arthritis, disc disease

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arthritis, disc disease

Postby steveb1 » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:46 am

For maybe five years now I have had what the X-rays show as "severe arthitis and prominent degenerative disc disease".

Mercifully, these conditions do not bother me when sitting or lying down.

However, they make motion, especially walking, very difficult.

I have always been obese (which of course does not help the arthritis) ... BUT before the onset of these conditions, I could always keep the weight down, or at least slow or stop weight-gain trends by brisk daily walking. Also, I have type-2 diabetes, and of course high blood pressure.

Now, however, my walking is severely curtailed. I force myself to take one long walk daily, to keep from atrophying, and to keep my circulation/heart issues as efficient as possible.

Naturally, all this has resulted in even more weight-gain, which in turn adds to the arthritis/disc disease problems.

The only prescribed meds I take are Naproxen and Acetaminophen with codeine. These permit me to crawl along, with the aid of a cane. I know that if I could just get my old, fast, easy walking back again, the obesity would diminish as a significant problem. However, my doctor says we're already doing everything that can be done, prescription-wise.

So I am open to investigating other forms of care that could be supplemental to the prescribed meds. I was hoping that someone here in Alternative Health might be kind enough to recommend vitamins, herbs, minerals, etc. that might "unstiffen" me so I can walk faster. I realize that I probably will never get my old, fast, walking back ... but any improvement would be welcome.

Gassho,

- Steve -
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby Nemo » Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:57 am

Stop drinking caffeine. Eat a huge bowl of yucky greens ever day. The yuckier the better. Things like Spinach and kale. Drink a lot of water. I found these three things much more effective than celebrex, naproxen etc.

Break the cycle of inflammation. Then start easy exercising. Physio can help. Trigger point dry needling was the most effective for me and I tried dozens of things.

For vitamins try life extension. Pricey but worth it. www.lef.org. They also have great explanations of inflammatory conditions. http://www.lef.org/protocols/immune_con ... tis_01.htm
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby dakini_boi » Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:03 am

Many people have sensitivities to common foods, which then cause inflammation. The symptoms you describe could be the result of this. The most common food sensitivities are: wheat/gluten (probably #1), dairy, sugar, eggs, soy, etc. You may benefit from eliminating these foods from your diet for about 2 weeks. If some of them are causing the symptoms, you will probably get relief within that time period, then you can slowly add things back to see what was causing it. If this is too overwhelming, try removing the biggies - wheat/gluten, dairy, sugar.

I second the suggestion to have more greens, but I don't agree that they must be yucky. Try this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Green-Life-Victor ... 495&sr=8-1

Very inspiring, interesting to read, and useful!

I wish you complete ease, comfort and health in your body. I will send prayers.
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby steveb1 » Thu Apr 26, 2012 6:03 am

Nemo and dakini boi,

Thanks for your kind and informative replies - I'll look into the info you provided :)
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby Nemo » Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:07 pm

I found the necessary serving size for greens was a salad bowl for about 4 people. Daily for about two weeks. It's gets yucky by day 5. As much as I hate to admit it, considering the preponderance of pseudoscience surrounding food allergies, getting rid of agricultural products and eating cave man style was helpful. Once the cycle is broken after a year or two you may even be able to add back the culprits to your diet. Coffee was the worst one for me. How I loved coffee.
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby dakini_boi » Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:47 pm

Nemo,

You might also enjoy and benefit from reading the book I linked above. Very efficient and tasty way to get greens. And some interesting theory. . . much of it anecdotal or speculative rather than scientific, but interesting and helpful.

Pseudoscience or not, many people find that when they cut these foods out of our diets, their symptoms disappear.
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby Jikan » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:38 pm

Nemo wrote:I found the necessary serving size for greens was a salad bowl for about 4 people. Daily for about two weeks. It's gets yucky by day 5. As much as I hate to admit it, considering the preponderance of pseudoscience surrounding food allergies, getting rid of agricultural products and eating cave man style was helpful. Once the cycle is broken after a year or two you may even be able to add back the culprits to your diet. Coffee was the worst one for me. How I loved coffee.


About what proportion of greens to other edibles in a daily diet? A bowl of greens that size would be enough for breakfast for me.

