me that going off of dairy products and foods containing gluten, like wheat, barley and rye especially, relieved them of arthritis pain entirely. An acidic diet, that is any foods that are not alive, is considered to be inflammatory to one's joints. Try avoiding seven of the eight most allergic foods - wheat, which is the most allergenic, corn, eggs, milk, peanuts, fish and shellfish.

If you're not already doing so, make a big effort to change your diet. Watch your diet closely - load-bearing joints are affected by excessive weight; hips, knees, feet and spine.

Many people, including one well-known professional golfer, still wear copper bracelets and swear by them. And a recent study in Great Britain touted the beneficial effects of cod liver oil in osteoarthritis for relieving pain and stiffness, and beginning the reversal of the destruction of joint cartilage within 24 hours.

Stretching and warming up the joints should always be the first step in your exercise routine to make your joints more flexible. But be careful in the morning; you may need an hour or more of moving around first; you can start by moving your limbs around in bed a few minutes before you get out of bed. If you have pain and swelling in your fingers, try squeezing Thera-putty which is made for this purpose, or exercising them with two chime balls. Even the lightest exercise can go a long way to maintaining your joint mobility and overall good health. Fight arthritis through lots of movement and exercise!

The important exercises for arthritis include: range-of-motion exercises, isometrics, and some weight-bearing exercises. For arthritic fingers, a good exercise is to put your finger tips together, press hard and release, then repeat several times. Exercise all your affected joints every day, to keep them fluid and flexible.

Once you become completely informed about arthritis you'll be able to plan an arthritis treatment program that's right for you - natural or conventional or a combination of both. And only you know which arthritis treatments are best for you. Be aware that the use of pain relievers like NSAIDs or COX-2 inhibitors do not halt the progress of osteoarthritis and may even hasten the onset; additionally the side effects may outweigh any benefits.

But changing my diet totally to a raw diet of plant foods - that is fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, stopped all my arthritis pain and stopped the damage to my joints to this day. The biggest secret to arthritis pain relief is a change in the diet; eat plant foods that are alive not cooked. Your treatment plan should include an anti-arthritis diet, movement, exercise, and a positive mental attitude. The right diet may stop the progression of your arthritis and stop the pain that goes with it.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hand Arthritis - The 3 Different Types Of The Disease

Arthritis of the hand is one of the more common forms of arthritis. Because the hand contains many joints, the risk of having hand arthritis is higher than in other parts of the body. It is composed of two bones on each forearm, and nineteen bones on the hand excluding another additional eight smaller bones.

The most common kinds of hand arthritis are: post-traumatic (arthritis which occurs as a result of someone having an accident), rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.

Post-Traumatic Hand Arthritis

Post-traumatic is usually associated with pain as the hand went through possible pressure that caused inflammation. This usually goes away after a while as the swelling subsides, although in some cases where the trauma was severe therapy or even hand surgery may be required.


Osteoarthritis of the hand is another type which becomes more likely to happen as old age nears. People 40 years old and above are the most common victims of hand osteoarthritis. Some studies suggest low levels of Vitamin K as a probable cause of osteoarthritis.

This is a degenerative condition, and years after diagnosis it may often deform the hand making movement more difficult, making simple chores using the hand more complicated.

The joint called carpal-metacarpal, found in the thumb is frequently the part people with osteoarthritic hands complain of. The small bones between each finger with cartilages covering the bone become irregular.


Another kind of hand arthritis is the more complex rheumatoid arthritis. Here the synovial tissues of the hand affect the bone that is enclosed by a cartilage. The inflammation in the tissue hampers what is normally a fluid movement of the joint.

Those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis of the hand usually also endure arthritis in different parts of the body. Like osteoarthritis it is also more common to people with old age as this comes from exertion of joints accumulated through the years.

The knuckles and the wrist are the common victims of this pain. Tendon fissure may also be amassed after a while of living with its symptoms. This may also deform the hand if inflammation spreads through the ligaments around the tissue.

Rheumatoid arthritis differs among patients. Others suffer from this only for short periods of time and then lose all symptoms altogether while others go through with its consequent pain endlessly with the pain flaring at times. Some subsequently develop into permanent damage that disables them forever.

Symptoms Of Hand Arthitis

Nagging pain in the hand is the first symptom of hand arthritis. Swelling is also an accompaniment together with difficult movement. Mundane tasks such as grabbing or pinching becomes difficult. A squeaking sound may also be noticed and the misshapen hand becomes apparent.

A thorough evaluation by an orthopedic doctor that will assess the severity of the hand should be established. The physician usually subjects the patient to an x-ray and blood test if soreness is evident.

Possible Cures For Hand Arthritis

There is no single cure for hand arthritis that ultimately could eliminate the disease and prevent it from re-occurring. The most frequent solution is pain relievers prescribed by doctors to ease the suffering of the patient. There are those that require anti-inflammatory medications often already present in those pain killers. Steroids taken orally can also be another form while others require injections of corticortisone of the area affected by arthritis.

There are also specialists called rheumatologists who can closely monitor your medication and therapy to give you instructions on the proper management of your arthritis. This could be great as he can cater directly to what drugs or exercise your arthritis pain is most comfortable with.

Another way to deal with arthritis is through surgery. This is recommended for those who suffer from advanced stages of arthritis. There are different kinds of surgery for different types of arthritic problems.

Hand surgeons fix tendon fissures through grafting or through transferring tendons to the damaged area. Joint lining extraction, synthesis, replacements may be performed. In extreme cases bone removal may be needed. This just goes to show that hand arthritis is a serious condition, so if you suspect that you may have it, you should take action as soon as possible.

Pain Control - Coping With Arthritis

How pain control helps you cope with your arthritis.

Living with a degenerative joint disease such as arthritis often means living with severe aches and pains associated with these diseases. Knowing how to alleviate the pain comes from learning about how to control the disease. There are different types of arthritis and knowing which type you have affects what treatment may be needed. However, before beginning a treatment plan, let's learn some basic concepts regarding pain.

  • Aches and pains are not all the same.Just as there are different types of arthritis so are there different types of pain. Along with that, each patient is also different and it may take trying different treatments to find the best pain control method that works best for you.

  • What causes pain? Most will occur to alert us that something is wrong with our body. Our nerves release chemical signals then transmit the signals to our brain. There are short-term signals like we get when touching something hot to help keep us safe. Long-lasting pain experienced with arthritis is a different kind of hurting. This type must be managed with proper pain control to improve our comfort levels and improve the quality of life.

  • How do we control pain? Our brain and spinal cord has an arrangement of nerves that our pain signals travel through. Creating chemicals either naturally or with supplements that interfere and block these signals will help stop pain.

There are many factors that can contribute to the aches and pains with arthritis that include:

  • Inflammation- Responsible for causing swelling and redness in the affected joints.

  • Injury to joint tissues- Resulting from pressure, stress, injury or the disease process of the joints.

  • Fatigue- A basic result of the arthritic disease process, which makes the pain build up and thus more difficult to handle.

  • Depression and stress-Limited movement and being unable to enjoy countless activities can make depression a serious issue caused by this disease. Increased aches and pains, stress, depression and the loss of abilities can make the overall pain control management more difficult.

What contributes to the increase of aches and pains associated with arthritis?

Depression, Anxiety, Fatigue, Focusing on pain, Overdoing physical activity, Stress, Increased disease activity.

What helps with the pain control associated with arthritis?

Cold or heat treatments, Topical pain relievers, Distraction, Massage, Supplements and Medications, Relaxation, Appropriate low impact exercises, Humor, positive attitude and pleasing thoughts

What ever the type of arthritis you may have there is sure to be some level of joint pain that you will have with it. It is important to find ways to cope with the best pain control possible to ensure your happiness and a good quality of life.

Is There a Better Way to Treat Arthritis?

