Managing Arthritis Pain with Diet and Home Ultrasound

Earth Day
Natural Treatments for Arthritis

Arthritis pain effects approximately 50% of adults aged 65 and older. In addition to causing chronic, life-altering pain, Arthritis reduces function in the joints it affects.

Check out this brilliant article by Shirley Smith.  Please feel free to ask Smith any questions in the comments section below!

‘Arthritis’ is a broad term used to refer to more than one hundred different rheumatic diseases and conditions. In every case, there is inflammation of a joint accompanied by pain, swelling, and stiffness. The possible causes of arthritic conditions can be many. That said, because arthritis is primarily an inflammatory disease, the treatments generally involved bringing down the inflammation. There are a few ways to do this.

The Power of Foods and healthy living

I underwent 34 rounds of chemo for leukemia. Cancer isn’t something you can solve with eating healthy foods. However, I ate incredibly healthy, and exercised almost every day. The doctors were very impressed at my ability to tolerate the chemo.

Before I was diagnosed, I put myself on a major health food kick (because I knew something was wrong). I feel like it almost worked. A diet of massive amounts of anti-inflammatories wasn’t quite enough to kill cancer on its own. But, combine that with chemo, and you have a powerful combination.


Anti-inflammatory foods are also able to bring down inflammation, and help manage arthritis pain. As an example, ginger has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen and COX-2 inhibitors such as celecoxib (Celebrex). Ginger also suppresses leukotrienes (inflammatory molecules) and switch off certain inflammatory genes, potentially making it more effective than conventional pain relievers. Ginger also reduces nausea and vomiting and is a proven treatment for motion sickness and chemotherapy-induced nausea.

Studies: In a 2012 in vitro study, a specialized ginger extract called Eurovita Extract 77 reduced inflammatory reactions in RA synovial cells as effectively as steroids. More info here: http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/guide/ginger.php

One of the things I learned from this process is that sometimes, you do need to call in the heavy hitters. If you have cancer, you probably should take chemo. The same login holds true for arthritis. If you have arthritis, you probably should at least try the drugs the doctors recommend. That said, I saw first-hand just how powerful food can be. While I was awaiting treatment, my blood numbers were stable. This was pretty incredible. When people have acute lymphoblastic leukemia, they generally go downhill very, very quickly. I wasn’t able to cure my cancer with ginger, and other health foods. However, I was almost able to keep it at bay. To me, this was still rather incredible. The foods I was eating where having a very significant effect on killing my leukemia.

When we added in the chemo, my cancer didn’t stand a chance. I was in remission within days. I still had to deal with 2 years of chemo, but that was just to make absolutely sure we got every last bad cell. When it comes to treating arthritis, the same applies. It’s probably a good idea to take the drugs that your doctors suggest, but don’t underestimate the power of food’s ability to help. It’s powerful medicine.




Home Ultrasound
Finally, home ultrasound can also help manage arthritis pain. Ultrasound Therapy stimulates increased blood flow to affected joints. Due to their design, joints have limited blood flow – as a result, they recover from arthritis flare-ups very slowly. Unfortunately, slow recovery is not the only problem associated with limited blood flow.

Because of comparatively poor circulation waste matter can build up in joints causing extreme inflammation (which is the reason for pain) to arthritis sufferers. Fortunately, both of these problems are helped by the use of ultrasound therapy to increase circulation to the affected areas simultaneously working to heal the joint and flushing toxins and waste matter from the joints. More information about how home ultrasound machines can help manage arthritis can be found here

From my own personal history, I’ve found that some diseases (such as cancer and arthritis) can’t be cured just by eating vegetables, or yoga, meditating, or a juice cleanse.  However, just because you can’t cure a cancer outright with broccoli, that doesn’t mean you should give up on broccoli. That holds true with arthritis as well. Taken together, prescription drugs, an anti-inflammatory diet, and a home ultrasound machine comprise an effective method to help manage arthritis pain.

Natural cures are very popular, and very important. Personally, I don’t think I would have survived my chemo treatments without the healing power of food. However, I think it’s important to remember that the best strategy is to use a combination of natural cures, and the best medications medical science has to offer. For me, that was a winning combination.

Acupuncture – Does it work? Read some of the evidence here

Acupuncture
Acupuncture

Have you ever used Acupuncture?

Did it work?  Tell us your view in the comments section below?

Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine in which fine needles are inserted at certain sites in the body for therapeutic or preventative purposes.

It is often seen as a form of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM), although it is used in many NHS general practices, as well as the majority of pain clinics and hospices in the UK.

Theory

Western medical acupuncture is the use of acupuncture after a proper medical diagnosis. It is based on scientific evidence that shows the treatment can stimulate nerves under the skin and in muscle tissue.


This results in the body producing pain-relieving substances, such as endorphins. It is likely these substances are responsible for any beneficial effects seen with this form of acupuncture.

Traditional acupuncture is based on the belief that an energy, or “life force”, flows through the body in channels called meridians. This life force is known as Qi (pronounced “chee”).