I'm reading this thread with interest as someone with significant chronic arthritis pain & inflammation.
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Apr 26, 2012 6:07 pm

steveb1 wrote: I realize that I probably will never get my old, fast, walking back ... but any improvement would be welcome.
I would reccomend swimming instead of walking. It is a fantastic form of exercise and does not put excessive strain on the joints.

Try a low fat and carbo diet as well to help with the weight. Nemos reccomendation of huge quantities of greens is a good one. Doesn't have to be in one sitting. A large bowl of greens and/or green salad at the beginning of every meal is a good idea. When I want to trim down I replace my night time meal with lots of salad and fresh fruit (pineapple, green apples, kiwi fruit are good choices) and low fat yoghurt or cheese or TVP.

Cutting out dairy products for a while and seeing the effect is also a good idea.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby dakini_boi » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:50 pm

Since greens keeps coming up, I will report some of the info from the book I recommended above (Green for Life, by Victoria Boutenko).

Chimpanzees, who are something like 98% identical to humans biochemically and genetically, eat dark leafy greens as about 45% of their diet. And they are chewing on them all day long. By blending greens (with a little water and some fruit) we can eat WAY more greens in our diet - this tastes very good, and you increase green:fruit ratio over time. Greens need to be chewed up, blended, or cooked to get nutrients - but raw and blended is ideal. The book includes testimonials from a bunch of people who changed nothing about their diet, except they added 1 quart of green smoothie each day, for 30 days. They got really encouraging results with all kinds of health problems.
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby steveb1 » Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:16 am

Again, thanks everyone for sharing your ideas and experiences. Greens seem to top the list along with lowering dairy and swimming or other non-walking kinds of exercise.


Gassho,

Steve

:)
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby Thrasymachus » Fri May 04, 2012 12:00 am

All of your problems seem to come from or are exacerbated from eating too many animal products and processed complex carbs. Being overweight also tends to be more of an emotional issue, than anything else. Most cannot get life satisfaction elsewhere from their human relationships, meaningful work, so they compensate by extreme pleasure seeking gluttony through food. If you watch the documentary Earthlings it will make you emotionally connect that eating animal products is a negative, malicious act, which promotes inflammation, bad LDL cholesterol, obesity, acidity which necessitates your body to leach out calcium. If you switch to a whole foods plant based diet it will help and if you strive, even reverse all your problems. But you should definitely try to make animal foods no more than 10% of your diet.

Greens which someone mentioned before are very good. But you cannot eat many greens, you can consume more of the vital phytonutrients and anti-oxidants by taking several glasses of juice a day if feasible. Or you can buy a product like Gary Null's Green stuff powder, adding a teaspoon of that to 8oz of water is equivalent to juicing your own greens, arguably it is better since it has super food greens like Spirulina, wheat grass and barely grass. There is a documentary called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead about a man who is 100 pounds over weight, has a litany of health problems and a rare autoimmune disease ruining his life. He reversed them all by doing nothing other than abandoning his animal product and processed food diet to go on an extended green juice fast. Most people would call that extreme and would rather live with their comfort foods and the resultant diseases, but it is more extreme to putter along poorly only thanks to medications. You have to be serious and sacrifice(comfort foods only, realistically, but to most people it is life) if you want to reverse decades of poor lifestyle and diet.
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby ronnewmexico » Fri May 04, 2012 7:56 pm

All of these suggestion seem good and I would not contradict any of them.

My advice to add to those excellent suggestions.....meditation.
Calm mind meditation successfully endeavored to my personal experience and attested to by varying sources found in buddhist literature(I could produce them but it would be quite tedious to do so)......most effectively produces ease of motion in the human body. It makes a body more supple.

By calm mind, not to deny anyones opinion on what constitutes calm mind....but in this context this is what I mean....sitting or even doing with no internal dialogue. Not focusing on a object or averting from a object of thought but simply abiding the natural flow of energy present in the mind when not tethered to this thing of word. Colors sensations sounds images from the past and varying other things may present in such a state endeavored. Stay with them but do not follow or try to shape them or stamp them out but just stay witness to them.