Bone and joint pain is on the rise, especially with increased fitness activities, injuries and the aging population of baby boomers. Management of bone and joint disorders and chronic bone pain can be very difficult. Follow up is frequently needed for established and chronic problems for the best management. Proper evaluation is essential and there are multiple ways to protect and improve your joint health.

I am including general information about bone & joint health including arthritis. I find that reducing inflammation, no matter what the cause, is always helpful for joint pain. The major purpose of drugs/medications has been to reduce inflammation. Changing your diet is helpful. Exercise of some sort, especially resistance exercises are very important. Weight management is important as obesity is a major risk factor for the well being of your joints.

The evaluation process must consider previous injuries/surgery, tendonitis, congenital disorders, arthritis, degenerative joint disease, osteoporosis, bone spurs, disc problems, fibromyalgia, neuromuscular and autoimmune disorders, multiple myeloma, bone cancers, rotator cuff tears, pelvic instability syndrome, vascular problems, etc. requires a thorough and ongoing review of your history and a (repeat) physical exam.

A review of family history for arthritis and autoimmune disorders, injury and work history for possible wear and tear or overuse problems, previous surgery, a dietary and nutritional review, weight issues such as chronic obesity, and a smoking history is important in the evaluation of bone, joint and muscle disorders.

Diagnostic tests might include x-rays of affected joints, a bone density test to rule out osteoporosis, DEXA scan, a bone scan, BIA (bioelectrical impedance analysis) test, and lab tests that include bone markers including calcium, phosphorus, alkaline phosphatase and vitamin D (25-OH D3 levels), thyroid and parathyroid studies, hormone studies, immunoglobulin studies, a PET scan, a bone scan, RHEUMATOID FACTOR, an ANA and possibly an MRI, and an EMG, or biopsy, as indicated, just to name a few.

Nutritionals include: Omega three fatty acids -fish oil-- (epa/dha) Higher doses from two to five grams) , SAMe, hyaluronic acid (collagen type II), strontium, chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, and natural progesterone support bone health. In addition, adequate intake and a good source of Vitamin D (not milk (100 IU) and at least 1000-2000 IU (testing is recommended for the best dose) of vitamin D3 (and sunshine, if tolerated--20 minutes without sunscreen is 25, 000 IU) are now recommended, calcium, magnesium and vitamin K are very useful for bone health. Vitamin K cannot be used if on blood thinners, such as coumadin. Glutathione (IV, inhaled or via oral liposomal products) and it's precursors (alpha lipoic acid, glutamine and cysteine/N-acetylcysteine) along with Vitamin C, are very useful for helping to reduce pain.

Additional supplements that are very useful for bone and joint health are Kaprex, Kaprex AI, EC Matrixx, Cal Apatite and Ostera which are all made by Metagenics.

Acute pain management needs the immediate attention of your doctor, a specialist or the emergency department. For more resources, or product information, please email me.

Preventing Osteoarthritis in Men Over 50

Over 50? Take action now to limit your osteoarthritis risk

If you're a man over age 50, your odds of getting Osteoarthritis are going up. In fact, research shows that by age 60, most men will have some form of this degenerative joint disease.

Osteoarthritis simply explained is a deterioration of the soft cartilage material lining our joints. The cartilage breaks down, leaving rougher, uneven surfaces where the joint grinds instead of slides. At worst, the cartilage can wear away entirely, leaving direct bone-on-bone contact.

Osteoarthritis normally shows up in the following joints:

  1. Hips

  2. Knees

  3. Spine

  4. Shoulders

While osteoarthritis causes are subject to much discussion, two main factors seem universal:

  1. Joint overuse or repetitive stress

  2. Joint injury

In limiting the risk of osteoarthritis, we will focus primarily on joint overuse and repetitive stress.

Regarding joint injury, leading a high-impact lifestyle, where you're likely to fall hard or impact the joints with blunt force, will increase your osteoarthritis risk. But hey, you gotta live your life, so make these lifestyle decision with discretion.

Osteoarthritis Causal Factors

Most men over 50 don't understand joints very well. For our purposes, it's important to understand that the skeletal system, including where bones connect as joints, aren't really designed to bear a lot of weight.

Our skeletal role is mostly just to provide a rigid structure for muscle attachment. The following two factors can contribute greatly to joint stress:

  1. Obesity; carrying too much weight

  2. Muscle atrophy; weak muscles

For example, if you're a man about 50 and six feet tall, your body weight should be in the neighborhood of 175 pounds, give or take a few. For this same person who might weigh, say 250 pounds, that's an extra 75 pounds of weight your body must support.

On top of that, throw in a sedentary lifestyle where muscles have shrunk to a limited capacity in supporting the joints. After all, a joint is really only as strong as the muscles and tendons that hold it together.

The combined effect is "settling into the joints", placing tremendous loads on the knees, hips, and spine. Now think of joint cartilage as the "contact points" of this load.

After years of abuse the joint cartilage just starts to fall apart.

Risk Prevention

Limiting osteoarthritis risk in men over 50 then is pretty self-evident, but it's up to you as the individual to take the right actions now, so here are the keys:

  1. Lose weight. Universally, this is the single best thing any man over 50 can do to improve overall health. However, specific to osteoarthritis, maintaining proper weight is an imperative.

  2. Strengthen your muscle base. Resistance training (weight lifting) is the best way to achieve muscle strength gains. If you don't have resistance training experience, find a reputable personal trainer to help start you. Any program must include total body strengthening with heavy emphasis on increasing core strength.

Osteoarthritis is not completely preventable in men over 50, however understanding the causes and taking specific action now will limit anyone's risk in a favorable way.

Remember, it's your body, the only one you'll ever have. It's up to you to take the steps required to maintain a healthy body and a healthy, happy life.

Arthritis Treatment - Releasing Joint Pressure

Arthritis is characterized by the inflammation on the joint that causes pain on the affected area. If you are looking for the right information on an effective arthritis treatment then you have come to the right place.

An Overview of Arthritis

Arthritis occurs when the area between the bones is inflamed causing discomfort; when you attempt to move pressure is exerted on the inflammation. This is a health condition that is also referred to as rheumatoid arthritis. Signs and symptoms vary from patient to patient; hence treatment and prognosis are different as well.

There are more than a hundred forms of arthritis but all are characterized by discomfort on the joint. Most of these are due to wear and tear and inflammation of the cartilage. It is one of the common chronic illnesses today.

Millions Suffer and are Seeking Arthritis treatment

Both men and women suffer from arthritis. It is a more common occurrence among adults but children and young adults are likely to suffer, as well. There are about 350 million patients suffering from arthritis around the globe. In the US alone, there are more than 40 million sufferers and almost 翹 of this data are children while half of those identified are under 65 years old.

What are the Causes and Symptoms of Arthritis?

Different causes are known depending on the form of the illness. There are injuries that might have led to the inflammation of the joints. Infections and disorders in the immune system could also cause this condition.

Symptoms include chronic pain, redness, swelling, and inflammation. Rheumatic diseases are also characterized by fever and feelings of fatigue and body malaise.

When to Get Medical Care

Sufferers who are feeling extreme swelling, redness, and stiffness around the area should immediately seek medical attention. There are cases when there is also an evident deformity of the affected area. This should not be taken lightly.

There are symptoms that persist for more than a week due to unexplainable reasons. When you have these symptoms, you should immediately seek medical attention. Early diagnosis is necessary lest the condition might lead to a more serious condition like paralysis.

What You Can Do

The treatment will depend on which form of arthritis a patient is suffering from, plus its severity and location. Doctors will also look into a patient's medical history for a more thorough and accurate prognosis.

Certain natural ways of healing can be undertaken. There are therapies that can be recommended. Simple massage and occupational therapy that will offer relief can be given to patients. Therapists will employ several techniques to help minimize stress and strain on your joints which can help alleviate discomfort.

For patients who want to try a natural method to treat arthritis, acupuncture is often recommended. It is the Chinese practice of using needles to ease discomfort and release the body's natural energy to heal itself.

