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5 Facts You Need to Know About Joint Pain

September 27th, 2019

Joints are the places on the body where two or more bones meet. Humans have three main types of joints: synovial, cartilaginous, and fibrous. Synovial joints are freely moveable, meaning that they allow you to extend, rotate or pivot the bones to which they are connected. Some common examples of synovial joints are the knee, elbow, wrist, and knuckle joints.

Cartilaginous and fibrous joints provide little to no range of motion; the fibers that connect the bones on your skull are examples of fibrous joints. Cartilaginous joints can be found in between the vertebrae or connecting the pubic bones. When we talk about joint pain, we are typically referring to synovial joints.

Synovial joints, as the name suggests, are surrounded by a membrane filled with synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is a viscous liquid that keeps joints lubricated, but too much of it can trigger inflammation and pain. More often than not, join pain occurs when there is a buildup of synovial fluid caused by normal wear and tear, an injury or an autoimmune condition.

Joint pain can be chronic or temporary, mild or severe, and it can happen for several different reasons. These are five important facts that everybody who experiences joint pain should know.

 

Joint Pain

Joint pain can be caused by a variety of factors

The most prevalent cause of joint pain is arthritis, which is not a disease in and of itself, but an umbrella term used to describe inflammation and pain in one or more joints. Arthritis is extremely common; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American adults suffers from some type of arthritis. As of this year, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States.

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, and while it is usually more common among older adults (especially women), people of any age or gender can develop it. The two most frequent forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

OA, sometimes called degenerative arthritis, happens when one or more joints break down as a result of normal “wear and tear.” OA is the most common type of arthritis in middle-aged and older adults and tends to affect the hands, knees or hips. Symptoms of OA include pain, swelling, stiffness, and tenderness in or around the affected joints.

RA is an autoimmune disease that happens when the immune system attacks the joints and other parts of the body by mistake. When a person has RA, their immune system constantly activates an inflammatory response that causes the joints to swell and become extremely tender and painful. While most types of arthritis cannot be cured, certain medications, lifestyle changes, and natural supplements have been shown to help ease the symptoms and manage their pain.

But arthritis is not the only responsible for joint pain; other factors and conditions that may cause pain in or around the joints are:

  • Bursitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gout
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Injuries
  • Lupus
  • Lyme disease
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Some types of infections
  • Tendonitis
  • Whipple disease

Medications can help ease joint pain

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers that reduce inflammation and relieve pain and discomfort. Common NSAIDs that you’ve probably seen or even used yourself before are ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin. These medications can help with mild to moderate joint pain and even arthritis.

When OTC medications aren’t effective, your doctor may want to take a more serious approach. Injections are usually the second line of treatment for moderate to severe pain that doesn’t respond to drugs because they allow the medication to penetrate directly into the joint.

Depending on the type of injury and the location of the pain, your doctor may decide to inject hyaluronic acid, corticosteroids, stem cells or platelet-rich plasma. The downside to injections is that the effect is temporary, so the pain generally returns within a few months.

But long-term use can cause serious side effects

Just because OTC medications are available without a prescription doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful when you take them. Experts advise never taking NSAIDs for more than ten days without consulting a healthcare professional because extended use has been shown to:

  • Increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke
  • Cause headaches and dizziness
  • Develop stomach ulcers or cause stomach bleeding
  • Cause heartburn
  • Increase blood pressure
  • Damage the liver and kidneys

Nutritional Options

Supplements with proven benefits for joint pain include boswellia, hyaluronic acid,

Boswellia – A tree that produces a resin known to have anti-inflammatory properties and therapeutic benefits for joint pain/arthritis, rheumatism and gastrointestinal disorders. Of all the boswellia species, Boswellia Serrata is the most commonly used in herbal extracts and research.  (100 mg / day)

Hyaluronic Acid –  Is similar to a substance that occurs naturally in the joints.  It works by acting like a lubricant and shock absorber in the joints and helps the joints to work properly.  Hyaluronic acid helps in both initiating early inflammation for recovery and stopping the natural inflammatory response from going overboard.  (150 mg / day)

Ginger –  Recent research studies have shown that ginger can help reduce inflammation in people with arthritis and joint pain. Ginger contains more than 200 substances in its oils, which is why it has so many different uses. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine in India and has anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and antioxidant properties. Ginger has been known to be beneficial for arthritis sufferers because it blocks the formation of inflammatory compounds (prostaglandins and leukotrienes) and also has antioxidant effects that break down existing inflammation and acidity in the fluid within the joints.  (600 mg / day)

Feverfew  – Traditionally used for joint pain, feverfew  is more commonly used in migraines.  This herb can protect the joint against inflammatory changes. It can reduce the symptoms of arthritis like pain in the joints, restricted movements, swelling in the joints, redness of the skin overlying the joint, and stiffness.  (50 mg / day)