In the beginning just sitting. Eventually this may be performed with activity. Walking things of this sort are especially conducive to this meditation.
So mainly that is what I suggest. Check with your spiritual teacher first to see if this is acceptable for your practice.

Secondarily inclined perhaps to pills and those type of things...check with your medical doc first but I offer tart cherry....drinking much of the juice is preferable but pills may be found, and perhaps SME, which at lower dosages seems to have beneficial effects on joints. SME is however contraindicated in the presence of certain psychological conditions as at high dosages it has psychological effects. Its interactions with other drugs may be negative so again, check first with your doc.
Easiest and best perhaps would be tart cherry juice exchanged with what juice or soda one may normally drink. Tumeric if your stomach can handle it may also be helpful for pain. As can be bowellian but again check with your doc. Some I have heard have found assistance with curry powder in food, if that is ones preference.

As a perhaps related issue, protein normally is associated with a acidic internal environment which may compromise joints adversely. HOwever if one has very low consumption of protein a recent study published in the AMA journal suggests our bodies may actually rob protein from muscle, leading to a lowered muscle mass over time. Lowered muscle mass can have a real negative effect upon movement and since muscle in part and parcel of protection and efficiency of joint movement could very well exasperate such a issue.

So to much protein in a diet for one such as you is inadvisable, to little may be inadvisable as well.
Recommended norms for protein consumption could be easily found on the internet. Find the stated ranges and find a consensus estimate based upon your weight.

Swimming is great if you can find a place and have the time to shower and all the rest.
If not perhaps with the meditative component you may still walk.

So that is my advice to add to those excellent ones offered. Keep in mind this is free advice from just some bojo on the internet and thusly may be worth exactly what you are paying for it....absolutely nothing.
But it is offered in compassion and not without thought and foundation regardless of how it is offered.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby ronnewmexico » Fri May 04, 2012 10:12 pm

To be clear..SME I reference taking(only after checking with your doc) is S-Adenosyl-L Methionine, or SAMe available in vegetarian form at health food stores or on the internet.

It assists joints.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby steveb1 » Wed May 09, 2012 5:36 am

Thanks again for everyone who has contributed their suggestions and solutions. All your concern and willingness to help is much appreciated :)
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby LunaRoja » Wed May 09, 2012 10:36 pm

Hi Steve,

I have severe Rheumatoid Arthritis and I have found great benefit in the supplement Boswellia and also fish oil. I don't recommend the fish oil capsules since you have to take a lot to reach a dose that helps with inflammation. You can get concentrated fish oil in most good health food stores. I get concentrated fish oil from cold water fish that is free of toxins It comes in different flavors if you don't like the fish flavor. There is actually a lot of science behind it since it inhibits the production of the prostaglandins that contribute to inflammation. Eskimos who tend to be large people have very low rates of arthritis and heart disease and have diets very high in cold water fish. It is definately worth a try and if you have type 2 diabetes it will also help with your lipid panel (increasing good and lowering bad cholesterol) There is lots of info on boswellia if you google it.

Best of all good luck. My prayers are with you. I know what it feels like to suffer with arthritis and joint pain.
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby steveb1 » Sun May 13, 2012 9:00 am

LunaRoja, thank you so much for your compassionate and helpful reply. I will Google the info you suggested. Sorry for my late reply, but still - my heartfelt thanks :)
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:32 am

Hi Steve,

have you tried Tibetan medicine yet? I'm suffering of beginning arthritis and when I take two pills of Padma 28 a day my joint pain entirely disappears. I guess that's due to the anti-inflammatory effect of Padma 28. I have no idea which country you're from and if you can buy Padma 28, but if you have a chance you should try it. Maybe also try consulting a Tibetan physician.

