Category: Bones

Can an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Help Osteoarthritis?

anti-inflammatory fruits

Inflammation is one of the key symptoms of osteoarthritis accompanying pain and joint degeneration. It would make sense, then, that an anti-inflammatory diet would help to relieve some of the pain and discomfort, and possibly slow some deterioration.

The problem is that there is no clear evidence that an anti-inflammatory diet will relieve the symptoms of any particular disease.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Reduces Cytokines

There is pretty clear evidence that a diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids and low in refined grains can reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines and helps with the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines – proteins that help transmit signals within the body. There is general agreement that an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce low levels of inflammation in most people.

Because of this most doctors and nutritionists will suggest that a diet low in inflammatory foods, such as the Mediterranean diet, certainly can’t hurt.

Reducing Inflammation May Not Be Enough

Even with inflammation reduced, certain diseases such as osteoarthritis will continue to progress. There is no clinical evidence that diet alone will slow the eventual progress of the disease or eliminate associated pain. For that reason most health care providers suggest a moderate diet in combination with other remedies such as exercise and losing weight.

There are plenty of testimonials online that suggest near-miraculous results from maintaining an anti-inflammatory diet. While the people who give these testimonials may indeed have experienced relief over pain and discomfort, it can’t be determined how much relief is coming from their diet and how much from exercise, weight loss or other therapies.

So while we don’t know whether or not an anti-inflammatory diet will help with osteoarthritis symptoms, it certainly can’t hurt.

Pop Goes the Knee – My Journey with Osteoarthritis

types of meniscus tears

In September 2016 while on an easy 3 mile jog I stepped wrong and felt my knee “pop.” I felt a sharp pain and had to limp home where I put ice on my knee. I tried ice and rest for a few days with no improvement so went off to see my doctor where I was referred to an orthopedist. An MRI and several X-rays revealed that not only did I have a probable torn meniscus, but I also had osteoarthritis, to the point where there is not enough cartilage remaining in my right knee to make a repair possible.

The orthopedist said there was not much I could do short of total knee replacement. I asked about physical therapy and he said that it often simply makes the condition worse.

I tried the recommended treatments, rest, ice and a started wearing a neoprene sleeve. Eventually my knee felt better – good enough that my wife and I took up ballroom dance lessons.

I also went to another orthopedist for a second opinion and he referred me to physical therapy, mostly stretching exercises to relieve pressure on the patella. I’ve had injections of hyaluronic acid – a lubricant to help supplement the synovial fluid in the knee joint. More recently I’ve had new pain in my left knee which the doctor thinks might also be a torn meniscus. However in this case he thinks there might be enough cartilage to be worth a repair.

After this I had cortisone injections, which helped a little but weren’t as big a relief as I was expecting.

So far the pain isn’t constant. I’ll have a “flare up” that can last two weeks or so. After a little rest my knees will be comfortable enough to walk normally. Recently I had a touch of fever, probably a seasonal bug, and remarkably all pain and discomfort vanished from my knees. Now that I’m done with the fever I can feel discomfort in my knee joints again. I don’t know if the fever interrupted the inflammatory response in my knees or exactly what that was about.

If the disease progresses normally and I end up with knee replacement surgery then I can expect to get worse and become more immobile over the next 4-5 years until a major surgery might offer relief. I realize that I need to learn more about the disease, treatments and what I can do to make things better in the mean time. So as I learn more, I’ll post more.

True Grit is What Leads to Success…and Happiness

grit leads to success and happiness

John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit

If you need any more evidence about what it takes to find happiness, here it is – grit. Simply sticking to your master plan is a better indicator of success…and ultimately happiness…than brains or luck. This not-so-surprising news comes from a Time article about MacArthur genius Angela Duckworth and her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Grit, when coupled with passion, purpose and a heaping spoonful of hope can help us go the extra mile and come out on top – even if you’re not well on your way to a “job you can love.”

David Yeager recommends reflecting on how the work you’re already doing can make a positive contribution to society… reflecting on purpose led students to double the amount of time they spent studying for an upcoming exam, work harder on tedious math problems when given the option to watch entertaining videos instead, and, in math and science classes, bring home better report card grades. Amy Wrzesniewski recommends thinking about how, in small but meaningful ways, you can change your current work to enhance its connection to your core values.

But before you go all in with the stiff upper lip and all that, just be warned that even Duckworth questions the hype that her notion of grit is getting.