A drug medication such as Tramadol is also often prescribed to help ease the discomfort while the cause of the illness is being treated, the pain reliever.

You can try the above tips but you must still consult a doctor so you will be given the proper arthritis treatment you need.

How Can Yoga Reduce Pain in Arthritis?

Arthritis is a chronic condition that affects body joints. There are over one hundred types of arthritis and the number continues to grow. The different types of arthritis manifest in the form of inflammations and are often associated with wear and tear due to long usage of the joints as in the case of osteoarthritis the commonest type of arthritis. Today, the combined family of arthritis is the leading form of chronic illness in the United States of America.

The causes of arthritis vary depending on the type but include injury due to wear and tear, infections in the joint and abnormal metabolism. Some predisposing factors include, inherited genes, body weight, some types of intense sports or work, advanced age, and previous injuries to joints. In some cases, the causes are not yet known. It is important to note that arthritis affects all types of people of different ages including children.

If you are wondering if you have arthritis, then the symptoms to watch out for include pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints. This often minimizes the ability to use and move these affected areas. There may also be sudden attacks in the big toe as in the case of gout arthritis. Joints are not the only areas affected. Many types of arthritis affect different parts of the body resulting in other symptoms such as fever, loss of weight and the swelling of lymphatic glands. Of course, only a medical doctor can diagnose if the condition affecting you is arthritis as certain drugs are known to have side effects similar to arthritis symptoms.

Diagnosis of arthritis involves physical examination by a physician and in some cases samples of blood, urine or joints fluids may be ordered. X-raying of the affected areas may also be necessary. The earlier the condition is diagnosed the better for the patient as this may prevent farther damage or even physical disability.

Once a case of arthritis is confirmed, a doctor will prescribe treatment to the patient. Although the treatment will vary depending on the type of arthritis, some common themes will include efforts to relieve the pain, slow down the progression, and to educate the patient. Common prescriptions include physical therapy, prescribed medication, dietary and life style changes. Patients may be advised to rest, exercise, and protect their joints. In some cases, it may be necessary to operate the affected areas.

A good example of such therapy is Dahn Yoga. It has been found that going through Dahn Yoga sessions can bring quick relief and help improve a patient's condition.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Link Between Smoking and Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin illness in which red scaly spots appear on the body and lead to itchiness. Psoriasis leads to red spots as a result of psoriatic plaques. Psoriatic plaques might result in inflammation as well as extreme skin turn over. These plaques are generally located on the elbows, scalp, feet, knees, genital as well as palms. Research shows that there might be a link between smoking as well as psoriasis and that smoking may be a trigger.

Psoriasis is an incurable skin disease and its degree may differ from one person to another. A few people might display just a few symptoms localized on a certain body part, whereas certain individuals might have it spread throughout the body. Psoriasis might likewise cause swelling of the joints therefore triggering "Psoriatic Arthritis". No specific reason has still been identified for psoriasis. It can be genetic or hereditary.

Psoriasis patients should not smoke as it has a tendency to worsen the problem. If you're already a cigarette smoker, try to cease this behavior since it would only aggravate the psoriasis even further. It's been noticed that on stopping cigarette smoking the psoriasis lesions have a tendency to go away progressively.

Along with cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption also needs to be checked as alcohol and psoriasis do not go together. Even possessing a small quantity of alcohol can trigger tremendous damage and accentuate the psoriasis.

Research exhibits that the pustular psoriasis on the feet and palms is afflicted by cigarette smoking to a fantastic degree. Stopping smoking completely instantly exhibits results by the reducing of the red psoriasis patches. If you wish to control the flare-ups of psoriasis as well as relieving yourself from agony and pain you have no choice however to get rid off your smoking cigarettes and alcohol consumption.

Psoriasis sufferers experience haphazard symptoms. A few days could be quite bearable while certain might be totally agonizing. There is no definite cure for this severe skin disorder. Scientific improvements have caused many most up-to-date treatments for minimizing psoriasis. You can now not simply control psoriasis effectively but likewise manage its spread to a very large degree.

Psoriasis does not have a single cure that would suit all patients. Dermatologists would take into consideration your sex, age, way of life, health situation and also the extent psoriasis has spread in order to offer a proper diagnosis. The correct diagnosis would aid the doctor in prescribing the therapy that would give the best results likely.

Psoriasis is tremendously affected by the state of your mind. Any stress can trigger of a flare-up of your psoriasis. Thus, possessing a good attitude in life is the key to possess a healthy body. Keep all negative factors faraway from your mind. If you want to cure psoriasis don't disregard the link between smoking and psoriasis. Stop smoking and keep psoriasis under control substantially. Stay positive and remain healthy.

Three Reasons Why Spinal Arthritis Is More Difficult To Treat Than Hip or Knee Arthritis

The joints of the spine are called facet joints. They are located on both sides of the spine at every level up and down the spinal column all the way from the skull down to the sacrum.

Each of these joints combines to allow humans an incredible range of motion of the spines, permitting bending and twisting to an exceptional degree. Unfortunately though, each of these joints has cartilage and it has the potential for arthritis either due to age with loss of cartilage or trauma with damage to cartilage and subsequent arthritis pain.

Spinal arthritis is more difficult to treat than that of an extremity such as the hip or the knee. Here are the three main reasons why this is the case.

1. The number of joints in the spine is much higher. When you're dealing with hip or knee arthritis, there is one on each side. When you're dealing with spinal joints, there is one on each side at every level. Each of them is prone to developing arthritis and pain. even though the joints are considerably smaller, arthritis at any one facet joint can cause just as much pain as arthritis in a knee or a hip joint.

Typically when a person develops arthritis in a facet joint, he or she has arthritis in multiple facet joints which would need to be treated. Figuring out which is causing the pain and treating appropriately is much more difficult in a spinal arthritis situation than for the hip or knee.

2. Figuring out the source of the pain is more difficult. Even the best trained spine doctors who are board-certified can only tell people 50% of the time exactly why their back hurts. This is one of the shortcomings of back pain treatment, that the world of modern medicine is simply farther along when it comes to hip or knee arthritis than for that of the spine.

What this means is that if a pain management doctor does an injection into one of the facet joints of the lumbar spine, it may relieve part of a person's back pain, but a decent amount of the time they will still have significant residual pain. Pain management doctors have developed some more specific techniques to delineate the source of a person's pain, including facet joint injections and medial branch blocks as diagnostic tools. This will continue to improve, however, currently it makes spinal arthritis more difficult to deal with than that of the hip or knee.

3. Surgical outcomes for spinal arthritis treatments are not as good as that of total joint replacement for the hip or knee. Out of all the surgeries done for quality-of-life in the world, total hip and total knee replacement are in the top five overall. They are unbelievable game changers when it comes to decreasing pain and increasing function.

The same cannot be said for surgery for spinal arthritis. Although artificial disc replacement has been in existence since 2004, it has not been shown to be as good of a procedure as extremity joint replacement. In addition, there is no FDA approved procedure for replacing the facet joints in the back of the spine. What this means is that if a person undergoes surgery for facet arthritis, it will involve a spinal fusion. Satisfactory results after these treatments are in the 50 to 75% range, whereas knee replacement surgeries are typically over 90% satisfactory with outcomes.

The hope is that with modern medical techniques advancing, diagnosing the exact areas of spinal arthritis will become more exact and the results will be better with surgery. For now, nonsurgical pain management treatment is actually very good at reducing pain. it just takes more diagnostic tools and thought-provoking maneuvers to make sure the proper levels are being treated with the appropriate procedures.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Beer - A Strange Relationship

Rheumatoid arthritis is incredibly painful and debilitating. The usual course of treatment involves taking steroids long term, as well as taking pain medication to help you deal with the pain, inflammation and soreness that goes hand in hand with the condition. However, new research from scientists in the UK seems to indicate that beer might be of significant benefit to those who suffer from RA.