Practitioners who adhere to traditional beliefs about acupuncture believe that when Qi does not flow freely through the body, this can cause illness. They also believe acupuncture can restore the flow of Qi, and so restore health.

Read more about what happens during acupuncture.

What is it used for?

Acupuncture practitioners – sometimes called acupuncturists – use acupuncture to treat a wide range of health conditions.

It is often used to treat pain conditions such as headache, lower back pain and osteoarthritis, but is also sometimes used in an attempt to help people with conditions ranging from infertility to anxiety and asthma.

Acupuncture is occasionally available on the NHS, although access is limited. Most acupuncture patients pay for private treatment.

Read more about the common uses of acupuncture.

Does it work?

Currently, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) only recommends considering acupuncture as a treatment option for chronic lower back pain, chronic tension-type headaches and migraines. NICE makes these recommendations on the basis of scientific evidence.

There is also some evidence that acupuncture works for a small number of other problems, including neck pain and post-chemotherapy nausea and vomiting.

Acupuncture is sometimes used for a variety of other conditions as well, but the evidence is not conclusive for many of these uses.

Read more about the evidence for and against acupuncture.

Having acupuncture

When it is carried out by a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is generally very safe. Some people experience side effects such as feeling drowsy or dizzy, but these are usually mild and short-lived.

If you choose to have acupuncture, make sure your acupuncture practitioner is either a regulated healthcare professional or a member of a recognised national acupuncture organisation.

Read more about acupuncture safety and regulation.

[Original article on NHS Choices website]

Evidence for and against acupuncuture

There is some scientific evidence acupuncture has a beneficial effect for a number of health conditions.

However, there is less clear scientific evidence about the benefits of acupuncture in the majority of conditions it is often used for.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) only recommends considering acupuncture as a treatment option for chronic lower back pain, chronic tension-type headaches and migraine.

Assessing the evidence

One of the best ways researchers can assess the evidence behind a particular treatment is by carrying out a systematic review. This is a “study of studies” that combines findings from separate but similar studies to come up with an overall conclusion.

Systematic reviews are an important part of health research because they can identify findings that might otherwise be missed in individual studies. They can also help distinguish the effects of treatment from the effects of chance.

It is important to remember that when we use a treatment and feel better, this can be because of a phenomenon called the placebo effect and not because of the treatment itself. Systematic reviews can help reduce the potential influence of the placebo effect.

While systematic reviews cannot always determine conclusively whether a treatment does or does not work, they can be useful in assessing how a particular treatment (such as acupuncture) compares to another (such as “sham” acupuncture or medication).

However, even this can be challenging – both acupuncture and placebo treatments can stimulate the release of natural painkilling substances called endorphins, which can make it difficult to distinguish between them.

What evidence is there for acupuncture?

One of the largest and most respected organisations that carries out and publishes systematic reviews into the effectiveness of medical treatments is The Cochrane Collaboration.

A number of systematic reviews into the effectiveness of acupuncture have been published by The Cochrane Collaboration, and the basic results are summarised below.

Some positive evidence

Systematic reviews carried out by The Cochrane Collaboration have found there is some evidence acupuncture may have a beneficial effect on the following conditions:

However, because of disagreements over the way acupuncture trials should be carried out and over what their results mean, the existence of some positive evidence does not mean acupuncture definitely works for these conditions.

In many cases, the evidence appears contradictory. For example, some high-quality studies may suggest acupuncture is no better than “sham” acupuncture, whereas some lower-quality studies may suggest acupuncture is better than an established medical treatment.

The issue is sometimes also further complicated by the fact some “sham interventions” include active needling and are therefore not true placebos.

In addition, it can be difficult to make sure the patients involved in acupuncture studies are unaware of the specific treatment they are receiving (known as “blinding”).

This is because it is obvious whether you are receiving a conventional medical treatment such as medication or if you are receiving acupuncture, for example. This is a problem as it means the preconceptions of the person being treated may influence the result.

Some systematic reviews, however, have demonstrated the effects of acupuncture over sham treatment in studies where patients are unaware whether they are having real acupuncture or sham treatment.

For example, one large meta-analysis (a type of systematic review) not carried out by The Cochrane Collaboration included data from more than 17,000 patients. It compared acupuncture to sham acupuncture or no acupuncture without patients being aware of whether they had received real or sham treatment.

This review found acupuncture to be superior to both sham and no treatment for headaches, osteoarthritis, back pain and neck pain.

Little or no evidence

In many conditions where acupuncture is used, there is not enough good quality evidence to draw any clear conclusions over its relative effectiveness compared with other treatments.

For example, systematic reviews published by The Cochrane Collaboration have suggested more research is needed to assess whether acupuncture is effective for: asthmaglaucomaschizophreniadepressionshoulder, painelbow, painrheumatoid arthritisBell’s palsyrestless legs syndromeinsomnia vascular ,dementiastroke, stroke rehabilitation and swallowing problems caused by stroke

More research is needed to establish whether acupuncture is better or worse than best standard treatments for these conditions.