I think the misunderstanding — or, at least, one of them — is that it’s only the perseverance part that matters. But I think that the passion piece is at least as important. I mean, if you are really, really tenacious and dogged about a goal that’s not meaningful to you, and not interesting to you — then that’s just drudgery. It’s not just determination — it’s having a direction that you care about.
–Angela Duckworth to The Science of Us

How to Remove a Fishhook and Other Extraction Tips

 

picture-2

Here’s some essential knowledge if you ever plan on fishing with me…via a tweet from Guy Kawasaki…Wired’s How-to Wiki explains how to remove a fishhook from a buddy.

But why stop there? Here are some other helpful extraction techniques you should know:

[Originally posted April 10, 2009]

Gut Check – Is Your Intestinal Biome Making You Crazy?

Bifidobacterium

Bifidobacterium longum | Image: Wikimedia Commons via Motherboard

You might want to skip the hand sanitizer after you read this…a new study from New York City’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai cited in the Huffington Post reveals that an imbalance in your intestinal flora could be making you mentally ill. Or worse.

In particular the study shows that intestinal bacteria may override genetics when it comes to illnesses like depression, anxiety and even neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis. Therapy for some of these disorders may be accomplished by getting one’s intestinal flora back in balance. But this…of course…will require more research.

In the mean time what can you do to get your gut in balance? You might think that ingesting “healthy” bacteria (think yogurt) is the way to go. But maybe not so fast. Mark Hyman, MD is big on the “oil change” – replacing polyunsaturated vegetable oils with healthy Omega 3 oils. Also fermented foods, in other words don’t hold the pickle.

Liam Springer also cautions to go easy on the probiotics. His contrarian idea is to add more dairy even…and maybe especially if…you are lactose intolerant Read the link, he explains it better than I can. And carrots.

All in all though, it seems like we need to spend more time listening to our gut.

How to Relieve the Sting of a Texas Bull Nettle

Texas Bull Nettle

Texas Bull Nettle | Photo by Neil Sperry

A brush with a nettle of any species is something to avoid but the Texas bull nettle (Cnidoscolus texanus) is particularly nasty. My East Texas offers some tips for dealing with with bull nettle if you ever get stung.

While there are several theories for relief floating around, most folks will recommend urinating on it! Urine contains something that reacts chemically and soothes the pain instantly on contact. Urinating on yourself, or perhaps your buddy, might seem a bit unorthodox and disgusting, but when you wade off into a bull nettle, you’ll be ready to try just about anything.

The article goes on to suggest a paste made of baking soda as an effective and more pleasant neutralizer for the bull nettle’s sting. Baking soda works by neutralizing the high pH of the folic acid in the bull nettle’s sting. Baking soda is also a great treatment for insect stings so it makes sense to keep a small amount in your first aid kit.

You might also look for jewelweed, said to grow in the vicinity of many nettles. Jewelweed is popular folk remedy for bullnettle, poison oak, poison ivy and stinging nettle (urtica dioica) which delivers histamine into the skin of its victim.

[Via My East Texas]

How to Start Over When You Don’t Know Where to Start

I just had a setback. It might not seem like a big deal to you but my office that I’ve been struggling to get organized and keep organized just got turned into a junk room. After four months of work in my spare time I’m back to square one. Maybe even square minus-one.

How do people start over when they face “real” problems – say a business failure or a divorce?

Sam Harris thinks that sometimes you have to act fast even when the outcomes are risky. Big risks sometimes means bigger rewards.

Journalist Susannah Breslin agrees that radical change is better than slow change.

Here is the thing about radical change: It changes your life radically. More importantly, it changes who you are radically.

Of course “going big” might also mean starting small. When you don’t know were to begin, when you’re truly stumped, sometimes you have to simply start somewhere, anywhere and just tinker around until you can see things more clearly.

The secret though is to do something.

Forget Quinoa and Kale – 2015’s Superfood Should Be the Pickle

You’ve heard (ad nauseam no doubt) about the health-giving benefits of garlic. Hot tip: it’s all about the allicin.

For the record, garlic is said to:

  • Fight harmful bacteria
  • Ward off viruses
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Improve cholesterol
  • Prevent Alzheimer’s disease
  • Boost athletic performance
  • Remove heavy metal from the body (sadly not from the neighbor’s stereo)
  • Fight off osteoporosis

You may also be vaguely aware that apple cider vinegar is supposed to have near-magical healing properties including:

  • Weight loss
  • The ability to moderate blood sugar (especially in pre-diabetic persons)
  • Improving digestion
  • Clearing up sinus problems
  • Curing dadruff
  • Eliminating acne
  • Whitening teeth (or possibly eliminating teeth altogether)

But you may be less aware of the proven bacteria-fighting effects of the lowly cucumber. Among other things, cucumbers are said to:

  • Heal sunburn
  • Remove toxins
  • Repair skin, hair and nail damage
  • Reduce muscle and joint pain
  • Reduce cholesterol
  • Ward off diabetes

All that said, what’s all the fuss about kale and quinoa? Pickles have to be packing at least three times the punch of these supposed superfoods. In fact I don’t know why you’d have to eat anything else at all – except maybe bacon now and then. So why don’t we kinda all get together and agree that the pickle is the superfood for 2015?

