Monday, November 22, 2010

DAY 48 - Got Knee Pain? Part II

Most chronic knee pain is a result of a combination of factors. Common factors include, 1) food allergies and food sensitivities that result in inflammation in the joint, or in a reaction in which the body attacks the joint, 2) chronic illness in the digestive tract that may have no other symptoms than joint pain, 3) loss of mobility in the low back which may negatively impact gait, or may alter nerve conduction from the spinal nerves of the low back which control leg muscles that stabilize the knee, 4) insufficient stretching exercise to maintain a full range of motion in the lower extremities, which results in restricted motion, altered gait, and poor nutrient delivery to the joints, and 5) insufficient walking which results in weak supporting muscles and poor nutrient delivery to the joint.

Treatment for chronic knee pain can be divided into two types; cover-up and functional.

Cover-up treatments include medications to mask pain and block inflammation, and limitation of use. These treatments may be appropriate for short-term use, but are disastrous when used long-term. Masking body-protecting pain signals leaves an individual at risk of causing further damage to the involved body part. Anti-inflammatory drugs are known to damage joint structures, injure the lining of the intestinal tract, and cause 10,000 deaths a year in the US. Limiting knee use means walking less. While some limitation of use may be important, we all know, when you don’t use it, you lose it.

Functional treatment begins with assessment of factors that influence the knee specifically, and the body generally, and then focuses on creating changes that would enable the knee (and the body) to heal itself. (It is worth noting that the body is designed to repair itself.)

Functional self-care is most important. Examples are listed below. Keep in mind that chronic health problems are usually caused by multiple factors, and therefore often require several simultaneously combined therapies and lifestyle changes in order to relieve pain and restore function.

In my experience, elimination of foods that commonly cause arthritis provides the greatest relief from knee pain. Some of the foods that commonly cause joint pain are: dairy products, sugars, tomatoes, chiles, corn, meats, and shellfish.

Full-body stretching, such as yoga, with attention to the legs and low back, is remarkable for its ability to improve knee function and reduce pain. Stretching should be done for 30 or more minutes one to two times per day.

Baths with epsom salts are often very effective in the treatment of a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions, including knee pain. I recommend using an entire half-gallon of salts in a warm to hot bath. These magnesium salts can be purchased at drug stores and large grocery stores. They have been used with amazing results for generations.

Essential fatty acids (fish oil and flax oil) taken as nutritional supplements can, in many cases, reduce inflammation and knee pain. Recall that fish oil has been used for generations in the treatment of arthritis. When supplementing with these fats, it is important to also take a fat-soluble antioxidant such as vitamin E to protect these oils from oxidizing (turning rancid) in the body.

Aerobic exercise has proven extremely effective at reducing joint pain. Effects appear to be mediated in part through improvements in circulation, detoxification, and elimination of wastes. In more general terms, balance and wellness in the body is improved by an optimization of turnover/cycling of bodily fluids and gases, and their physiologically active compounds. This occurs with regular exercise.

Significant emotional stress must always be considered as a potential cause of pain, and if present, must be dealt with.

-- coming up ... Parts III, IV and V

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