Archive for March, 2009
Monday, March 30th, 2009
I will start out by saying that I live my life on the cheap side of the street. I consider many things that other people cannot seem to live without silly luxuries. For example, I would rather have the peace of mind brought by a little extra cushion in the bank than a designer purse hanging from my arm. I say that to say this, if you suffer from Rheumatoid or Osteoarthritis—massage therapy is not in…any way, shape, fashion or form…a luxury. In fact, I would even venture to say it is one of life’s bare necessities!
Perhaps not every week or even every month, but there are times in every arthritis sufferer’s life when it just plain hurts to be you, this could be triggered by activity level, changes in the weather, worry and stress that lead to greater tensing of your musculature, or just your particular condition; but on those days and times—exercise therapy can literally be a saving grace.
It it makes you feel better about it, think of it as a spoonful of sugared medicine and ask your doctor to prescribe it, or if you are strong willed or truly sensible enough to not play the martyr, think of it as a gift you give yourself to help ease the physical burdens so often imposed on the life of an arthritic sufferer.
True, massage therapy sounds like an expensive luxury that brings up visions of mud baths and spas, however it is actually a broad term that encompasses a wide variety of procedures and methods of pressing, rubbing and manipulating muscles and other soft body tissues such as tendons, ligaments, skin and connective tissues. The main objective of massage therapy is to relax the soft tissues while promoting an increased delivery of blood and oxygen to the areas being massages and, therefore, to decrease tightness and pain. Massage therapy is most often accomplished by utilizing the massage therapist’s fingers, hands, arms, elbows and/or feet. Occasionally, however, mechanical and electronic devices may be also used.
Also I just want to note here that recently I was watching the show Dirty Jobs hosted by Mike Rowe, and one of his dirty jobs was preparing a hot mud bath which he then immersed his entire body in…and I have to say that ever since that show I have been fascinated by the idea of a hot mud bath, and I assure you it has very little to do with Mike’s impressively handsome naked chest :) I really want to try a hot mud bath myself, I imagine it would be better than a hot bubble bath on steroids! Now that might be considered an expensive luxury, but that is something I am willing to risk. Anyway, all jokes and wistful thinking aside. I do have a home model hot paraffin bath that allows me to immerse my hands into heated wax and I cannot recommend this home therapy enough. It makes my arthritic hands feel wonderful, and it makes my mother’s hands and nails, which dry and crack from age feel even more so. (Just make darn sure you use a special heating unit that will not heat the was too hot! Do not just heat the wax in a pot on your stove top.)
Now, back to massage therapy. There are more than eighty official types of massage therapy treatments but some of the most widely known are the following:
* The Deep Tissue Massage. This technique uses a combination of strokes and deep finger pressure applied way down under the skin and into the muscles at the painful sites in order to breakup knots and loosen tightness.
* The Trigger Point Massage. This procedure is also known as the Pressure Point Massage and it is more focused on specific myofascial trigger points with a stronger force than the Deep Tissue Massage. The goal here is to dissolve the painful knots that were formed in the muscles as well as to relieve additional symptoms in more remote areas of the body.
* The Swedish Massage. This system utilizes oblong smooth strokes, kneading and friction of the muscles as well as movement of the joints to increase their range of motion and flexibility.
* The Shiatsu Massage. Using altering rhythmic pressure, tapping, squeezing and rubbing along the meridian and on various other parts of the body, the main objective of this Eastern massage therapy is to enhance the flow of a fundamentally important energy called gi. And this energy, in the ancient Chinese medicine is believed to be the life force that regulates a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental and physical wellness that is easily affected when subjected to the rival forces of yin and yang.
Whether the four most often practiced massage therapies I mentioned above are used as complimentary alternative medicine (also known as CAM) or any one of the other recognized eighty which are available to a lesser or greater extent, there are important points to be considered:
* No massage therapy should ever be used in place of regular or ongoing medical care.
* Massage therapy should not be the cause or the excuse to postpone visiting a medical professional for existing medical issues.
* The massage therapist’s schooling and credentials must be verified as well as his or her experience with specific health and medical conditions.
* Any additional complimentary alternative medicine (CAM) such as herbs, supplements, special diets or other treatments which are suggested by the massage therapist must first be reviewed with a medical professional.
* Although the subject of massage therapy (how it works and why) has been studied for many years and continues to be studies, much of it still remains within the realm of a mystery.
* If and when massage therapy is performed by a well training and experienced professional, few risks are involved and the worst of them may be temporary pain or discomfort, bruising, swelling or an allergic reaction to the massage oils. The small number of serious injuries which have been reported were triggered by untrained hands that were not aware that certain medical conditions should not be massaged. It is, therefore, essential to consult a medical professional before undergoing massage therapy, particularly under the following circumstances:
* Deep vein thrombosis
* A bleeding disorder or when taking blood thinners
* Damaged blood vessels
* Weakened bones from osteoporosis, a recent fracture or cancer
* The presence of high body temperature
* Open or healing wounds, tumors, damaged nerves, an infection, a severe inflammation or fragile skin
* Heart problems
* Dermatomyositis or any other skin disease
* History of physical abuse
So there you have it, sometimes in life we owe it to ourselves to treat ourselves, and one of the most commonsensical luxurious ways for a Rheumatoid or Osteoarthritis sufferer to treat themselves is with an occasional massage. Try it! You’ll thank me and you’ll thank yourself.
Smiles and Good Health,
Teresa Thomas Bohannon
PS Be sure to visit us daily to check out all the latest news and information on living with Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
Do you suffer from unexplained aches and pains? Are you uncertain if they are just a side effect of over exertion , or maybe a harbinger of old age, or a symptom of disease? Then you need to know the three most common causes of aches and pains and your treatment options.
Do you or someone you know suffer from arthritis? It is a common disease, you likely do. What type? Only a doctor can tell, but there are over 100 different types of arthritis. Despite this large number, they typically fall into two categories.
1 – Osteoarthritis
This disease is most commonly found in men and women over the age of 65. It is also known as degenerative arthritis. This name comes from the progression of the disease. It beings with cartilage breakdown. The cartilage covering the bones degenerates and wears away. Essentially, sufferers have exposed bones. These bones then rub against each other, causing severe pain and discomfort. Many also experience difficultly moving.
The most noticeable symptom of osteoarthritis is joint pain. Stiffness is common the morning and after movement. All joints can be impacted by osteoarthritis, but the most common are the hips, feet, back, knees, and fingers. Those with arthritis problems in the hands and feet may find it difficult to walk without a limp and grasp otherwise easy objects.
As with most types of arthritis, there is not just one cause for osteoarthritis. There are many contributing factors. These include body weight, previous injuries, and genes. Although osteoarthritis typically affects the elderly, athletes who repeatedly use the same joints and suffer injury are at an increased risk. As for body weight, the joints and muscle surrounding them carry most of the body’s weight; more weight applies more pressure. Although rare, there are defects that can lead to osteoarthritis. These include a lack of protein that makes up cartilage and the poor fitting of bones and joints.
2 – Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis affects over one million people in the United States. It does not discriminate, as individuals of all ages are susceptible to the disease. In fact, there are three types of rheumatoid arthritis for juveniles alone. The cause? The immune system is supposed to protect our body, but in some cases it does the exact opposite. With rheumatoid arthritis, it attacks the joint lining membrane.
The most noticeable symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is pain. If untreated, other complications can arise. The most common is disability. To prevent this from happening, all patients are urged to exercise their joints and muscles, even though it may be painful at first. Another common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is inflammation. The swelling can be mild to severe. In most instances, this is what separates rheumatoid arthritis from other forms. Swelling and inflammation is likely, but it is much more prominent and debilitating.
Luckily, rheumatoid arthritis suffers rarely experience constant pain. The disease flares up from time to time. These flare ups are trigged by joint overuse and certain foods. As for the cause, it is currently unknown. There are however many theories. One being genes.
3 – Fibromyalgia
Although not always classified as a form of arthritis, fibromyalgia is an arthritis related condition. This disease affects over three million people in the United States. That number is actually higher, but some patients are misdiagnosed.
The most noticeable symptom of fibromyalgia is muscle pain. There are also tender spots in the muscle and body that are more susceptible to pain and pressure. Additional symptoms include headaches, bladder problems, difficulty thinking, fatigue, and sleep difficulty.
While researchers have yet to determine a connection, a good percentage of those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis later develop fibromyalgia. It wasn’t bad enough that your joints hurt, but now the muscles in your body too? Additional causes may be related to prior injuries. Some studies have shown that those with previous injuries are more likely to develop the disease. Many experts believe the change in muscles, due to injury, can later lead to chronic pain and fibromyalgia.
Now that you are familiar with some of the most common types of arthritis, what comes next? If you or someone who you know suffers from arthritis, medical care is important. A proper diagnosis is important to developing the best treatment option. Low impact exercise can loosen the joints and strengthen the surrounding muscles. This not only eliminates joint stiffness, but it can later prevent disability and deformities.
Finally, some pain can be treated, but it will reoccur. Those suffering from arthritis need to learn how to manage their pain. This involves not focusing too much on it, eliminating stress, asking for help, getting a good night sleep, and learning how to calmly relax.
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Monday, March 2nd, 2009
What Me Worry? The MAD Magazine Alfred E. Neuman Philosophy of Life and it’s effect on Osteo or Rheumatoid Arthritis
Both Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis are painful and degenerative and should be treated by a Doctor, but there is at least one home remedy that will help to reduce and relieve pain, and it will not cost you a dime….
Of how many persons can it truthfully be said they never worry? How many are truly perfectly happy, contented, serene? It would be interesting if each of my readers were to recall his acquaintances and friends, think over their condition in this regard, and then report to me the result. What a budget of worried persons I should have to catalog, and alas, I am afraid, how few of the serene would there be named. When John Burroughs wrote his immortal poem, Waiting, he struck a deeper note than he dreamed of, and the reason it made so tremendous an impression upon the English-speaking world was that it was a new note to them. It opened up a vision they had not before contemplated. Let me quote it here in full:
Serene I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, or tide or sea;
I rave no more ‘gainst time or fate,
For lo! my own shall come to me.
I stay my haste, I make delays,
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways,
And what is mine shall know my face.
Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me,
No wind can drive my bark astray,
Nor change the tide of destiny.
What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it has sown,
And garner up its fruit of tears.
The waters know their own and draw
The brook that springs in yonder height,
So flows the good with equal law
Unto the soul of pure delight.
The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high
Can keep my own away from me.
I have been wonderfully struck by the fact that in studying the Upanishads, and other sacred books of the East, there is practically no reference to the kind of worry that is the bane and curse of our modern world. Indeed there is no word in many ancient languages to express our idea of fretful worry. Worry is almost purely a modern product, the outgrowth of progress and materialism, our eager striving after place and position, power and wealth, our determination to be housed, clothed, transported, jeweled and entertained as well as our neighbors… and a little better if possible–i.e. an untempered lust for material goods!
In fact, it comes from our failure to know that life is spiritual not material; that all these outward things are the mere “passing show,” the tinsel, the gee-gaws, the tissue-paper, the flash and dazzle, the mock heroes and heroines of stage and screen, rather than the real settings of the real life of real men and women. Think about it…. What does the inventor, who knows that their invention will help humanity truly care about the newest entertainment craze, or the latest style in clothing or automobiles or high-tech gagetry; what does the woman whose heart and brain are completely engaged in relieving suffering or living a life emotionally secure really care if she is not familiar with or bedazzled in the latest runway fashions? Life is real, life is earnest, and this does not mean unduly solemn and somber–but that it deals with realities rather than the false worlds so glamorously and imaginatively presented in the media and in the doings of iconic celebrities.
That worry is a curse no intelligent observer of life will deny. It has hindered millions from progressing, and never benefited a soul. It occupies the mind with that which is injurious and thus keeps out the things that might benefit and bless. It is an active and real manifestation of the fable of the man who placed the frozen asp
in his bosom. As he warmed it back to life the reptile turned and fatally bit his benefactor. Worry is as a dangerous, injurious book, the reading of which not only takes up the time that might have been spent in reading an instructive missive or participating in an activity of value; but, at the same time, poisons the mind of the reader, corrupts his soul with disturbingly evil images, and sets his feet on the pathway to destruction.
Why is it that creatures endowed with reason distress themselves and everyone around them by worrying? It might seem reasonable for the wild creatures of the wood–animals without reason–to worry as to how they should secure their food, and live safely with wilder animals and men seeking their blood and hunting them;
but the fact that men and women, endued with the power of thought, capable of seeing the why and wherefore of things, should worry, is one of the strange and peculiar evidences that our so-called civilization is not all that it ought to be. The spiritual hermit of the simple home, the desert, forest, or canyon seldom, if ever, worries. He–or she–is far too great a natural philosopher to be engaged in so foolish and unnecessary a business. He has a better practical system of life than has his more sophisticated brethren who worries, for he says: Change what can be changed; bear the unchangeable without a murmur. With this philosophy he braves the wind and the rain, the sand, and the storm, the extremes of heat and cold, the plethora of a good harvest or the famine of a drought. If he complains it is within himself; and if he whines and whimpers no one ever hears him. His face may become a little more stern under the higher pressure; he may tighten his waist belt a hole or two to stifle the complaints of his empty stomach, but his voice loses no note of its cheeriness and his smile none of its sweet serenity.
Once you have experienced pain and suffering of Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis or any other degenerative disease in your everyday life, worrying about trivial things becomes just as hopelessly trivial as the things which you previously worried. Worry is a demon that will only increase your pain and debilitation. Refusing to allow worry to take over your life is one trick of self-medication which you can safely provide for yourself once you have been diagnosed with Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis. Yes, of course, that is easier said that done; but the fact of the matter is…worrying will only make things worse, and a good book, or movie, or some other mentally stimulating entertainment will keep you from concentrating on the pain, and thereby make the pain itself more bearable. You may not be able to wish away your Osteo or Rhematoid Arthritis but you can subject it to a healthy dose of Mind Over Matter. That decision my friend, is all up to you.
Smiles and Good Health,
Teresa Thomas Bohannon
PS Be sure to visit us daily to check out all the latest news and information on living with Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.