Anxious? Why “Stay Calm” Might Be the Worst Thing to Tell Yourself

Anxious woman bites nails

What’s your go-to move when you feel yourself on the verge of a freak-out? Telling yourself to take a deep breath and chill out might be exactly the wrong strategy. PysBlog reports on research by Alison Woods Brooks that suggests that hitting the emotional gas pedal might get you into the clear. Subjects who told themselves “I’m feeling excited” out-performed those who told themselves to “calm down” when faced with anxiety over public speaking.

I don’t know why this would work, I don’t have the $12 to download Brooks’ report. A barely educated guess is that anxiety bathes your neurosystem with cortisol, the “fight or flight” stress hormone that makes you cramp up and totally choke when you step up to a podium. And guess what hormone is also responsible for the rush that comes when you’re totally stoked, bungee jumping or riding down a steep hill on your fixie? Yep, it’s cortisol.

What differentiates cold-sweating fear and jubilation? Seems like the physiology might be the same – it’s how you interpret what’s happening that makes the difference.

[Photo via MaxwellGS]

Reinventing Yourself for 2014 – Will It Be As Don Draper or a Terrorist?

There’s a little bit of Jay Gatsby in each of us. To live in America is to be surrounded on all sides by a narrative that says you can be anything you want to be. You can reinvent yourself, leave your past behind, move out West, reach for the stars, follow your dreams.

But maybe this mythology of reinvention isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Marc Freedman, founder of Encore.org, a nonprofit that supports “second acts” in life, thinks that the whole idea of reinvention is dangerous. Aiming to build a “whole new you” might mean tossing out some valuable resources. Worse yet, by focusing on some kind of idealized self you could easily miss your true potential.

Freedman advocates “reintegration” over reinvention, drawing on a lifetime of knowledge and experience to accomplish new things.

Don Draper or Nicholas Brody?

Mad Men’s Don Draper is a case study in the kind of reinvention that Freedman is concerned about. Draper grew up motherless and in poverty during the depression. Along the way he has the chance to escape his past and he grabs it with both fists. He finds his “sweet spot” distilling desire and selling the American dream.

Draper’s problem is that he has to keep his multiple selves, like the women in his life, from meeting each other. If he ever stopped to explore the complexity of his life and discovered value in telling the truth he could well lose his Midas’ touch in the ad biz.

And this brings us to Sergeant Nicholas Brody, the highly complex central character from the TV series Homeland. In the course of Brody’s three year arc he swings wildly between hero and villain. Where he finally ends up is anybody’s guess.

Like Draper, Brody’s life has become a series of lies plastered on top of each other. A prisoner of war he was “turned” by the enemy and cultivated as a kind of Manchurian candidate. But then he gets “re-turned” by the CIA. Brody’s life eventually becomes a rapid spin-cycle around the Wall of Death.

Unlike Draper though, Brody desperately looks for some kind of thread in his life to pull things together. Is he a war hero? A victim? A family man? A killer? I’ll leave you to judge for yourself how successful Brody is at pulling of a “second act” and redeeming himself but it’s clear that when he does well it is because he finds strength and stability in his past. It’s impossible to imagine Brody pulling off his fait accompli without drawing on all of his previous experiences.

The contrast between these two figures is pretty stark. In their respective stories each has reached the end of the line. But only one will be remembered for who he truly was.

How Now Brown Cow: Chocolate Milk as a Recovery Drink

After hearing for years that water is the best thing to drink after exercise I was surprised to hear that the latest thing in recovery drinks is…chocolate milk!

I don’t know if it’s my imagination – or the placebo effect – but my knees do seem to feel better if I follow a run with a big glass of low fat chocolate milk. One thing I’m sure of, it’s been a great motivator. On days that I’m struggling with an extra helping of “doan wanna” it’s a little easier to get out on the trail knowing that there will be a big frosty mug of chocolate milk waiting at the end.

