Arthritis – How to Deal with It

I’m going to be writing about many of the health issues we Baby Boomers are facing.  I’m going to start with my own adventures because I can describe them better and relate to them for you.  When I get through my few maladies, I’ll bring in other “experts” who have other ailments to share with you as we move forward.

The goal here is to share our experiences, share our fears and thoughts, share our successes and hopefully help each other navigate through these illnesses and issues.  Thanks to huge advances in technology and science during our lifetime, we have the opportunity to live much longer and much better than any previous generation.  This website is built on the idea of sharing all of the intelligence and information possible to help each of you enjoy and thrive in your “senior” years.

Arthritis

Okay, my first and most impactful issue is arthritis of the hip.  My mother and both grandmothers had arthritis in her hands.  But I never really expected it myself.  Obviously, I was in denial.

A little background is necessary:  I’ve lost three life savings so far.  I won’t go into detail but just let me say the dot-com era was great for me right up until it wasn’t, so I moved into real estate.  You all know how that worked out.  I always prided myself as being the one Baby Boomer who was not born with a silver spoon to actually plan for retirement.  Ha!  The Universe has a very mean sense of humor.

Bottom line, I am nowhere near retirement.  I need to work another 10 years (or win the lottery) to get back up to where I was a couple of times before financially.  Again…and this will be a theme throughout my writing…I am blessed with very strong genes, a great ex-wife who taught me the value of nutrition, and a lifetime of being a jock which taught me to take care of my body.  So, I just kept on keeping on.

Then, in 2015 I had a hernia operation.  No big deal.  Just a small hernia that hurt in my groin…like most hernias.  Football related.  The bad news was that after the operation, my groin hurt even more.  I challenged my surgeon who proved to me that the hernia was successfully gone.  What he and his x-ray team showed me was arthritis in my hip.

Who knew that arthritis in my hip caused excruciating pain in my groin.  No fun.  Again, football induced, along with 18 years of baseball, 7 years of rugby and 15 years of 1,000 mile running.  I had crunched my hip bones together.  Duh!  As my doctor said, “I have 50 guys your age, old jocks, who have the same problem.”

There are over 100 types of arthritis.  I will dive into that in a separate post.  But what I have is osteoarthritis, degenerative arthritis caused by time, crunching my bones together.  It’s the most common of all types of arthritis.  And, lucky me, it doesn’t take prescription drugs to cure or manage it.

Deal With It

I was gimping around.  Business travel was awful.  Walking through SFO, O’Hare and Kennedy was the worst.  Running was impossible.  Just walking was even tough.  I had recently lost 35 pounds just by cutting calorie intake (another post topic for later) so I needed the exercise to keep the weight off.

The woman I was dating at the time said, “Get a hip replacement.”  Easy for her to say.  My view of that operation was being hung from a rack, cut in half horizontally with a chain saw, removing my hip bones, replacing them with bionic, metallic replacement hips, and sewn back together.  Freaked me out.  Her ex-husband was a doctor and all of her neighbors were rich old people with new hips.  I should have listened to her.  Maybe that’s why she’s my “ex” girlfriend.

I decided to go natural.  I got into a doctor-prescribed physical therapy regimen.  Other than the fact that my PT person was a great looking…and very capable…young woman, that was a total waste of time.

If Von Miller thinks this works…

Then my son Googled cryogenic tanks…those sub-zero temperature chambers that supposedly help with joint problems. 

I gave it a shot.  The doctor was great (if you’re looking for more information or referrals…Dr. Scott Sheil-Brown…www.cherrycreekspine.com) and the experience was strange.  I stood in someone else’s boxers that the clinic supplied (they were clean), in -200 degrees for a couple of minutes looking at pictures of Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets and other super jocks who had done the same thing.  I figured, hell, if Von Miller thinks this works, who am I to question it?

I actually got some major relief, but only for about 30 minutes.  Upshot, the doctor pulled me out of the cryogenic tank after 3 sessions and told me I needed to do physical therapy instead.  After my previous physical therapy experience, I was understandably skeptical.

But “Dr. Scott” really knows his craft.  He had me stretching some muscles and strengthening others, all based on what I had subconsciously been creating to deal with the arthritic pain.  I ended up after 10 sessions with 10 daily exercises that I did for over a year.  Major relief from pain as long as I did them every day.  So you know, I also researched all of this online and learned that what Dr. Scott was prescribing was precisely what people can do to make osteoarthritis tolerable.  So, he was spot on.  What I learned later was that the problem was that my cartilage was so far gone, nothing would have helped.  More on that in a minute.

In addition to the PT, I tried supplements.  You know how it goes.  Everyone in your life has tried everything for their ailments…mainly for arthritis, at least among my friends.  They had all tried all the prescription drugs you hear about in infomercials.  (NOTE:  Prescription drugs are NOT for osteoarthritis.  They can’t rebuild cartilage.  Prescription drugs are for other forms of arthritis:  rheumatoid, infectious, metabolic, etc.)

The reports were consistent…necessary, but in most cases no good.  Avoid prescription drugs particularly if you have osteoarthritis.  Not only did my friends report that prescription drugs didn’t relieve osteoarthritic pain, they came with side effects like stomach irritation, ulcers, stomach bleeding, kidney damage, high blood pressure, emotional issues, cataracts and osteoporosis, among others.  Lovely.  But if you have rheumatoid or metabolic or other types of arthritis, you may be willing to tolerate those side effects in order to get some relief.  Again, a deeper dive into all things arthritic in later posts.