Bye,

R'n'R
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Wed Jul 04, 2012 3:05 pm

P.S. two Padma28 a day is a relatively low dosage, normally the dosage is 3*2 a day.
"Forget about being clever, and simply remain." Guru Rinpoche, Treasures from Juniper Ridge
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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby tahti » Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:09 pm

I felt like I had written many parts of you post myself. My spine began to feel much better when I went vegan and took 8 precepts. I did lose a bunch of weight (40lbs), but I don't think it had THAT much effect on my back; it was, as so many have said, dark green things -- collard, mustard greens, kale, spinach etc., and getting away from pasta, white rice etc. Also, I AM NOT A DOCTOR, just a very simple anagarika, but the opiates are not one's friend -- they damage one's practice, kill one's mindfulness, wipe one's memory. This is only me speaking about myself, not giving advice: I took the drugs for a while for my back; but now, I sit on the heating pad (for hours if need be). When the pain is too great to focus on Samadhi, I practice simple meditations about the pain actually being the pain of others, which I am removing from them; and also, the pain as an exhausting of negative Karma. The truth, for me, is the stopping of the opiates has been the most illuminating thing that has happened to me.

I feel for you; as I said so much of what you wrote sounded like me several years ago. I will be quite mindful all day of the plight of the meditator and his or her spine. Feel free to write me.

tahti

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Re: arthritis, disc disease

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:25 pm

Well as a fellow sufferer of chronic pain I feel ya...here's my perspective..also as a practitioner in "alternative health":

By a certain age (varies in different people obviously) everyone has disc degeneration.

When you go and get imaging like Xrays or MRI's, most doctors will correlate your symptoms with whatever they see on the imaging, whether they have any substantial reason to or not. Predictably, almost everyone has some disc degeneration after a certain age - however, plenty have no symptoms while others do. It is catch all answer to what causes back pain that is not necessarily reflective of reality. In addition, some are good at reading MRI's while others just look at them and kind of guess lol.

Not saying disc degeneration isn't the cause of your pain, just that the way modern medicine works excludes a number of other factors that could cause or contribute your discomfort - look at the success rates for back surgeries such as spinal fusions some time and you will see what I mean, clearly there are some issues with the standard explanations for causality of back pain. There are also 70 year olds that get up every morning with far worse "disc degeneration" than anyone we know and do things like farming, so clearly the perspectives given by modern medicine on pain and it's causes are limited in scope.

In my case joint mobility exercise, an anti inflammatory diet, calcium supplements, and deep tissue massage when needed keep pain manageable, don't assume it means anything that you have "disc disease", as so does everyone over the age of 30 or so..and that's a modest estimate. One of the bad things about the reliance on imaging for diagnoses is that unless you go to some sort of "alternative" practitioner, there are a ton of likely causes for pain. that won't even get investigated - as an example, palpation (which means a whole lot in terms of getting to the bottom of muscle pain and dysfunction) is largely a lost art to much modern medicine.

I would consider diet as a place to start, I had such bad pain in my shoulder that some days I could barely move it, I thought it would never go away, two months of elimination dieting and some exercise and it's like it never happened - don't make any assumptions about your pain, including contemplation of it in insight meditation is helpful for me, as it shows you your pain is a compound phenomena, rather than a simple sensation, and it shows that it is impermanent.

For joint stuff I also take turmeric in various forms, and as mentioned - a ton of greens and h20. The less sugar and caffeine I have the less pain I am in generally speaking.

As far as the pain though, I know it's not easy to hear (i've been there myself), but weight loss will help tremendously with back pain, IIRC most people have lumbar spinal disc degeneration in common areas - l4 & l5 being a common one. Frankly, a bunch of weight around the stomach HAS to contribute to the load being put on your spine. So don't worry about the discs "degenerating", just think about daily health - do you move the area as much as you should, is there extra weight there etc. If you want a simple exercise regimen, the basic sadhanas of Kundalini yoga involve spinal movement :http://www.3ho.org/kundalini-yoga/kundalini-yoga-yb/kriyas-meditations/featured-meditations/pdfs/BasicSpinal.pdf

I have used this basic series to recover and strengthen my spine many times. I do some version of this daily and keeping up practice of it is the difference between spasm, pain, and lack of mobility, or feeling something near "normal".

BTW if this helps, when I get xrays my spine is so messed up (birth defect) that most doctors can't even talk about it, I have to go specialists - so again, what the doctors see on the imaging is not necessarily a reflection of what you need to do, and it definitely isn't an accurate way to gauge how you should approach your pain - all IMO of course.
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