What has scientists buzzing (as well as RA sufferers), is a study conducted with almost 2,000 participants. There were 873 people who consumed alcohol and just over 1,000 people who did not. All of these individuals had rheumatoid arthritis. The study found that those who drank more beer, wine or cocktails had less pain, less swelling of the joints and fewer problems than those who didn't drink at all.

Interestingly, the same study found that people who consumed alcohol on a regular basis were far less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis in the first place. That last bit is a real stumper for scientists, who are still unsure how alcohol can protect against RA and provide benefits for sufferers of the condition as well.

Of course, that doesn't give you carte blanche to become a lush in the hopes of preventing RA or treating the symptoms of your arthritis. The heaviest drinkers in the study were those who had just over 10 drinks in a single month, and doctors still suggest having no more than two beers or glasses of wine per day. However, even that small amount might be enough to help keep you from getting RA in the first place, or of alleviating the pain and disability associated with RA if you currently have it.

Of course, if you do have RA, then you need to have some other treatment options. Beer is great, but it's not going to do the job alone. You need to visit your doctor and discuss a treatment plan with him or her, and you need to add exercise to your diet, as well. It seems that more exercise can actually help you beat swelling, pain and disability, even though it causes pain in the short term.

Combined with a healthy diet, a limited intake of alcohol from beer or wine and the right medication, exercise can be a definite factor in helping sufferers reduce their symptoms both now and for the longer term.

Poto Cervesia,
Dustin Canestorp

The Benefits Of Acupuncture For Diagnosis And Treatment Of Arthritis

Acupuncture for diagnosis and treatment of arthritis is now becoming more prevalent but having your skin savagely poked with a series of long needles doesn't exactly sound like ideal comfort, especially when you are already living with arthritis, a rheumatoid disease characterized by it's trademark stiffness and pain. The ancient Chinese would beg to differ, along with the estimated fifteen million Americans who have tried the ancient Chinese needle therapy known as acupuncture. Around the Asian continent, acupuncture has been used for generations to alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain sufferers, like arthritis patients, for instance. Prospective "acupokees" should be aware that acupuncture therapy is used for treating arthritis, not diagnosing it. Although patients should garner a arthritis diagnosis before signing up for acupuncture therapy.

Studies in Arthritis and Acupuncture

More than twenty million Americans live with osteoarthritis (there are various forms of the condition, however). In fact, osteoarthritis is amongst the most frequent causes for physical disability in adults. Despite a history spanning more than two thousand years, it was 2001 before acupuncture was found to aid arthritis in the knee via a study by the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The study included 570 osteoarthritis patients over the age of fifty who had never before received acupuncture, surgery, or steroid injections. A control group was selected and these individuals received regular sessions of acupuncture. By the end of the first week, the acupuncture group experienced a surge in mobility and by the end of the study the group reported a forty percent decrease in pain and a forty percent increase in knee function.

Using Acupuncture For Treating Arthritis

Bigwigs of Western medicine aren't exactly sure just how acupuncture works to fight arthritis and similar diseases, but the skilled acupuncture who administer the therapy have an idea or two. According to therapeutic philosophy, pain is the result of a blockage of one of life's essential energies, qui. Stimulating certain points will put the flow of qui back in balance again, thus alleviating chronic pain in the process - Volia! A 1999 study even found evidence that acupuncture improves sleep.

During acupuncture therapy, very thin needles are inserted into precise point in the skin, these points are known as acupoints. It is these acupoints that may have the biggest influence on the connection between treating arthritis with the use of the acupuncture therapy. In addition to being poked and prodded, acupoints also react to magnets, currents of electricity, acupressure (hand pressure), lasers and even bee stings. Acupuncture practitioners have also been known to administer herbs along with wielding out some advice on making lifestyle changes at the conclusion of a session.

Studies demonstrate that some of designated acupoints are actually connected to sensitive bio-trigger points rich in nerve endings. And further studies show that tinkering around with those triggers can cause a mirage of biological responses, one of the many responses being the chemical release of endorphins. The release of endorphins is pivotal to acupuncture's influence on arthritis because the chemical serves as the body's own answer to Advil, Tylenol and Motrin, as a natural painkiller.

Acupuncture Checks and Balances

Acupuncture costs vary across the United States. But as a rule of thumb, first visits usually fall between $75 and $150, with cheaper follow-up treatments costing between $35 and $75. Health insurance accommodations of acupuncture vary, but advocates of using the therapy for the treatment of diagnosed arthritis cite the long-term benefits of it's hefty price tag, which include fewer doctor visits over time and saving a few bucks on prescriptions.

What Is Voice Box Arthritis?

Most people think rheumatoid arthritis affects only the small joints of the hands of feet. However, any joints in the body that contain cartilage and synovial fluid are targets for the disease.

Small joints in the voice box can be affected by arthritis. The larynx, or voice box, actually contains joints, called cricoarytenoid joints, that move the vocal cords to produce sound. If these joints become inflamed, which causes pain, then the vocal cords are not in the correct position to produce clear sound. As with other joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis, joint erosions and rheumatoid nodules also can be found, which may cause further damage. If these joints are affected to the point that they become fixed in place unable to move, there can be difficulty breathing. This constitutes a medical emergency.

About 25% of rheumatoid arthritis patients experience the symptoms above, plus a sense of fullness in the throat when swallowing or speaking, as well as occasional pain in the ears. There are small bones in the ear that are responsible for sound conduction. These bones, called ossicles, also have joints. When rheumatoid arthritis inflames or erodes those joints, they become less mobile.

Rheumatoid arthritis patients who have larynx or ear involvement as described above should have an ear, nose and throat specialist involved in their care, along with a rheumatologist. Ear, nose and throat specialists have special scopes to examine the throat and ears to make a correct diagnosis. If you have any of these symptoms and are bewildered by them, get to your doctor quickly.

Arthritis Treatment: Nerve-Related Knee Pain and How to Treat It

One of the most perplexing problems a rheumatologist faces is making the diagnosis in a patient who presents with knee pain. There are multiple causes of knee pain including arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, as well as a host of other conditions.

One very common problem that is often overlooked is knee pain occurring as a result of nerve-related pain.

There are three nerves that can be associated with knee pain. The first is the femoral nerve. This is a nerve that runs down the front of the thigh. While rarely a cause of knee pain per se, it can cause pain in the front of the thigh.

The second nerve that sometimes causes pain in the back of the knee is the sciatic nerve. Patients with degenerative arthritis or degenerative disc problems can develop pain that runs from the low back down the back of the leg. What is interesting is that sometimes a patient will have leg pain but no back pain.

The final nerve that can be associated with knee pain is the peroneal nerve. This is a branch of the sciatic nerve and runs along the outside of the leg. Where this nerve becomes an issue is in a patient with a knee replacement. While this situation doesn't occur now very often, in the earlier days of knee replacement surgery, women would sometimes receive knee replacement hardware meant for men.

These replacements would be a bit too large for the joint and what would occur is that the peroneal nerve that runs along the outside of the knee joint would get irritated.

When that happened the patient would have severe pain. The typical scenario is of a woman patient who continues to have knee pain after the joint replacement surgery. She goes to see the orthopedic surgeon who takes x-rays, puts the films up on the view box, and pronounces, "The knee replacement looks perfect!" And the patient would say, "But my knee still hurts..." And the orthopedic surgeon would shrug his shoulders and say, "I don't know why."

The treatment of nerve-related knee pain is dependent on making a correct diagnosis. Usually femoral and sciatic nerve root pain are spine related. So the treatment is aimed at relieving whatever is causing nerve root irritation in the low back.

Peroneal nerve related knee pain, if it's due to irritation from a knee replacement appliance, can be treated with ultrasound guided hydrodissection of the peroneal nerve. What this involves is using a small needle to inject a large amount of fluid in the nerve sheath and moving the peroneal nerve away from the appliance. This often affords long term relief.