Boron – The element boron plays an important role in theintegration of calcium into the joint’s cartilage, which helps prevent joint deterioration and arthritis pain. Research shows people with lower boron concentrations in their bones and synovial fluid experience higher rates of arthritis than those with higher levels. (10 mg / day)

Physical therapy can give you some of your mobility back

When medications simply aren’t cutting it – but you are not ready for major surgery yet – it may be time to consider other options for relieving your pain. Physical therapy (PT) is a fantastic drug-free alternative for managing arthritis and other conditions that cause joint. The principal benefit of PT is that it can help you relieve stiffness and pain by gently strengthening the affected joint and surrounding areas.

PT uses a combination of tailored exercises and therapeutic approaches like ultrasound, massage therapy, and hydrotherapy to help people recover from injuries, manage conditions like RA or OA, and improve balance.

During a PT session, a licensed professional, called a physical therapist or physiotherapist, will assess your condition by asking you to perform a series of movements. Then, they will create a personalized routine and teach you exercises that you can do at home to improve your range of motion. In many cases, PT can help people avoid surgery and significantly improve their quality of life.

PT is often prescribed by doctors, but in some states you can go to a physical therapist by yourself without a referral. Most health insurances cover all or most of the costs of PT.

Lifestyle changes can minimize pain

Natural approaches to pain management are becoming more and more popular because people want to avoid the side effects of painkillers. Here are three lifestyle changes that will help you maintain function and keep your pain at a minimum.

Hot and cold therapy

Applying heat and cold to your joints is the simplest (and cheapest!) treatment to relieve joint pain, and you can do it from the comfort of your own home. Heat is an effective home remedy for treating stiffness because it promotes blood circulation and relaxes the muscles, and cold reduces inflammation and temporarily alleviates pain.

Apply heat to the affected area by taking a long, warm bath or by laying a heating pad or electric blanket over the affected area. Cold treatments can be done by placing a gel ice pack on the painful joint, but remember to protect the skin with a towel or a cloth to avoid injuries. Do not apply cold for more than 8 minutes at a time.

Losing weight

Losing even a couple of pounds can significantly improve joint pain according to experts. In fact, one published in 2005 found that losing only one pound can ease up to four pounds of pressure from your knees. This means that if you lost just five pounds you would be removing 20 pounds of weight from your knee joints!

Swimming

Everybody knows that physical activity is important for improving your overall health and reducing your risk of developing chronic a condition like heart disease or type 2 diabetes. However, when you have an achy joint exercising is usually the last thing on your mind.

The good news is that aquatic activities are both gentle on the joints and extremely effective at soothing pain. The buoyancy of water reduces impact while making you work harder than you would on land, which means that you can burn more calories.

Swimming on a heated pool can also provide some much-needed relief. Remember to bring a flotation device if you are going to work out the deep end of the pool if you get tired or want some extra support.

CBD, CBD, CBD, OMG!

September 23rd, 2019

Unless you have been living on a remote tropical island (and if you are I am jealous),  it is unlikely that you have not been exposed to the nonstop hype and claims about CBD being a cure for every illness known to men or women– So I felt a need to put this huge and growing topic into perspective for my readers.  In other words, what we do and do not know, and whether or not there is a rational approach for most people.

WHAT WE DO AND DO NOT KNOW ABOUT CBD
The two compounds thought to be potentially therapeutic that occur both in cannabis (marijuana) and hemp which are two different plants,  are THC ( tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Chemically speaking, CBD and THC are almost identical, however, once they enter the body they interact with receptors that produce different effects.  THC causes the “high” feeling associated with recreational marijuana but CBD does not.  CBD is associated with the myriad of unsubstantiated claims being made. THC containing products in excess of .3% are medically and legally restricted. CBD containing products with less than .3% THC are available in most states. The long-term effects of THC and CBD are not well known but the safety of CBD at least in the short term looks good.

CBD elements in Cannabis, Hemp oil, medical marijuana, cannabinoids and health.

It wasn’t until the last couple of years that CBD-infused products began popping up nearly everywhere, from skincare products to dog treats, gummy candy and everything in between.  If you’ve strolled around the supplement aisle at your local grocery store or pharmacy lately, you’ve maybe noticed something that wasn’t there before: the cannabis leaf – the quintessential imagery used to depict marijuana – stamped across dozens of products. Aptly named “alternative care,” balms, creams, and oils are sold as a natural solution to easing anxiety, alleviating body aches, and more.