More information and research

If you want to find out more about studies into acupuncture, you can search for high-quality research using the NHS Evidence and Cochrane Library websites.

Back Pain – some great tips for preventing back pain

Back Pain – some great tips for preventing back pain.

As many of my readers know one of the major themes of this blog is the use of health infographics to promote medical education. We are also keen to share ways of managing pain with you our readers.

Now back pain is one of the most common medical afflictions. I’ve suffered from it on a number of occasions and it is part of conditions such as multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia!

So do check them out!


Back Pain 101
Source: Top Nursing Programs

Pain Management – some natural ways to manage your persistent pain

pain-management1

The old-fashioned treatment for painful conditions was bed rest for weeks or months on end. We now know this is the worst possible approach. Exercise and continuing to work are key to recovery.

Forget resting if you have a painful condition like back pain. Lying in bed for long periods may actually make the pain last longer, because inactivity makes you stiffen up, your muscles and bones get weaker, you don’t sleep well, you become lonely and depressed, and the pain feels worse.

You’ll also find that it becomes harder and harder to get going again.


A better approach to reducing pain is a combination of exercise, staying at work, physical therapy and painkillers.

Exercise to beat pain

Choose an exercise that won’t put too much strain on yourself. Good options include:

  • walking
  • swimming
  • exercise bike
  • dance/yoga/pilates
  • most daily activities and hobbies

Activity and stretching needs to become part of your lifestyle so you routinely do exercise little and often.

Try to be active every day, instead of only on the good days when you’re not in so much pain. This may reduce the number of bad days you have and help you feel more in control.

But try and avoid what is called the “boom and bust” cycle, where you overdo it on good days and then pay for this by having more and more bad days.

Try these flexibility exercises and sitting exercises that you can do at home.

Read the NHS Choices beginner’s guide to swimming and beginner’s guide to dancing.

Go to work despite the pain

It’s important to try to stay in work even though you’re in pain. Research shows that people become less active and more depressed when they don’t work.

Being at work will distract you from the pain and won’t make your pain worse.

If you have a heavy job, you may need some help from colleagues. Talk to your supervisor or boss about the parts of your job that may be difficult to begin with, but stress that you want to be at work.

If you have to stay off work for a while, try to get back as soon as possible. If you’ve been off work for four to six weeks, plan with your doctor, therapist or employer how and when you can return.

You could go back to work gradually; this is called a “graded return”. For instance, you might start with one day a week and gradually increase the time you spend at work.

You could also agree changes to your job or pattern of work, if it helps – a health and safety rep or occupational health department may be useful here.

Physical therapy for pain

Pain experts often recommend a short course of physical therapy. This helps you to move better, relieves your pain, and makes daily tasks and activities, such as walking, going up stairs, or getting in and out of bed, easier.

Physical therapy for persistent pain can involve manipulation, stretching exercises and pain relief exercises.

It’s usually delivered by an osteopath, chiropractor or a physiotherapist. Acupuncture is also offered across the UK by some healthcare providers, including physiotherapists, especially for back pain and neck pain.

Physiotherapists can give you advice on the right type of exercise and activity. Occupational therapists can support you with environmental changes that can help you remain in work and function better at home.

If you have physical therapy, you should begin to feel the benefits after a few sessions.

Your GP may be able to refer you for physical therapy on the NHS, though in some areas physical therapy is only available privately. In some areas, there is direct access to NHS physiotherapy without the need for a GP referral.

Find physiotherapy services in your area.

Your GP can also refer you for exercise on referral classes, and some centres have specific classes for low back pain.

Online help for pain

There’s a lot of online information if you’re living with pain.

General pain websites

Websites relating to specific conditions

Self help tips

The Pain Toolkit is a collection of helpful tips and strategies for persistent pain put together by a fellow sufferer:

Meditation for pain

This 20 minute guided meditation course from Meditainment is easy-to-follow, free and proven to help people cope with chronic pain.

It’s part of the Pathway through Pain online course which is provided by the NHS in some areas for people with persistent pain. Ask your GP or pain specialist how to access the course.

[Original article on NHS Choices website]

A Chronic Pain Personal Bill of Rights – which of these do you agree with and what would you add?

As I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog I’ve been working in healthcare information is some form or another for over a decade now.

In my days as a opinion researcher with people in pain a theme regularly came up in interviews of how many people felt – both powerless and overwhelmed by chronic pain.

So I was very interested when one of my readers sent me this infographic which offers some ideas for “A Chronic Pain Personal Bill of Rights”.

I must admit that while I agree with the sentiments of the infographic I have to say I don’t really see how it could be described as a Bill of Rights. No mention of access to decent pain management for instance.

But really that is just me.

What do you think of it? And what would you add to a “Chronic Pain Personal Bill of Rights”? Please do share you thoughts in the comments section below.

Many thanks in advance.


Click on the image for the full version!

A chronic Pain Personal Bill of Rights

From Visually.