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Ray Joseph's notebook.

That "touch of arthritis" may not be arthritis at all. It has been estimated that 20 percent of the visits to a physician relate to problems involving muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments that are not arthritic.

More often than not, these conditions clear by themselves in a few days. Our bodies are subject to many unconscious movements that often twist muscles and stretch tendons.

Sleeping habits can contribute to creating painful neck muscles. The manner in which a shoulder bag is carried, and attache cases overloaded, or sitting positions overburdened can result in various forms of muscular and tissue pain.

When arthritis flares, the most prudent action you can take is to rest the limb. Aspirin and other drugs, should they relieve the pain temporarily, are merely camouflaging the eruption. If a joint is painful when you move it, your body is telling you to rest that part. Pain is a defense mechanism. You can cause further damage by ignoring the warning. That is the problem with painkillers; they give us a false sense of relief.

Muscle inflammation can be arteritis, not arthritis. The former term describes inflammation of small blood vessels that supply the muscles. Inflammation of the arteries may lead to your doctor to understand other conditions that may be lurking.

Depression can create arthritic-like pains; many older people, burdened by grief and pessimism, lapse into feelings of helplessness and worthlessness. The body gait slows down, sleep becomes disturbed, the musculoskeletal form slouches, bringing on eventual stiffness and pain (similar symptoms may occur in people who have an underactive thyroid gland).

Osteoporosis is a condition that leads to loss of height in people as they grow older. The bones seem to shrivel. In arthritics who are on cortisone drugs, the process moves much more quickly. Cortisone steroid therapy is a high price to pay because it may incur complete invalidism.

Self-imposed deformity can result from putting a pillow under the knees to alleviate arthritic pain. The knees may stiffen in the bent position. Instead, request that your doctor order special splints individually designed for your particular condition. Such splints will enable you to rest the joints and prevent knee deformity.

Broken hips in the elderly are usually thought to be the result of a fall. More doctors are beginning to believe that the cause of the problem is actually in reverse. The hip bone degenerates from lack of calcium and breaks. The victim then falls. Not understanding the exact sequence of events has led many diagnosticians to overlook nutrient deficiencies in older people.

Why is the big toe usually the first sign of gout? It shows damage from wear and tear because of the effect of shoes. It is also the joint farthest from the heart and is the coldest one in the body. Both of these conditions together favor the crystallization of uric acid from its solution in the blood.

Curing gout by diet is not a myth. The writer suffered from gout and its full manifestations for many years. Then came a period of medication (Benemid[R]) that first brought on kidney stones and eventually held the level of uric acid to normal limits.

Because of various side effects from the drug, a decision was made to change dietary practices. Completely. All animal products were eliminated, including butter, cream, and milk. Where salt and sugar appeared, they were omitted. Coffee was discontinued. Alcohol was consumed only at rare intervals. A complete vegetarian diet was followed. The result: Two years later, without the benefit of any medication, uric acid levels are normal (4.7). It can be done!

Cold-sensitive arthritis is real. Pain seems to increase in cold, damp weather and to decrease in dry, warm weather. It is a myth, however, to believe that people do not suffer from arthritis in warm climates; it just hurts a little less.

Many people migrate to other parts of the country, only to be disillusioned by the very slight change in their condition. In fact, upsetting one's lifestyle and tearing up roots can cause psychic damage that translates to even further aggravated, arthritic pains.

If bacterial organisms are the cause of rheumatoid arthritic infections, one precaution that should be taken when going to the dentist for fillings and extractions is to increase the intake of vitamin C. Bacterial organisms that usually live in the mouth are liberated into the bloodstream for a short period when such dental work is done. Infection could settle elsewhere in the body.

Rickets, we know, is a vitamin-deficiency disease. Why is it so difficult to believe that if an arthritic-like ailment like rickets can be caused by lack of vitamin D that other forms of arthritis may be caused by the needs for nutrients?

Look for iron storage disease as a cause of arthritis, writes Julian Freeman, M.D., in his book Arthritis: The New Treatments.

"When iron supplements are raised in our food ... the body stores too much iron ... as a result there are liver problems, diabetes, and arthritis from the damage the iron causes. The treatment for this disease is to remove the (excess) iron from the body...."

Dr. Freeman is referring to the general practice among food processors to add iron supplementation to bread, cereals, etc. The consequence is that people unknowingly accumulate more iron than they need. The disease is known as hemochromatosis.

(Editor's Note: These articles originally appeared in Nutrition Health Review, Issue #17.)
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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Mar 22, 2012
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