The Pros

According to WebMD chocolate milk has the following benefits over most sports drinks:

  • 3-to-1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein
  • Easily digested whey protein that can begin rebuilding muscle tissue immediately
  • Casein, a protein that is digested slowly and reduces amount of muscle breakdown well after the workout

Livestrong, a site that seems completely sold on the idea of chocolate milk after working out, cites a number of studies showing that runners recover faster after downing a glass of choco milk than a carbohydrate loaded sports beverage.

The Cons

As awesome as chocolate milk is, it might not be for everyone. Livestrong also posts anti-milk articles that suggest (strongly) that any dairy consumption might be cramping your style. The best way to know whether milk might be causing muscle or joint pain for you is to keep a food diary. Try two or three weeks dairy-free and record your aches and pains. Then re-introduce dairy and see if there is a difference in the way you feel.

All I know is that chocolate milk makes me feel like a kid again.

What about you, what’s your favorite post-workout drink?

[Photo by Alice Birkin]

Beyond First Aid: The Ultimate Emergency Manual

Here’s an excellent, free downloadable first aid resource designed for ships at sea where there is no doctor present. As expected, it is mostly aimed toward the seafarer, but much of the advice could be used in any type of expedition.

Fishermen are particularly prone to infections of the hands
and fingers because of their working environment and the
things that they are required to handle during their work.
For instance, they may be injured by fish spines and bones, by
broken ends of warps and many other things. Minor cuts and
grazes often go unnoticed at the time of injury. Bacteria are
carried into these wounds from fish slime and guts and also
from pieces of metal etc. Infection then develops with
inflammation of the infected area and the formation of pus.
Prevention is always better than cure and it is
recommended that Chlorhexidine Gluconate 20%
(HIBISCRUB) is used to wash hands and forearms after
handling fish of any kind. The Hibiscrub can be used as a soap
or in solution.

The Ship Captain’s Medical Guide via Lifehacker

Pooping: U R Doing it Wrong

I’ve heard this before – that humans, like bears, were meant to squat in the woods. But finding the proper bathroom posture is danged inconvenient. It means going outdoors with a trail shovel and bundle of “quail tickets” or leaving sneaker prints on the potty seat.

All the other tips featured by this article in Cracked are equally unhandy – or antisocial.

7 Basic Things You Won’t Believe You’re All Doing Wrong via Metafilter

Hold the Phone (Running)

This is just a quickie review of the Adidas Micoach armband for the iPhone 4. This item is generally loathed in reviews but I rather like it compared to a few others I’ve seen or tried.

1. Most people complain that the armband is too small. Yes it’s too small to wear on your bicep. But I find it easier to view on my forearm in any case. The Velcro is extremely grippy.

2. The plastic D-ring is terrible. It recently broke so I replaced it using a beefy plastic ring from an old iPod armband, stitched in place with a sewing awl.

3. The Micoach fabric itself is tough, completely waterproof and encloses the phone entirely. I have no concerns at all about sweat penetration. compare this to the Belkin iPhone 3 case that has open ports for the iPhone speakers. That said, I wouldn’t take the Micoach armband out in a drizzle. The stitching would likely allow water to intrude with constant exposure.

4. The Micoach armband keeps the iPhone 4 snug and secure. I have a Belkin clear GripVue case on my iPhone and it fits perfectly in the Micoach sports band. A thicker iPhone case would no doubt have problems.

5. The Adidas armband covers the light sensor on the iPhone and this makes the display unreadable in broad daylight. I find that if I uncover the sensor and then slide the phone back in the case it resets the sensor and I can view the display easily.

All in all I’d like to find a better sportsband for the iPhone than the Micoach, but it’s a much better armband than the others that are available at your local stores.

Hope Without Soap

Savon de Marseille soap

Could you go for 130 days without soap…washing your body with just water? Richard Nikoley gave up soap and shampoo about six months ago and reports that the results are amazing. His skin and hair are soft and silky. His wife comments that he smells good!

Nikoley’s post begs some questions.

1. What is Soap Anyhow?

Soap is made from processed oils. Originally these oils were animal fat or certain plant oils. Nowadays some soap products are largely chemical based. Soap, Drugs and Rock-n-Roll, featuring Miracle Soap god Michael Bronner, explains the difference.

2. Is Soap Necessary?

For years the advertising industry played on the deepest fears of women, suggesting that the only solution was to douche with Lysol. I believe the recommended procedure these days is to go au natural.

Soap, of course, isn’t really necessary – neither are baths for that matter. It seems that soap is a matter of preference and any number of Spiffy Moms prefer no soap.

3. When Do You Need to Use Soap?

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Via Boing Boing