According to CBD aficionados, there is almost no ailment that this supposedly miraculous elixir can’t cure.  But in an era where millions of people are more inclined to believe what they read on social media, we should ask ourselves: can we truly believe that a plant-derived oil promotes hair growth, prevents cancer, improves cholesterol, and manages anxiety or chronic pain– all by itself?

In 2018 a prescription drug containing CBD was approved for the treatment of two rare drug-resistant forms of childhood epilepsy and seizures;  Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.  However,  the dose of this drug is 500 mg a day which is about 100 times higher than the CBD in every product being marketed to consumers and the 500 mg dose in the prescription drug is just for kids.

Dr. Paul Pacher of the NIH and president of the International Cannabinol Research Society stated,  “Consumers are participating in one of the largest uncontrolled clinical trials in history and we really have no idea what it is they are taking… It’s scary.”

Currently there is a huge and growing list of claims being made for CBD.  All are mostly anecdotal except for the previously mentioned 500 mg dose for children with epilepsy.  There are only a handful of human trials studying CBD and they are very conflicting and provide no evidence that can be relied upon. Coupled with the fact that these claims are illegal in addition to being unsubstantiated, CBD  may very well lead to riches at least in the short term for the companies selling these products and making these illegal claims.  Keep in mind that the health benefits are still questionable for the consumers of these products.

Upon reading this article, no doubt hundreds of people will email me stating CBD works for them…  so I will respond in advance to those emails. To be clear, my position on CBD right now is that there is no good science showing it does anything to treat all of the health conditions for which it is being touted. Could my position change if more and better science is published? Absolutely! But only time will tell.

THE POWER OF THOUGHT
It is important to understand the power of the brain and positive thinking on people’s ability to accurately judge the health benefits of drugs or supplements they are consuming. The placebo effect is very real and powerful! For example in many clinical trials measuring the pain reducing effects of drugs, up to 50% of people taking the placebo pill (which contains no drug medication) claim noticeable improvement in their pain levels. Additionally many of the CBD products being sold are combined with other ingredients like menthol or peppermint oil which may be yielding the benefit and not the CBD.

Mislabeling of CBD products is a real issue with some products having much less CBD than stated on the label or others having much higher amounts than the allowable .3% of THC.  It’s a bit like the wild west, so be cautious.

SUMMING UP CBD

1- No good science yet exists documenting any of the anecdotal and illegal claims being made

2- A strong possibility of placebo effect exists.

2- Questionable levels of CBD and THC in some products.

3- The dose of CBD being sold to consumers is close to 100 times less than the dose proven effective for children’s seizures. Trying to take 100 times more would cost over $1000 a month with no guarantee of any benefits.

I am perfectly willing to get behind and support CBD if and when quality scientific data exists for specific claims.  But until then, count me out!  ….even if I get hundreds of emails asking why Akeso doesn’t offer a CBD product

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, Chief Scientific Officer
Akeso health sciences LLC

Akeso Health Sciences

 

Vitamin D3 – Amazing Health Benefits

April 27th, 2019

Much More Than Bone Health

Vitamin D3 benefits

Most people know Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) is essential for strong bones, because it helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus from the diet.  Vitamin D3 benefits are far more extensive and in fact decrease the risk of all cause mortality (death regardless of the cause).  Although vitamin D is made by the body when skin is exposed to sunlight, the majority of people have below optimal levels of D3.  In fact a study showed below optimal levels of vitamin D3 in many people from a group of outdoor workers.  Also, sunscreen, protective clothing, limited exposure to sunlight, dark skin, and age may prevent getting enough vitamin D from the sun.  So even if you are in the sun a lot, that is no guarantee your vitamin D3 levels are sufficient.  Almost everyone should be supplementing with vitamin D3 for the following reasons:

Vitamin D3 supports

  • Supports a Healthy Nervous System
  • Supports Immune System
  • Healthy Teeth
  • Healthy Bones
  • Healthy Lung Function
  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Improves Brain Function
  • Regulates Insulin Levels
  • Aides in Diabetes Management

Vitamin D3 Lowers risk of 

  • Flu
  • Diabetes (Type 1 & 2)
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Eczema & Psoriasis
  • Bone Fractures
  • Heart Disease
  • Hypertension
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s
  • All Cause Mortality

Optimal levels of Vitamin D3 range between 60 – 90 nanograms/ml. 

If you fall below this range, consider supplementing with 2,500 -5,000 I.U. daily.  Some people, even with additional daily D-3 supplementation, do not easily increase their vitamin D-3 levels, so you may need to double your daily intake.  If upon having them tested the second time, your levels did not increase very much (despite having doubled your daily dose), discuss this with your doctor.  You may have to take as much as 50,000 IU of vitamin D-3 a day (or more) to get up to 60-90 ng/ml. I know that going to your doctor’s office or a lab can be inconvenient but it is extremely worth it to decrease your risk of death from all causes as well as specifically from heart disease and cancer!