I again decided to go natural.  I had many other friends who suggested turmeric for joint pain.  For those of you who don’t know, turmeric is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant of the ginger family.  It is native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

Turmeric plants are gathered annually and then used fresh or boiled in water and then dried in hot ovens, after which they are ground into a deep-orange-yellow powder. commonly used as a coloring and flavoring agent in many Asian cuisines, especially for curries. Turmeric powder has a warm, bitter, pepper-like flavor and earthy, mustard-like aroma.  You can take it as a powder, use it in cooking or take capsules as a supplement.

Although long used in Ayurvedic medicine, no high-quality clinical equivalent exists for use of turmeric or its main constituent, curcumin, as a therapy.  It took me a while to get up to the right dosage, which for me was greater than 1,000mg per capsule daily, and to learn that I needed to order turmeric that added bioprene black pepper which helps speed human body assimilation.

If you’re ready to start comparing turmeric brands, I recommend Nature’s Nutrition Turmeric that I researched and found on Amazon.com.   It’s 1950 mg which make it even more potent.   

Another great option is Costco 1,000mg  turmeric capsules.  Much cheaper, and just as effective, if you can stand Costco crowds.  I can’t.  I’ve become an online shopping junkie.

The other huge supplement came from my physical therapy doctor, Dr. Scott.    He suggested Bromelain.  Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple juice and in the pineapple stem. It is used for reducing swelling (inflammation), especially of the nose and sinuses, after surgery or injury.  Dr. Scott said it’s basically an entire pineapple in one tablet.

Some people use a product for arthritis that combines Bromelain with trypsin (a protein) and Rutin (a substance found in buckwheat). Bromelain used in this way seems to reduce pain and improve joint function in people with arthritis. it sure worked for me.  There evidently isn’t enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not Bromelain is effective for any of its other uses.  But again, it worked for me…better than turmeric, and even better in combination.

In researching and comparing for Bromelain, you can shop all day, but I’d say get 500mg Triple Strength Bromelain from Country Life on Amazon.com.  That’s the brand I ended up with.

Then the major panacea for me came as a fortunate resident of Colorado.  CBD ointment.  Again, for the uninitiated, this the legal derivative of hemp that can be sold in all states that are enlightened enough to allow medical marijuana laws.

In Colorado, I could buy the THC version of the salve.  I bought some at a local weed dispensary in Denver.  Zero impact.  I know, disappointing, right?  But then I found another product on Amazon.com, ADHEMP Recover Cream and that worked much better.  But the best of all was from a waiter friend of mine whose wife is a doctor.  My friend told me that his wife had created a CBD version salve.  I bought a tin.  Spectacular relief.  Seriously.  I only used it at night and I couldn’t travel with it because of the drug-sniffing dogs in the airport security lines, but this stuff was amazing.

If you want to shop and compare medical hemp products, check out www.medicalmarijuanacommisary.com.  They offer a wide variety of oils, creams, salves, vapes and pills.  (some in the picture below)  And some of these are made for relaxation and sleep enhancement, not strong enough for direct pain relief.

Amazon.com also offers a wide variety of hemp CDB oils and supplements.  The one I like best, other than my friend’s wife’s concoction, was ADHEMP Recover Natural Hemp Oil Pain Relief Cream.   This product can be applied directly on my hip without the oiliness of the natural oils.  And while you’re doing that, I’ll continue to try to track down my waiter friend who has changed jobs twice and get his wife’s contact info

Between the physical therapy, turmeric, Bromelain and CBD salve,  I was doing very well, thank you.  Still couldn’t follow through on a golf shot as much as I needed to, but I could finish 18 holes or hike 5 miles on flat terrain carrying the CBD salve.  All of that was much more work than 5 years prior, but, ever the optimist, I thought maybe I had beaten the arthritis scourge.

Now For the Bad News

I then changed primary physicians early in 2018 for totally unrelated reasons.  During that initial meeting I was bragging about my natural regemine.  My new doctor checked my flexibility in my hip.  I couldn’t lift my left knee across my right knee.  He gave me that “doctor” look over his reading glasses.  I knew what was next.  He said, “I know you feel good about your natural homeopathy, but it’s time to think about a hip replacement.”  I told him about my vision of chainsaws.  He laughed and walked me through what expect.  I said I would think about it.

But he had planted the psychosomatic seed…10 sleepless painful nights, no hiking, running out of CBD salve, and ongoing limping…I did a bunch of online research and made another appointment.

My doctor set me up with an orthopedic surgeon.  I met with the surgeon who took new, extremely high resolution, x-rays, and showed me where the issues were.  He said, “Tom, this is the worst hip I’ve seen in years.”  I said, “I’ll bet you say that to all the girls.”  He said, “No, really, I’m surprised you’re walking.”  I told him proudly, “I’m walking 3 miles a day.”  He said, “Stop that immediately.”  I did.

I then did even more research.  (I’m a little anal that way).  I learned my “chainsaw” vision was only in movies made in Texas.  This is a 98% success rate, a 4-inch incision and a 3-week recuperation.  I now have my “procedure”…love that term…scheduled for September 18, 2018.

Actually I’m really looking forward to it.  Well, not looking forward to the procedure itself or the recovery period, but I am definitely looking forward to following through on a golf shot, hiking at altitude and running through airports.  I’m going to be very happy.

So, that’s the first part of my arthritis story.  I hope you find useful information here about physical therapy, turmeric, Bromelain and CBD ointments.  Let me know what you know, what you think, what you’ve experienced.  As always, this is a dialog, not a sermon.

Tom

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *