Over used joints are often the first parts of the body affected by inflammation.

If you have not been attending the health lecture series at ASU Heber Springs on Tuesday nights, you have missed some valuable insight as to how you may have a healthier, pain free life.  Last week the topic was Joint Pain and Arthritis and I learned that there are basically two kinds of pain—inflammatory and wear and tear; you can help prevent or heal both.

Wear and tear pain is caused primarily by poor biomechanics, posture, shoes, orthotics, stretching and exercising wrong, and even flat feet can cause the knees to wear out.    We can take actions and create changes to avoid this type of pain and even correct it once it has occurred.  Little changes can make big differences.

Chronic inflammation is fueled by conditions and behaviors.  Some of which are poor sleep patterns which can cause hormonal imbalances, high homocysteine levels (also a marker for heart disease), pH balance of the blood, poor diet and food allergies, harmful bacteria in the intestinal tract created by poor diet, over use of antibiotics, and stress.  

Over used joints are often the first parts of the body affected by inflammation.  An area that stays inflamed becomes even more painful when the body “reinforces” it by adding calcium.  We call these bone spurs or osteoarthritis. 

I learned when you are told, “You need to have a knee replacement” it may not necessarily be so.  Dr. Matthews told of a woman he met on a trip while doing his hour of swimming at a health club.  The woman, in her seventies, exercised at the corner of the pool the whole time he was there.  They engaged in interesting conversation and she said she had been told over a year ago that she had to have a knee replacement.  Instead of following the advice, she decided to take a year to see what she could do for herself.  She cleaned up her diet, eliminating inflammatory producing foods, added a glucosamine-chondroitin sulfate supplement, and started exercising an hour each day in the pool.  Before the year was up, she was pain-free and did not need the knee replacement. 

A lot of people suffer from joint pain and I have had my share of knee issues.  My knees do not line up properly (I am knock-kneed!) and that causes a special strain on them.  A few months ago I had a flare-up with the left knee.  Since I believe that “motion is lotion” and I do not believe in “no pain, no gain”, when I have pain, I listen.  The body is telling me to pay attention; and I had better change something or later I will pay dearly.  Water exercises are great for joints because they produce motion without strain.  However, I am not a water person; I can’t swim and am scared of water!  Then I heard about the bicycle at the Community Center designed to help knees.  It sits you way back from the pedals so there is motion with no pressure on the knees. I started riding it four miles per day, on the first or second setting so that the knees would get motion with no pressure.  It was amazing at how quickly the soreness went away.  I experience no pain when exercising on that bike.  We are made to move and cartilage can be produced when we move correctly.

Dr. Matthews helped us put together a plan to either prevent or cure joint pain.  Some of the things he listed are:  Nutrition; Choose anti-inflammatory foods and get tested for food allergies with an IgG food antibodies test.  Take joint building supplements like glucosamine chondroitin sulfates.  Eat many small meals with the smallest meal before bedtime.  Eat less overall.  Take time to relax every day and don’t rush around every moment.  Selective apathy has its benefits.  Sleep patterns are important.  Sleep 7.5 or 9 hours daily and best in 90 minute intervals without interruption.  Take a good probiotic to make sure you have healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract—a key to good health.  Exercise with range of motion and strength, without shock loading and maybe even without weight- bearing.   He recommends swimming. A friend says be sure and mention drinking plenty of good water—fluid is required for the cushioning in joints. 

For almost 50 years, I have attended health talks and seminars about the fascinating subject of health and I always learn something new.  I know deep breathing is extremely important but what I didn't know is that it helps prevent osteoporosis and other calcium deficiency disorders by keeping the body alkaline.   Three more cheers for yoga!  If you are not deep breathing, you are not doing yoga.   Dr. Matthews concluded with: Choose your future.  Make choices that create the future you desire.    Hope to see you next week at 6:00 at ASU Heber Springs.