By Clive Lindley-Jones | November 16, 2011 11:49 am
This month I want to write a few words about Arthritis. There are around 9 million people in the UK suffering from some form of the 200 different kinds of Arthritis. Some of these are quite rare, while some, like Rheumatoid Arthritis, R.A. and Gout are, sadly all too common. R.A. is what is know as an auto-immune disease, where the body starts to develop an attack on our own joints, leading to degeneration of the joints, systemically. Whereas Gout is a disorder where the body cannot eliminate the natural substance, uric acid, effectively and any excess forms needle-like crystals in the joints, leading to swelling and pain often in the big toes or knees and wrists.
However by far the most common form of Arthritis,which most people tend to think of when this term arthritis is used is Osteoarthritis with 8.5 million sufferers in the UK alone.
Unlike some of the systemic conditions mentioned above, osteoarthritis tends to appear at certain joints rather than attacking multiple joints as with R.A.
There is still so much we do not know yet about all these conditions. Every now and then a new drug hailed to solve all our painful creakiness, is discovered, like Prexige (lumiracoxib). This burns brightly for a couple of years and then, as in 2007 with Prexige, is found to lead to serious liver damage or some other unacceptable side effect and is removed from the market.BBC NEWS | Health | Arthritis drug licence suspended. Or over the counter, nutritional products like chondroitin sulphate deliver less than they, at first, promised.
Recently a new hope is being held out for stem cells as the bodies own repair kit that might one day come to the rescue. But until such, far off days, we are still left with the problem.
Joints that come together are covered with a smooth spongy surface and this cartilage cushions the bones, with a thin film and a slippery fluid, synovium, and synovial fluid acting to reduce friction in the joint space. Strong bands of tissue, ligaments, support the joint and finally muscles and their tendons provide a dynamic and vital support to the joint. If this whole group of structures fails, gradually the bones start to grind together and wears away the cartilage at the ends of the bones, (or the discs that cushion and separate the vertebral segments of the spine) and with bone on bone contact new piece of bone can develop in response, narrowing and sticking out of the joint space, in the case of the spine, sometimes potentially narrowing, for example, the spaces through which your nerve roots have to leave the spine on their way to the rest of your body.
What can be done?
Well, as so often some of the major things that we can do, come down to things that we don’t always want to do. First as many joints respond to trauma after some years with secondary osteoarthritis, we can try and avoid too many injuries in early life…tell that to your skate-boarding teenager or footballing husband!
Ok, so not a great start, what about staying at the correct weight for your build? If only, you say! Sadly the, as yet, less talked about costs of the obesity epidemic, will be a depressing rise in arthritic joint problems in the second half of life, as those joints start to complain of all the intolerable extra weight they are being asked to carry around day in day out. Think here especially of hips, knees and feet that carry all that weight for us. So once again what we eat has an effect, both on our weight and on the levels of chronic inflammation we subject our bodies to, via, calming or inflammatory, food as a regular part of our diet.
The next suggestion will be no less popular with some, and might seem counter intuitive to others, and that is exercise. Surely if you joints ache you should get off those tired feet and rest up? Well certainly marathon running may not be your best sport, but actually movement, to take your joints through their full range of movement, (yoga anyone), and anything that strengthens those all important supporting muscles that both move our joints and act to protect those other vulnerable structures within, can be a major help in reducing the damage and aggravation that OA brings. Don’t hammer the joints but just get them moving more often and get those muscles stronger so that they carry more of the support role that they are meant to.
If you are in a job that involves a lot of lifting or carrying or if you have to remain too stationary for long periods, an extra look at your posture and lifting techniques could make a big difference.
There is some evidence that some nutritional and botanical medicine can help a bit, and those old standbys of minerals and vitamins like zinc and B3, as well as SAMe, and possibly Chondroitin and Glucosamine Sulphate have some evidence of help. Others are looking towards botanical medicine like Boswellia, Ashwaganda, Turmeric, Cat’s Claw , Cayenne and Ginger all have something to offer. However perhaps we should consider them most useful, less as a magic bullet and more as part of a healthy diet that naturally reduces inflammatory cascades in the body. There is a lot of good evidence, for example, around the use of Turmeric. Dr. Andrew Weil: Turmeric Health Benefits: Have a Happy New Year With Turmeric.in all sorts of health giving ways, some I suspect you did not know about.
Finally, Physical medicine like osteopathy can play a useful role. Too often we wander around with our joints poorly functioning carrying unnecessary mechanical loads when a simple straightening out and loosening of some of those ‘stuck’ joints by an expert can allow us to function much more truly. Like a car that has the tires inflated to the right pressure and that does not have any distortions in the underlying frame work of the car, and certainly not run with the hand break on, so too we are a far more effective machine when all our joints and those 965 muscles are all pulling in the right direction! A good Osteopath will be able to assess your mechanical health even if you, at present, have no obvious painful bits. why not ask for an M.O.T.?
Michael Pollan answers questions on food.
I have quoted Michael’s largely sane writing on food in the New York Times before in my HealthE-Coaching blogs, and here is an other chance for you to see what he sensibly writes about Food in America, when answering his readers Questions.Michael Pollan Answers Readers’ Questions | Michael Pollan.
Film of the month
This month it’s a film, rather than a book again. I was excited to hear that Channel 4 were running a series called Food Hospital on the ways in which, quite often, food is better medicine than drugs.Food Hospital – Channel 4.
And I still applaud them for doing so, it is just that if you know something about these things it is a bit nauseating to see it all hyped up in such a glossy, slightly condescending, glamourised, TV manner. But, while I won’t be riveted, it is at least good that they are suggesting the link between food and health and showing the general public the ways in which common diseases can be helped, or even healed, by changes in our diet and, at times, some judicious supplementation, something you will know I bang on about ad nauseam!
In February 2010 I reviewed the excellentFood Inc. review | Health & Wellness from Helix House.this month my film of the month is also from America, Food Matters.Food Matters [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]: Amazon.co.uk: Ian Brighthope, Jerome Burne, Phillip Day, Matthew Foster, Charlotte Gerson, Dan Rogers, Andrew W. Saul, David Wolfe, Victor Zeines, Carlo Ledesma, James Colquhoun, Enzo Tedeschi, Laurentine Ten Bosch: Film & TV.
This film is all about preventing illness, reversing disease and maintaining optimal health…naturally. It is the film that I wished Channel 4 had aired rather than the the Food Hospital. But enough of that carp, at least they tackled the subject.
Food matters approaches it in a more mature and serious manner, less afraid to frighten the horses or upset the sponsors and is the better, and quite different, film for it. There was a brief time when you could down load it for free from the net, but it can still be brought, for the price of a couple of cheap cinema tickets and would be well worth the price.
We have a totally unsustainable food growing, delivery and consuming culture. Too much is heavily distorted and twisted for economic gain throughout the whole journey from the field to our plate. Giant conglomerates make such huge profits from their efforts to flog us mostly, low nutritious, adulterated, questionable and addictive junk, that they can even afford to sponsor things like the Olympic games, in an effort to fool us into a state of denial, of what more and more people are waking up to. That is, that from farmers to shop owners, consumers to hospitals food needs to be taken back by us and used to keep us healthy and well, sometimes heal us when we are ill and yes enjoyed too. Rather than to feed just the shareholders, while the consumers make their way to premature grave with their teeth. (Ooh eh, doesn’t he go on!)
This film, about perhaps the most fundamental of material needs we have, will raise your consciousness and be one more step towards your own freedom and choice, changing the world, one meal at a time. Watch it.