You do not want to miss out on any of the health benefits listed above.

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.
Akeso Health Sciences

 

 

The Costly American Healthcare System

April 13th, 2017

The power of huge corporations and politics adds up to Americans paying the most in the world for healthcare yet two years ago we were ranked dead last for the fifth time in the developed world and last year the World Health Organization listed the U.S as 37th in overall efficiency.  A few of the 36 countries that rate higher than the U.S. are France, Italy, Singapore, Spain, Israel, Austria, Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Columbia, Germany, the UK, Sweden, Canada, Chile…  The list goes on and on and it is a disgrace.

Furthermore, the United States health statistics seem to be getting worse. Last year, America was the only developed country in the world that experienced a decrease in life expectancy.

American’s pay 2-4 times more for the same pharmaceutical drugs purchased by citizens of other major countries. Pharmaceutical companies donate hundreds of millions of dollars to politicians in order to influence the price our American healthcare system pays for their drugs.  In fact, a study by Harvard researchers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that the nature of the American drug market as designed and regulated by our government is to blame.  Other countries negotiate much harder to keep the drug prices down and are willing to say “No” to over priced drugs.

As a percentage of our gross domestic product, the U.S. cost of healthcare was 50% higher than France and almost double that of the United Kingdom yet we rank dead last. The profits of the huge healthcare and pharmaceutical companies are thriving but the American citizens are not.

Though dietary supplements were not shown by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) to have caused one death last year while prescriptions drugs were shown to have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, district attorneys of some states, in my opinion, to further their own political careers and aspirations have attacked the supplement industry and conspicuously for the most part, have left big pharma alone.  This is politics at its worst.  These are attempts by politically motivated entities and individuals to divert our attention away from the very real and serious problems by worrying about what… Vitamins?

Obvioiusly, this is all very upsetting and we as American citizens are getting the raw end of the deal. I don’t know how to curtail the power that the money of huge corporations can buy politically but I do know what you can do to rely less on this broken American healthcare system.

You’ve heard this before but you need to stay healthy:

  • Exercise, even if its just walking for10-15 minutes a day 4-5 times a week.
  • Cut back on sugar… Read labels and try to consume less than 50 grams a day of sugar, and cutting back on soda and deserts is a good place to start.
  • Take a multi-vitamin every day from one of the well known dietary supplement companies.
  • Get at least 7 hours a day of sleep.
  • Try to eat fish like salmon at least once a week, don’t worry about mercury, the issue is way over-stated and not of concern.

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

Statin Drugs for Healthy People?

April 9th, 2017

Healthy People

So you’re pretty healthy and your doctor wants you to take a statin drug to lower your cholesterol… Should you take it?

If you are healthy, meaning you do not have uncontrolled high blood pressure,  type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and you have not been diagnosed with heart disease or have a family history of parents or siblings dying at relatively young ages of heart attacks, you should probably say NO to taking statin drugs.  This applies even if you are overweight as studies show that at least half of obese people are medically healthy.

Even in people with moderate levels of coronary artery calcium (hardening of the arteries), only 1 heart attack in 94 would be prevented by taking statins.  93 would have received no benefit but run the increased risks of developing liver damage, diabetes, dementia, peripheral neuropathy etc. In fact a study published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology found that statin drugs may increase the risk of developing hardening of the arteries (coronary calcium) and the lead author stated –“I cannot find any good evidence to support people taking statin drugs!” One of the co-authors stated – “I don’t think statin drugs should have ever been approved.”

There is absolutely no quality evidence demonstrating that healthy people who take statin drugs to lower their cholesterol live longer, and in fact a fairly recent study in the BMJ (British Medical Journal)  stated that people over the age of 60 with high cholesterol live longer than people of the same age with lower cholesterol levels. The study reviewed the results of 19 published studies covering close to 70,000 patients.  (Gee, I wonder why that study was never mentioned by my local news channel? Anything to do with the billions of dollars of lost revenue if people stopped taking statins?)

Let me sum things up by quoting Dr. Rita Redberg, professor of medicine at University of California at San Francisco and director of Women’s Cardiovascular Services who stated in a published article – “ For most healthy people the data shows that statins do not prevent heart disease nor extend life or quality of life and they come with considerable side-effects. That’s why I don’t recommend giving statins to healthy people, even those with higher cholesterol… I can’t in good conscience recommend them.”

If you are healthy, do not worry about your cholesterol.  Instead focus on keeping your weight under control, eating vegetables daily, avoiding sugar and getting plenty of exercise.

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

 

RELATED ARTICLE:  Do Not Take Another Statin Drug for Lowering Cholesterol Until You Read This!