In patients where peroneal nerve compression continues and gets worse, there is progressive numbness, tingling, and weakness in the leg. The diagnosis can be confirmed by electrical studies such as electromyography. Patients who don't respond to hydrodissection may require neurosurgical consultation.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rheumatoid Arthritis - There Is Still Hope

Back in February 2009, I came down with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I had no idea what was happening. I just woke up one morning and my feet and knees were stinging and burning. They just hurt, more than they had ever hurt before. I tried to put my feet on the floor, but the sharp stinging pain became intense as they touched the floor. As I looked at my feet and knees they were red, swollen and quite warm to the touch, and just touching them was quite painful.

I called my work to let them know I wouldn't be in that day. I then called my doctor and made an appointment for that afternoon. As the day went on, the pain became worse. By that afternoon I was forced to use crutches to get myself to the car. By the time I had reached the car, I was in tears, from the sharp stabbing pain each time my feet touched the ground.

My wife drove me to the doctor's and brought out a wheelchair for me. Again I had to stand to get into the wheelchair. I couldn't remember ever having such intense sharp stabbing pains. As my doctor evaluated my swollen feet and knees he ordered x-rays and sonograms and set up an appointment with a podiatric specialist within a few days. In the meantime, he gave me a prescription for pain medication, Hydrocodone.

Again, a few days later, I made my way to the car in tears and to the Podiatrist's Office. She went over my x-rays and scans and examined my feet and knees and told me that I should see a Rheumatologist. She suggested one about an hour away, saying he was one of the best in the area. After returning home and regaining my composure, I called to make an appointment with the Rheumatologist. The soonest they could get me in was six weeks. I couldn't believe they couldn't work me in sooner, but they insist that was the soonest available date. They did say they would put me on their cancellation list and if there were any cancellation they would get me in sooner, but there were already eight others on that list ahead of me.

For the next six weeks, I worked out the least painful routines, as far as bathing, going to the bathroom, pillow positions so I could sleep, and keeping anything from touching my feet. My feet were swollen so tight I couldn't even wiggle my ankles, more less my toes. My knees were so tender that any side pressure was extremely painful. So just trying to roll over in bed was a major painful ordeal. Those six weeks would have been totally unbearable if it wasn't for the TV and my laptop. The TV was a great distraction from the pain and the laptop kept me in touch with what was happening at work, in town or any where else. This was a lot better than just popping pain pills. In fact, I was able to stop taking the pain pills except when I was trying to get to sleep. I would take two about an hour before turning out the lights and I would sleep fairly well.

When I finally got in to see the Rheumatologist, he knew what was going on within a few minutes of examination. He took a few blood tests to confirm his assessment and check for any other problems. Then he wrote me a couple of prescriptions for Gabapentin and Plaquenil. The Gabapentin is used for nerve or neuralgia pain relief and Plaquenil which is a Hydroxychloroquine, is used for aggressive treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis, but it has serious side effects such as: It can cause blurred vision and light flashes; Can cause neurological problems, headaches, weakness in muscles, dizziness; May change your blood chemistry, white blood cell count, low platelets, anemia...; Hearing problems, even possible hearing loss; And even Liver and Kidney damage. He wanted me on Plaquenil because of the severity of my Rheumatoid Arthritis and wanted me back in 4 weeks to run more blood tests to check for any possible side effects. He also told me even with this aggressive medication, it would take 10 - 12 weeks before I would notice any changes or improvements. Now that was down right discouraging, and yes, it did take a full 12 weeks before I started noticing an easing of pain and reduction in swelling. One morning I woke up and I could roll my ankles a bit and wiggle my toes ever so slightly, and I was excited. It was more than I could have done in the past several months.

For the next three months I was able to get back to work in a wheelchair. I kept my feet propped up on a box under my desk to help to keep the swelling down. It was still very painful to stand just long enough to move from the car to the wheelchair or when going to the bathroom, especially that first month back at work.

As time went on, I was able to drive myself to work and get the wheelchair out of the back seat by myself. I had to practice this several times before I was able to do it without falling over. Have you ever seen a turtle on his back, well, that was me. Luckily I had the wheelchair out of the car when I lost my balance and went over. I was able to open the wheelchair and use it to pull myself up.

Each time I was able to do something new and/or better, it gave me a feeling of accomplishing something worth while. I kept trying to do new things, to do things better, and as I kept seeing improvements, it encouraged me to do more.

After three months in the wheelchair, I started getting around at home with a cane. My legs were getting stronger and I was becoming more stable as I regained strength back to my legs and ankles. I finally started using my cane at work and leaving the wheelchair home.

After about six months on Gabapentin and Plaquenil, the doctor took me off the Plaquenil and put me on Sulfasalazine, with the Gabapentin. The Sulfasalazine is used for milder cases of Rheumatoid Arthritis and has very few side effects. Now that my Rheumatoid Arthritis was under control, he felt the Sulfasalazine would be sufficient to control my joint inflammation and also it has fewer side effects; Temporary nausea and upset stomach. I only have one kidney, so I am very protective of it and I expressed that concern to my doctor on our second visit.

It has been a couple of years now and I am doing quite well. I have not been able to run laps, and my joints are a bit stiff in the morning, or after sitting for a while, but other than that, I'm happy to be able to just get around again.

Life is good when you are mobile. I hope this information is of some benefit to you and provides the encouragement you are in need of.

Thank you

Prevent Arthritis and Alleviate Symptoms by Meeting Your Dog's Nutritional Needs

Arthritis is a condition that affects humans and many types of animals including dogs. It is a degenerative condition in the joints that causes pain and discomfort for anyone suffering from it. For dogs it can be inherited with other disorders such as hip displasia or happen due to joint injuries. Joint infections and immune-mediated joint disease can also bring on arthritis. Some dogs have traits that are more commonly linked to the condition.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis found in dogs and averagely affects one out of five. It can be caused by aging or be found in younger dogs due to other conditions. Larger breeds and overweight dogs are affected more due to the additional stress put on ligaments and joints. Dogs experiencing this condition experience lameness, stiffness, and joint pain or discomfort. These symptoms are at their worst in the morning and after naps. They may become irritable and have behavioral changes. Cold and damp areas increase the symptoms. Osteoarthritis is progressive condition and can make your dog miserable.

A vet will take x-rays to check for space between the joints. Treatment includes physical therapy, weight control, pain relievers, and agents that repair the cartilage. Moderate exercise will maintain your dogs muscle mass and maintain the flexibility of their joints. Over exercising will cause negative affects. They should not be allowed to jump or stand on their back legs. Exercise should be done with a leash or harness so they do not further injure themselves. Swimming is one of the best exercises for them because it relieves joint pressure.

Another interesting item given for treatment of arthritis is chondro-productive agents. These serve the same functions that some dog supplements provide. While it is great to know what can be done to ease arthritis symptoms and help your dog be more comfortable, wouldn't it be better if you could lesson the affects of osteoarthritis or prevent it from occurring? This is very likely if your dog receives the proper nutrition they need throughout life.

Dog vitamins and supplements can be great preventative medicine for your pet. They help prevent many of the same diseases we experience due to aging and other health conditions. These helpful items help prevent joint conditions, promote healthy skin, strengthen the immune system, improve digestion, maintain brain functions, and prevent intestinal track infections. For years these products have been available as individual doses and giving them to your dog can be troublesome. Products are now available that allow you to give them all the things they need once a day with their food. Keeping your dog healthy is easy and costs less with these products.

Sometimes arthritis is caused by other conditions and unfortunately cannot be prevented. Supplements can help build cartilage between the joints and slow the affects of arthritis allowing your dog to be more comfortable. As their owner, it is your responsibility to do everything you can to prevent them from getting sick and ensure they have the nutrition they need. Give them a good supplement product that will not break your pocket but allow them to have a healthy and full life.

