You too? I’m finding arthritis to be very common among my peers.
My father was middle aged when I was born and old when I was in my 20s and 30s. He suffered from very painful arthritis in several parts of his body. I remember thinking, I’m going to take care of myself and that won’t be me. Wrong. . . that is me.
I started running when I was 17 years old, having been told it was a great way to lose baby fat; I had a lot of baby fat. One of my two female roommates struggled with her weight as well and so, we ran together. A combination of running and eating better helped me become a trimmer, happier young man. Running became an addiction. In truth, I ran to survive. Running was one of the only activities that would calm my brain. It provided results and allowed me to eat pretty much anything I loved. I ran almost everyday for thirty years. I ran marathons. I ran when I traveled. A few years ago I had so much pain from inflammation, I had to stop running.
Being a large man, 6 ft., 200 lbs., didn’t pair well with running. That’s a whole lot of weight hitting that hard New York City pavement. Running eventually led to inflammation of my joints, which eventually led to chronic arthritis.
I recall doing laps in my Brooklyn pool (my building had an indoor pool) and feeling cramping in feet, thinking what the heck is this? It was the early stages of arthritis; more than likely from running. That cramping and discomfort has never gone away and now, I live with it in my feet, knees, lower back, shoulders, and just recently my hands. It’s chronic and annoying as hell. I am a fairly physical person; always on the move, always challenging my physical limitations. It’s getting harder and harder to keep that up.
A few of these remedies are healthier than others. I will list them in order of what I believe to be the healthiest to the potentially dangerous:
- Stretching — I’m not sure if stretching actually helps arthritis, but I do know it feels good. Inflammation can make you stiff and stiffness is uncomfortable and painful. Loosening up your joints can give you sweet relief. I stretch at the gym for about 10 minutes before I workout in the morning. I know that I should probably spend more time on my back and legs, but I’m always anxious to start my workout and get it over with.
- Devil’s Claw — Native to southern Africa, devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) gets its name from the tiny hooks that cover its fruit. Historically, devil’s claw has been used to treat pain, liver and kidney problems, fever, and malaria. It has also been used in ointments to heal sores, boils, and other skin problems (Mt. Sinai). I’ve been taking Devil’s Claw in pill form for three months. It took four-to-six weeks to feel the effects. I’m not 100% sold on Devil’s Claw; however, I did notice that when I went from 500 to 1500 mg. three times a day, it did make a difference. You never really know if it’s the placebo effect or it’s truly working. I’m going to keep taking it; it’s inexpensive, has no side effects, and it is recommended by medical doctors throughout Europe.
- Cayenne — Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, and it often causes redness, swelling, pain, or heat. Cayenne pepper and other hot spices are widely considered powerful anti-inflammatory spices that can help reduce chronic inflammation and pain (HealthifyMe). I take a 1/4 teaspoon in warm water every morning. It’s not easy to swallow, but it’s another thing I believe can only help. And . . . it’s really cheap.
- CBD — Research suggests that CBD can ease inflammation, among other potential benefits. Research suggests that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may be beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis, as it affects certain cell viability. It may also have a synergetic effect on rheumatoid arthritis medication (Google). I don’t know enough about CBD to tout its benefits. I use it as a topical remedy in cream form. I purchased CBD oil (without THC) and put a few drops in body cream. I rub it into my shoulders and back and hope for the best. I wish I could tell you it works; I’m not sure.
- Ibuprofen — a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat mild to moderate pain, and helps to relieve symptoms of arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or juvenile arthritis), such as inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and joint pain (Mayo Clinic). The current recommendations for ibuprofen are to limit daily use to no more than 30 days. Dosing can range from 400 mg to 800 mg up to 4 times a day, with a daily maximum of 3200 mg per day. Above this limit, the negative effects of COX inhibition begin to outweigh the desired benefits of decreased discomfort and pain (Mdmercy.com). This last bit is what concerns me. I dated a medical doctor for several years. He repeatedly warned me about the long term side-effects of ibuprofen. I only take ibuprofen if my pain or discomfort is intolerable; not very often.
I’m not going to lie, I fear that the inflammation in my joints willworsen over time. The only hope is there has been tremendous relief in my right knee pain. I suffered with intense discomfort for several years and when I moved to Portugal this pain went away. I’m not sure if less humidity contributed to its disappearance or if no longer running helped it go away; perhaps it’s a combination of the two. Whatever it is, I am grateful. It gives me hope that I might find relief in other parts of my body.
Arthritis in my hands is a big concern. It seems to be isolated to the joints between my thumb and the pointing finger. Stretching and rubbing the area does help.
I hope my own experience and research has been helpful for some of you who suffer as I do. Helping ourselves through life’s challenges, empowers us to work through any obstacle to our happiness and well-being. I’m challenging myself to stay positive.
“It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all.”— Anonymous
Provence (south of France) today. I’ll be visiting several wineries and returning to points-of-interest; it’s been awhile since I visited Provence. I will be seeing friends and eating well. My Airbnb has an amazing view of Marseille; a city I’ve never visited. I think this trip will do me a world of good.
I had a day this week that blew me away and I hope it happens again soon. I woke up on Monday morning feeling like Superman. I knew that I could and would accomplish anything and I did. I ran through my To Do list in record time and I did a lot that wasn’t on my list. My energy level was at an all-time high; I took full advantage of it and reaped the rewards.
I’ve done some redecorating in my apartment and I’m very pleased with the results. My nest has always been important to me, as I get older even more so. Minimal, colorful, and comfortable — that’s what I like. More and more, I trust my instincts and embrace the results.
“Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.” —John C. Maxwell
As always please forgive grammatical and/or typographical errors. Especially this time as I am writing on my tablet.