The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1076: Finding New Ways to Ease Joint Pain

Osteoarthritis is a very common problem, affecting up to 30 million people. What are the best ways to ease joint pain?
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Finding New Ways to Ease Joint Pain

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Stiff painful joints can interfere with activities like gardening, cooking, playing tennis, climbing stairs or walking the dog. While we think of osteoarthritis as a condition that primarily affects older people, it turns out that most people with this condition aren’t yet eligible for Medicare. As many as 30 million people may suffer with this condition.

How Can You Ease Joint Pain?

Many people with arthritis take NSAID medication to ease joint pain. Unfortunately, many discover that the relief is elusive and the side effects are all too real. We will discuss pros and cons of the most common drug treatments.

What are the optimal strategies for treating osteoarthritis? Can nondrug approaches like exercise or a diet with anti-inflammatory foods help ease joint pain?

Arthritis doctor Beth Jonas will be in the studio with us to answer your questions about painful joints. Call in your stories and questions: 888-472-3366 between 7 and 8 am EDT on Saturday, April 22, 2017.

This Week’s Guest:

Beth Jonas, MD, is a rheumatologist with the University of North Carolina’s Thurston Arthritis Research Center in Chapel Hill, an Associate Professor of Medicine, and Director of the UNC Rheumatology Fellowship Training program.

Dr. Jonas’ clinical interests are in the evaluation and management of patients with arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and enteropathic arthritis.  She has a strong interest in medical education and educational scholarship, and is highly involved in teaching rheumatology to learners at all level from undergraduate medical students to rheumatology fellows.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

Buy the CD

Download the mp3

Learn More:

You’ll find more information about medications for arthritis and nondrug approaches to easing joint pain in our online resource, Alternatives for Arthritis.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Alternatives for Arthritis

This eGuide describes nondrug alternatives for arthritis with the latest scientific studies to document anti-inflammatory activity. This comprehensive online guide (too long to print) adds the science behind ancient healing traditions.

Alternatives for Arthritis
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We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.

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I wouild appreciate hearing about the use of hyaluronic acid injections for bone on bone knee pain. Or is this considered under arthroscopic procedures?

I was diagnosed with severe arthritis in my left knee. (I’m certain it’s in the other one, too. That one hasn’t been x-rayed.) My problem isn’t aching knees, it’s loose pieces of bone, and who knows what else, in there. I don’t see any advice here for someone in my situation. I can’t believe that tart cherry juice, diet, supplements, etc. are going to help pieces that move in and out of place. If a large piece suddenly moves into position to pinch tissue in my knee, it is IMPOSSIBLE to take a step. Fortunately, the largest piece moved into some other position for the past few years, but if it moves back, I’m sunk. For various reasons, knee replacement isn’t an option for me for the foreseeable future. What do experts say about a situation like mine? Wouldn’t arthroscopic surgery be my best bet?

At 72 and very active, try to play basketball 2-3 times a week and golf 2-3 times a week besides a regular every other day workout at the gym. I have osteoarthritis, use the raisins/gin and certo grape juice but the only thing(tried them all) that will give me pain relief to function is Extra Strength Excedrin.

That’s – 3 – Extra Strength Excedrin

After a couple of steroid injections I asked an alternative meds doc (he has an MD too) for advice on knee pain. He looked at my knee and said it was swollen, which meant inflammation/infection. His advice: take turmeric, starting with double the recommended dose for a couple of weeks. It took awhile, but a few months later my knee pain was gone, and five years later has not returned. Next month I will be 85, by the way. And I still take turmeric.

Listen to the show, the good doctor said she had not seen much evidence of those “crazy elimination diets” helping people reduce their pain. Of course not! The ones who it helped didn’t come back!!

I was waiting for apitherapy to be mentioned. I remember the People’s Pharmacy show on that topic some time ago. Fascinating!

I have had ongoing joint pain and problems for years. Chondroitin originally gave some relief but then seemed to decrease in efficacy. Have been taking green lipped mussel oil with excellent results. For me at least it works better than fish oil and other omega-3 supplements.

I did an elimination diet of several foods for 3 weeks. My joint and muscle pain disappeared, until I re-introduced dairy. What? I never in a million years would have thought dairy was a problem. I took 800 mg of ibuprofen 3x a day for knee pain. My blood pressure went from 120/70 to 188/100! Ended up with a knee replacement due to ‘end stage osteoarthritis’.

As I listen to the show, I wonder about the people saying the pain moves around. I’m in my early 50’s and still very active, but I ache somewhere new most days.

Is there any chance it could be neural, like where the nerve bundles come through the spine getting irritated somehow through the night, in different ways from different sleeping positions. Or perhaps a bloodflow issue from similar means?

I am in my eighties. I’ve had both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis for many years. Aware of the dangers of taking too many Tylenol pills each day I take only two acetaminophen PM tablets and wear arthritis (compression) gloves at night to aid in sleeping.

Using a step machine, I have been exercising every other day for half an hour for five years. This has improved my cartilage-less knees significantly.

I am a recent subscriber of the 140K who receive this news letter. Both of you have a willing attitude to “listen” to your guests on your program. Your web page contains a mountain of helpful health information. On Sunday mornings before going to church I send out a FAMILY NEWSLETTER to 57 families, and I plan on forwarding this issue to them in the next few days. THANK YOU. Paul (78)

This is one of your Greatest Show. Dr. Jonas has more than mastered her subject. Thank you for your sapient questions and sagacity. What do I do for my occasional arthritic joint pain. 1) I do what my wife says. 2) I take contractein (like the cartelage found in sharks). 3) I eat sardines and avoid sugar. 3) I avoid highly processed foods and eat sensibly. 4) I don’t worry about my spelling. 5) I actively learn about being healthy living, including listening to you.

Hi, this is Kenny Davis from Johnston, SC and when I have a pain in my leg or arm, not necessarily a pain in my joints, I dissolve an aspirin on the area and the pain goes away in about 5 minutes. Thank you!

I hear that Emory University (among other med schools) is reporting success with injections of a patient’s own stem cells mixed with their body fat.
I understand that these (very targeted) injections have been used successfully to regenerate tissue between knee and hip joints and (unless it’s bone-on-bone) can avoid the future need of joint replacements
What do you know or think about this procedure?

I have had my own stem cells & blood plasma injected in my hips & knees. This works best for early to mid stage osteoarthritis, I have excellent results. However now there are so many quacks out there using embryonic stem cells – this DOES NOT WORK. Look up Regennex for authentic docs in your area that have proven results.

What about glucosaamine, chondroitin, and msm.

How about using foods to reduce joint pain? A low-oxalate diet works wonders. Forget the so called healthy spinach & those nightshade veggies.

I have osteo arthritis and every year, once or twice a year my right thumb (severely arthritic shown in an xray) swells up and turns red. I cannot use my right thumb at all because of severe pain, or the 2nd day (small improvement) and by the 3rd day its back to normal. It affects my right knee as well and my body during this flare-up feels lousy too. I take no nsaids, just regular aspirin. Ice or heat does not help the thumb. What can I do about this? Thank you.

I hope you at least mention prolotherapy – not popular with surgeons. Another way of preventing knee and ankle deterioration would be vastus medialis and peroneal strengthening especially in women.

This sounds like gout…..please check with your doctor, if it is aspirin can worsen the problem by raising uric acid levels.

I have had the same issue twice.

“Playing tennis” is an “important activity”?!?!

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