Rheumatoid Arthritis - What Are Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms?

Arthritis affects many people all over the world in the US alone over twenty million Americans are reported that are afflicted with this debilitating disease. Arthritis is the general condition involving the damage of the joints in the body. There are many forms of arthritis and one of the most common forms of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory form of arthritis that causes severe pain, stiffness, swelling, and inflammation. In rheumatoid arthritis, the autoimmune system of the body mistakenly attacks the tissues of the body causing the lining of the joints to swell, that can result in pain, swelling, and eventually become deformed. One characteristic of the disease is that it is symmetrical in nature, meaning both parts of the body such as the wrist, knees, elbows, and hips can be attacked at the same time and pain is felt on both sides of the body.

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can even bring daily activities such a burden like walking or holding a pen. The symptoms maybe chronic or it could be a transient disease. When the joints are inflame this is the active stage of the disease, which is also called flare ups or flares, the inactive stage is called the remission stage and this can be due to medication or treatment, and it can last for weeks, months or even years depending on the management and the severity of the disease.

The remission of the disease varies from person to person, though the reason for the recurrence is still unknown patients are given some pointers on how to manage the disease and how to spot the early onset of the rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may include general feeling of fatigue, malaise, fever, loss of appetite, muscle and joint pain and stiffness, which is usually felt during the morning after waking up; you feel stiff all over and have a hard time to move because of the pain. This can also be felt during prolong inactivity, the muscles becomes stiff and harden and movement is difficult. During this episode, the affected areas of the body are inflamed, swollen and warm, and the skin around the area is red and tender to the touch.

At the early onset rheumatoid arthritis only affects the small joints of the body, the fingers, wrist, ankles and feet. As the disease progresses large part of the joints are affected especially those that are weight bearing joints such as the hips, knees, elbows, and shoulders could be affected. Deformity is a common sight for people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis this is due to the rheumatoid nodules that sprouts around the bones, bones become brittle and eventually loss its function.

As of this date there are no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis, the treatment that is available right now aims to slow down the bone degeneration and maximize joint function, reduce the pain, swelling, and inflammation. Disease management involves family education, medications, rest, exercise for joint and bone strengthening and protection. Treatment varies from the stage of the disease, age of the patient and general health, support of the family is one of the important factors of the treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Live Better With Natural Arthritis Remedies

Facts about Arthritis

Arthritis refers to pain in various parts of the body including fingers, hips jaw, knees where a joint exists between bones. It can be severely painful because of joints being bounded by several nerves that are required to make these complicated joints function properly.

Arthritis is of many types of which Rheumatoid or Osteoarthritis is the most common. It can be caused due to several factors such as misalignment, dehydration, protein deficiency, calcium deficiency or inflammation.

Top 5 natural arthritis remedies -

Following are some of the best remedies to treat arthritis naturally

1. Sesame seeds- soak 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds in a cup of water and leave it overnight. Drink this liquid the first thing the next morning. This has proven effective in preventing recurrent joint pains.

2. Cinnamon- this herb is a remarkable natural remedy for arthritis in hands. Add a pinch of cinnamon powder with honey and have it every morning prior to breakfast. Continue this process for at least a month and feel the difference.

3. Alfalfa- a cup of tea prepared from Alfalfa seeds is effective in treating arthritis. Take a cup of boiling water and add 1 teaspoon of Alfalfa seeds. Drink 4-5 cups of this tea every day for a minimum of 15 days to reduce inflammation. One can also add small portions of alfalfa in their daily diet.

4. Cod Liver Oil- According to a research, consuming small amounts of cod liver oil daily can potentially reduce cartilage degeneration, one of the key symptoms leading to osteoarthritis. Furthermore, the omega-3 acids present in the oil helps in reducing the inflammation and pain associated with arthritis. Consuming 2-3 teaspoons of cod liver oil every day can be beneficial.

5. Turmeric- this herb for ages is known for its healing properties. The active ingredient Curcumin protects joint inflammation and thereby helps to alleviate arthritis pain.

Juices for arthritis -

There are several juices that arthritis patients should take especially those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis as they help to clear up the pain. The list of juice includes black cherry, broccoli, spinach, carrots, ginger and apples. All these juices are best natural remedies for arthritis in hands as they are rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients that helps to alleviate the pain.

One can also improve rheumatoid arthritis pain by drinking 2-3 glasses of pineapple juice daily. This fruit contains a high percentage of Bromelain enzyme which has rich anti-inflammatory properties.

Caution: there are certain juices which are likely to result in adverse reactions in those having osteoarthritis. Always avoid intake of citrus fruits and vegetables such as eggplant, peppers, tomatoes or potatoes for best results.

One can enjoy the healthy life with natural herbs, the invaluable nature's gift to mankind.

Help With Arthritis Pain - Basal Joint Arthritis

Basal joint arthritis is arthritis of the thumb. The basal joint is also known as thumb CMC (carpometacarpal) joint. This joint receives an enormous amount of stress especially with pinching motions. The amount of pressure taken in this joint when grasping, using a pinch between the thumb and index finger, is approximately 6 to 9 pounds of pressure for every 1 pound of pinch. It's no wonder that this joint wears out and has so many arthritic problems.

Arthritis in the basal joints can be one of many types of arthritis. The most common types of arthritis affecting this joint are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and traumatic arthritis. Traumatic arthritis generally happens due to injury of the joint. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease.


Your Physician can do an array of tests to diagnose basal joints arthritis. These tests may include ex rays, bone scans, MRI, and a physical examination including manipulation of the joint.


Symptoms of basal joints arthritis can include:

o Pain at base the of the thumb with use

o Aching joints at the base of the thumb that continues to be bothersome even after discontinuing use

o Deformity in the joint at the base of the thumb

o Tenderness of the base of the thumb

o Swelling in the joint at the base of the thumb

o Decreased strength in the basal joint

o Decreased range of motion

o Difficulty in doing tasks such as turning keys, doorknobs, jar lids, buttoning buttons and zipping zippers

o Severe pain when gripping

o Severe pain when pinching the thumb and fingers together

o Decreased ability to grip

o An unstable feeling in the basal joint

o An out of joint appearance at the base of the thumb

o An enlarged, bony appearing joint at the base of the thumb

o Limited joint mobility


Exact cause of basal joints arthritis is unknown. Repetitive use and factors including injury, stress, muscle weakness, the aging process, heredity, and obesity may be contributing factors. Cartilage normally cushions the basal joint. When basal joint arthritis is involved cartilage cushioning degenerates and the bones rub together. This is what causes damage due to joint friction. Bone spurs of pure as the body attempts to repair the damage.

Increased risk factors include:

o Age (these joints arthritis generally happens after the age of 40).

o Gender (basal joints arthritis is more frequent in females).

o Past injuries to the basal joint including fractures, sprains, and jamming the thumb.

o Disease such as rheumatoid arthritis.

o Excessive use of the basal joints.

o The family history of basal joint arthritis.


Treatment for basal joint arthritis can include medication for pain and swelling, corticosteroid injections, splints, and in some cases surgery. The main focus of treatment is pain reduction.

Arthroscopic surgery may be required to reduce pain. Surgery can only be performed during early and middle stages of basal joints arthritis. Advanced stages of basal joints arthritis cannot be repaired with arthroscopic surgery. This is why it is important to discuss treatment options with your doctor during early stages of the condition. Other surgical treatments available are; joint fusion, Osteotomy (bone cutting), Trapeziectomy (removal of the trapezium bone) and joint replacement.

Pain reduction:

Limiting the use of the joint is one of the best ways to decrease pain. One way this can be done is by wearing splints that immobilize the basal joint and facilitate proper positioning.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including OTC medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, can be used to treat joint pain and swelling. Tylenol can also be used for pain relief. When these OTC medications are non-effective your Physician can prescribe stronger NSAIDs.

Often a combination of splinting and NSAIDs will greatly decrease pain.

Corticosteroid injections can be used for pain relief. Corticosteroids work by reducing inflammation in the joint. Care must be taken when using corticosteroids.

Range of motion exercises can also improve joint pain and mobility. These are done by manipulating the joint through all natural movements. This should be done carefully multiple times daily.

Applying heat or cold can also assist with pain. Many people find ice packs work great in alleviating pain and swelling in the basal joint. Other people have difficulty using ice as it increases other types of arthritic pain. Application of heat works better in these cases. Using a heat pack or a heating pad for 10 to 15 minutes of the time several times throughout the day can decrease stiffness and pain in the joint.

Decreasing use by modifying household chores and finding ways to use other joints when possible to allow this joint time to heal is also an effective way of decreasing pain. Any way that you can decrease use of the basal joint and still keep your independence will be helpful. Simple adjustments in the house such as finding larger handled flatware, adding a key chain or something large to grasp to zipper pulls so that you can manipulate your own zippers, specialized door handles, specialized faucets, and many other adjustments that can make throughout your home can decrease the aggravation you put on the basal joint.

Viscosupplements for My Knee Arthritis - What are They?

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the joint gradually wears away. During the course of cartilage degeneration, there is inflammation and resultant stiffness and pain. Osteoarthritis may be caused by or aggravated by excess stress on the joint from deformity, repeated trauma, or excess weight. It most often affects middle-aged and older people.

A younger person who develops osteoarthritis may have an inherited form of the disease or may have experienced problems as a result of injury.

In rheumatoid arthritis, the joint becomes inflamed and cartilage may be destroyed as well. Arthritis not only affects joints, it can also affect supporting structures such as:

o muscles

o tendons

o ligaments

Rheumatoid arthritis often affects people at an earlier age than osteoarthritis.
Regardless of the type of arthritis causing knee symptoms, the end result is often the same. A person who has arthritis in the knee may experience pain, swelling, and a decrease in knee motion. A common symptom is morning stiffness that gets better as the person moves around. Sometimes the joint locks or clicks when the knee is bent and straightened, but these signs may occur in other knee disorders as well. The doctor may confirm the diagnosis by performing a physical examination and examining magnetic resonance (MR) scans, which reveal the inner architecture of the knee.

Most often arthritis in the knee is treated initially with pain-reducing medicines, such as analgesics and anti-inflammatory medicines.

Exercise is essential to restore joint movement and strengthen the knee. Losing excess weight can also help people with osteoarthritis.

Glucocorticoid injections are helpful when there is evidence of inflammation.

The normal knee joint produces synovial fluid, a thick slippery substance that nourishes cartilage and allows smooth gliding of the cartilage surfaces. With arthritis, the amount of synovial fluid made by the joint is reduced.

In instances when other therapies do not provide the desired relief, viscosupplements are sometimes used. These are gel-like substances (hyaluronates) that mimic the properties of naturally occurring joint fluid.

These hyaluronates actually supplement the viscous properties of synovial fluid. Injection of hyaluronates is done using either fluoroscopic or ultrasound needle guidance.

Currently, hyaluronate injections are approved for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee in those who have failed to respond to more conservative therapy. The number of injections performed varies with the type of viscosupplement used. Usually 5 injections are required for the best response.

Currently, there are five FDA approved hyaluronates:

o Hyalgan

o Synvisc

o Euflexa

o Supartz

o Orthovisc

Sometimes, a physician will perform an arthroscopy before providing viscosupplement. Also, a special type of brace to help unload the narrowed part of the knee may be used to help the viscosupplement work better.

Use for other joints is being studied. Studies have shown effectiveness for the shoulder, hip, and ankle. We published a study a few years ago showing these viscosupplements are effective for osteoarthritis affecting the base of the thumb.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Revolutionary Treatment Gives Hope For the Chronically Ill

Low dose naltrexone has recently garnered attention as a possible treatment for autoimmune diseases, neurological conditions, cancer and some other illnesses. Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist, which means that it blocks opioid receptors in the brain and thus eliminates the feeling of pleasure caused by e.g. drinking alcohol, because our endogenous opioids (endorphins) cannot bind to the receptors. But when used in very small doses (less than 1/10 of the normal dose) naltrexone can be used to stimulate the release of endorphins.


Low dose naltrexone was pioneered by the neurologist Bernard Bihari in the early 1980s, when he was studying medications used for drug and alcohol withdrawal. He noticed that very small doses of naltrexone (initially 3 mg) taken at bedtime only blocked the opioid receptors transiently, which stimulated the body to produce more of its endogenous opioids and produced no significant side effects.

Bihari tried LDN as a treatment for HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis, two conditions that have been shown to be associated with low levels of beta endorphin, one of the most important endogenous opioids. In some of his AIDS patients the blood levels of beta endorphin as much as tripled when using low dose naltrexone.

Patients also experienced marked clinical improvement. The MS symptoms (especially fatigue) were relieved and the illness progression seemed to halt. Most patients never experienced a single MS attack after the initiation of low dose naltrexone. Patients infected with HIV had their viral counts drop radically and their CD4 counts subsequently went up. As a result the rates opportunistic infections and AIDS related malignancies decreased.

Later development

Encouraged by his success Bihari and other doctors began trying LDN for other conditions, such as other autoimmune illnesses and cancer, often with great results. The support from the patient community has been overwhelming. Patients with MS have collected money for clinical trials and there have even been three conferences on LDN and the fourth one is scheduled for October 2008.

A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that 89% of patients with Crohn's disease were improved on LDN and 67% achieved a full remission. There are clinical trials currently running for multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, autism, fibromyalgia, pancreatic cancer and squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (head and neck cancer). A large HIV/AIDS study is also running in Mali, West Africa.

Illnesses that can be treated with LDN

LDN has been successfully used to treat the following conditions:

Autoimmune diseases

  • multiple sclerosis

  • systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE/LED)

  • rheumatoid arthritis

  • ankylosing spondylitis

  • pemphigoid

  • sarcoidosis

  • scleroderma

  • Crohn's disease

  • ulcerative colitis

  • celiac disease

  • psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis

  • Wegener's granulomatosis

  • transverse myelitis


  • bladder cancer

  • breast cancer

  • carcinoid tumor

  • colorectal cancer

  • glioblastoma

  • liver cancer

  • non-small cell lung cancer (NSLC)

  • chronic lymphocytic leukemia

  • lymphoma (both Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's)

  • melanoma

  • multiple myeloma

  • neuroblastoma

  • ovarian cancer

  • pancreatic cancer

  • prostate cancer

  • renal cell carcinoma

  • throat cancer

  • uterine cancer

Other illnesses


  • hepatitis C

  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)/primary lateral sclerosis (PLS)

  • autism

  • Alzheimer's disease

  • Parkinson's disease

  • Behcet's disease

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, emphysema)

  • endometriosis

  • fibromyalgia

  • chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME)

  • irritated bowel syndrome (IBS)

LDN may possibly also work for e.g. myasthenia gravis, antiphospholipid syndrome/Hughes syndrome, narcolepsy (a possibly autoimmune condition), interstitial cystitis, chronic Lyme disease/post Lyme syndrome, acne, rosacea, chronic urticaria, dementia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), cluster headaches, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It has been reported to be helpful in insomnia and migraine prevention.

Mode of action

Endorphins are often associated with the pleasant feeling we get from e.g. exercise, but they are more than just that. Beta endorphin and met enkephalin, another opioid peptide produced by the body have profound effects on the immune system. Numerous animal studies have demonstrated that met enkephalin acts as an anti-cancer agent. Beta endorphin levels have shown to be low in HIV/AIDS, many autoimmune conditions and e.g. migraine.

Autoimmune illnesses have been traditionally seen as manifestations of an overactive immune system and are usually treated with immunosuppressants, but more and more data is emerging that suggests that autoimmune conditions may in fact be forms of immunedeficiency, explaining why LDN, an immunostimulant, works for them.

Clinical effects

In most autoimmune diseases the disease progression halts. Symptoms, such as fatigue, pain, muscle weakness and cognitive problems are often alleviated, as well. In degenerative conditions like ALS and Alzheimer's the illness progression is slowed down. The lipodystrophy caused by antiretroviral (HIV) drugs usually improves significantly.

Bihari reports that a halt in cancer growth occurs in about 50% of the cancer patients he treats. Some of these patients show objective signs of tumor shrinkage. Some patients who have been deemed terminal with little time left are still alive and doing well years later, such as one with pancreatic cancer (one of the deadliest cancers) whose case was published in Integrative Cancer Therapies.

According to Bihari LDN works best for the following cancers: multiple myeloma, Hodgkin's disease, breast cancer, cancers of the gastrointestinal tract (including the pancreas) and non-small cell lung cancer. That isn't to say that cancer patients should ditch their existing treatments, but LDN can be combined with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Some patients only undergo surgery or are considered not to benefit from conventional treatment, so they would be good candidates for LDN.

How it is used

LDN is taken every night between 9 PM and 3 AM, as the body produces most of its endorphins during the early morning hours. There are usually no side effects. Some people experience problems with sleeping during the first week. Nausea, feeling "high", gas and bloating and hunger pangs may occur in the beginning and usually go away in a few days. In patients with MS spasticity may transiently worsen. It may take anywhere between a day and a few months to notice improvement.

LDN can safely be taken with all other medications, foods or supplements, but because it is an opiate antagonist it cannot be combined with any narcotic painkillers (opiates), including tramadol, and taking it with immunosuppressive drugs (like corticosteroids) may cause the drugs to "cancel out" each other's effects, as LDN is an immunostimulant. The only contraindication is a past organ transplant, because taking an immunostimulant might lead to graft rejection.

Any doctor can prescribe LDN as an "ex tempore" prescription, to be filled by a compounding pharmacy. Some people use foreign pharmacies, as it is legal in most countries to order medications from abroad with a valid prescription. LDN may be formulated as capsules or liquid, but the liquid has to be refrigerated and is less convenient when traveling. It is recommended that calcium carbonate is not used as a filler for tablets.

The recommended dose is 4.5 mg, but some people, especially those who are very slim and those with severe MS, only take 3 mg. Often prescriptions are written for 1.5 mg capsules so that the patient can try taking either two or three at once. LDN is also relatively inexpensive, usually costing between $15 and $40 a month.

Reactive Arthritis: What Every Arthritis Sufferer Needs to Know

The disease and its causes: Sometimes arthritis develops not as a chronic, degenerative disease which you may have to manage for the rest of your life, but rather as a reaction to an infection (viral or bacterial, including STDs) which has taken place anywhere in your body. Some think that is can also be a reaction to a psychological or emotional trigger and, occasionally, to some types of food poisoning; either way, this type of arthritis can be treated and, if so, its attacks do not last for long periods of time (it usually lasts anytime between 3 and 12 months). It can occur at any age at in both genders, though there seem to be more incidents in the younger population.

How it shows: joint swelling and joint pain (fingers and toes in particular but it can affect any joints); inflamed tendons, occasional redness and inflammation of your eyes with occasional blurred vision (always hurry to your doctor if your have these eye symptoms no matter what the diagnosis can be). Other symptoms may include patches of scaly skin (hands, feet or elsewhere), mouth ulcers, flu-like symptoms and, occasionally, some genitourinary symptoms (discharge or rashes). You may experience sudden acute symptoms but generally they tend to develop more slowly, over a few days or even weeks; they can be mild or severe.

Diagnosis: the bad news is that reactive arthritis is at present still relatively difficult to diagnose since so far there is no test (yet) which can confirm the condition with certainty. An experienced practitioner will ask you a variety of questions which may help him/her deduce that you may indeed be suffering from reactive arthritis.

How it is treated: Treating the cause, the trigger of reactive arthritis will be the primary and initial stage of treatment. So, if your cause was an infection and this infection is still active, treating the infection will be the initial treatment; so, for example, if the triggering infection is bacterial, then antibiotics may be prescribed if necessary. The second stage of the treatment is similar to that of other forms of arthritis and, in traditional medicine, they tend to be non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or even steroids (both targeting the inflammation in the affected areas, but steroids are to be avoided long-term due to their side-effects); you may also be prescribed disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in case your reactive arthritis lasts longer than a few months but, unfortunately, many of work by lowering the activity of your immune system in general and (in my opinion) they are to be used as a last-resort (as with steroids); bluntly put, I have never touched them despite my arthritic condition. On the other hand, those preferring the traditional medicine route would argue that DMARDs drugs may be able to minimize the damage done to your body in the short and long run and for this reasons they are at times prescribed as early as possible in the course of the disease.

What you can do yourself right now:

Acute attack/s: if you suffer from a particularly painful arthritic attack, your joints (or indeed the whole of your body) may need some rest, so avoiding movement until the acute phase subsides may be indicated. During an acute attack you may need ice packs or heat pads (or you can use alternatively, whatever necessary to relieve joint swelling and pain). If you need to undertake activity, make sure you don't exert yourself at any time. If you need to take traditional drugs (as mentioned above), don't be afraid to discuss them at length with your doctor and make sure you are aware of any potential side effects; find out what other types of treatment, from alternative medicine or natural/herbal supplements, for example, you can take to help you during this acute attack (if you choose not to use traditional medicine - but always discuss this with your doctor). Do as much research as you can now and find out what could be the best route for you to treat your arthritis. This may indeed include natural supplements and/or homeopathy.

Non-acute phase: as soon as you can, resume exercise, best if it's low-impact exercise. Exercise is essential to strengthen muscles around the affected areas and to keep the joints moving. Never overdo it and start with as little as a few minutes a day, increasing the time as the days go by; when in doubt, ask a qualified person.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms and Risk Factors

Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that many people in Arizona must live with every day. The debilitating part of rheumatoid arthritis is that it affects so many active adults here in Anthem and Surprise, affecting everything from their golf game to their home lives. Understanding what rheumatoid arthritis is and what the risk factors for this chronic condition are an important step to understanding the diagnosis and pain management treatment.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), by definition, is a "chronic inflammatory disorder that most typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet." According to the Mayo Clinic, rheumatoid arthritis is unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis because if affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.

We have seen many cases in Arizona where arthritis has affected an individual so strongly, that certain appendages will begin to take on a deformed appearance, most notably the fingers and toes.

Like many other forms of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your body literally attacks itself. It's a condition that causes your own immune system to mistakenly attack your body's tissues. Ultimately, the attacking of tissues can lead to high fevers and extreme fatigue because your body is undergoing a small civil war. It can be a very exhausting condition because your body is never fully at rest.

Some of the symptoms of RA can be initial joint pain, joint swelling, and joints that are tender to the touch. Your hands and feet might become red and puffy, and you might notice some bumps beneath the skin on your arms. These bumps are known to pain doctors as rheumatoid nodules. You might also see a fever, feel fatigued, have morning stiffness that lasts through the morning into the afternoons, and might see some weight loss to the amount of energy your body is producing during that 'civil war.'

So, how do you know if you're at risk for rheumatoid arthritis? There are some risk factors that you should discuss with your pain doctor. Those risk factors include your sex; women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis then are men. Your age is also a factor, as adults between the ages of 40 to 60 seem to develop the symptoms more frequently than other age groups. If a member of your family has battle rheumatoid arthritis, chances are you will be facing it as well.

Finally, smoking has been found to link directly with RA risk. However ironically, moderate drinking has been found to lessen your risk. This could be due to the fact that alcohol has been shown to suppress the activities of the immune system, thus limiting the immune system's ability to attack itself.