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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Pain and gain

Yesterday I chose the recumbent bike instead of the treadmill. My left knee did not want to do it. I adjusted the seat as well as I could but there was no avoiding pain in my left knee.

I made it through my 22 minutes, then left. I am looking to see a change in the pain over time. That is, a decrease. Watch this space...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Week 2

I'm into the second week on the Arthritis Rx program. Yesterday, when I did the series A exercises, I noticed my arms were stiffer and I generally felt stiffer all over. Perhaps I was in too much of a hurry and didn't let myself relax. Must breathe more.

Today I will go to the gym to use the treadmill.

I continue to take the supplements faithfully. I am not as good at sticking to the diet perfectly, but I believe I've made improvements. It's all those cravings! Like so many people with "weight issues" I have cravings for exactly what is not good for me.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Today I went to El Chorro Regional Park to walk. I parked in the first parking lot, then walked to the off-leash doggie area, went in to sit down for a while (and watch doggies), and then returned to my car.

I walked on asphalt. The walk hurt my back and my left foot. My foot has a callous on the left side, which was irritated by my shoes. The total time spent on this walk was about 24 minutes, and I'd guess I took it at a pace a little bit faster than I did the treadmill the other day.

I think it's better that I stick with the treadmill or other softer surfaces, to avoid pain.

I don't publish information like this because I like to whine about my aches and pains. It is so I have a record I can look back upon.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The A series

Second time doing the A series. I let myself down on the floor using a pillow. Getting up is still a problem. I can do the exercises. I did them faster today, and I plugged myself into my ipod shuffle, listened to electronic new age stuff.

The last couple of exercises are done standing up, and one of them involves standing on one foot and then the other (there is more to it, of course, than just that). I noticed both today and the day before yesterday that I felt no pain in either leg when I did this one. I suspect the deep breathing has me anesthetized by that time. Excellent. Seems very promising. I am hopeful.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The alternate days

The book recommends easy walking on alternate days - three days a week. It says to start with 16 minutes and add two minutes a week until you reach 30 minutes. If walking isn't possible it suggests aqua exercises, same length of time.

I went to the gym today and did 20 minutes on the treadmill. Although I'd like to jumpstart the program by going right to 30 minutes it occurred to me that I might do myself more of a favor if I follow it more closely. So I took it easy, walking an average of 30-minute miles. I jogged the incline up to 2.5 by the end, not much of an incline.

I have been taking a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement with breakfast and today I added a ginger extract. The book recommends 1500 mg of glucosamine - I am taking about that much of the two together right now. It also recommends 520 mg of ginger extract - I'm taking 500 mg. Because I didn't realize that the supplement does contain animal products (the chondroitin) I will finish it up and then start on the pure veggie glucosamine supplement that I also purchased. One thing at a time.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I just completed the series A exercises. It took me over a half-hour because I was reading the instructions as I went along. I am sure it will take less and less time as I become more familiar.

Breathing is a big part of these exercises. Long, deep yoga-type breaths. I tend to resist this sort of thing, being impatient, but I made myself do it right. Deep breaths just by themselves can reduce pain, which became apparent to me when we got to the last pose, which was done standing.

I think that when I have the sequence memorized I will add my own music to it, too. Could become a really nice part of the day.

Getting on the floor

page from Arthritis Rx
The page on the left is from the Arthritis Rx book (see link at right side of this blog). It's one in the A series of exercises. The exercises are based on yoga and pilates but are modified to prevent damage. Thus the first one, which is normally done standing up, is done lying down. Of course for many of us getting down will be a challenge in itself.

There are several exercises, each done with deep breathing, and few involving repetition. So no mindless "sets", which is a bit of a relief to me. The plan is to do this series three times a week until I am essentially pain-free. The first two weeks are expected to result in increased pain but after that it should subside. I can live with that. I expect after a few weeks that I will have the series memorized.

Today will be the first day.
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Monday, January 22, 2007


One of the three elements of Arthritis Rx (see this post) is the use of supplements. The author has developed his own supplement, combining glucosamine, chondroitin, and ginger extract. No other joint health compounds include the ginger, which has been shown to be a good pain reliever (see this article). I am not buying his supplement because I am a vegetarian and want vegetarian supplements. Fortunately, vegetarian versions of glucosamine and chondroitan do exist, and I found one at Trader Joe's yesterday. TJ's did not have a ginger supplement, however. I am sure I can find one at the more extensively stocked New Frontiers market in town, though.

The above article specifically notes that a ginger product named Zinaxin, produced in Australia, was used in the story - it is formulated from ginger varieties with the greatest anti-inflammatory effects and is enclosed in a capsule that arrives intact in the bloodstream and can be delivered directly to the joints.

Further investigation into the ginger study led me to this site:, a Canadian site that tries to expose quackery. The writers of the articles on Zinaxin are apoplectic over the claims its makers make, based on the above study. Their complaints are two:
  1. Health Canada has not yet studied this supplement and therefore cannot determine if the claims are valid; and
  2. The study was conducted for only six weeks, and it appears to healthwatcher that that is not long enough for a disease like osteoarthritis.
These concerns do not in themselves negate the possible benefits of the supplement. For my part, I'm willing to take a chance. I think a great part of the issue for healthwatcher is that many of these supplements were advertised heavily around the time that Celebrex was getting such bad press, and the ginger supporters were suggesting its use as an alternative. Frankly, it seems like a good idea to me. There are side effects, mainly stomach discomfort, not considered serious. Other than possibly spending too much on the supplement I am having a hard time seeing the downside of giving it a try.

tea and me

In Arthritis Rx (see last post for link) the author lists the "best foods" alphabetically and describes the benefits of each. His knowledge of these foods is far greater than the typical nutritionist's or the typical online analysis. One of the foods he extolls is green tea. His description of the many characteristics of this tea and of the studies that have proven its benefits have made me a believer (not that I wasn't already). I hereby resolve to drink four cups a day, the number that seems to show the best effects.

Arthritis Rx

The book arrived Saturday; I picked it up from the mailbox yesterday. I am about halfway through, in part because it is written simply and in part because much of the earlier material is stuff I already know.

The book is Arthritis Rx: A Cutting-Edge Program for a Pain-Free Life . And it's all it's advertised to be.

The book is for those of us who want to take control of our arthritis directly. It focuses on exercise, diet, and supplements, but also offers advice beyond these basic elements. As I expected, the diet part focuses on anti-inflammatory foods and those rich in Omega-3 and Omega-9 fats:

Good fats:
Fatty cold-water fish
flaxseed and olive oils
avocados, walnuts, macadamia nuts
broccoli, kale, collards, spinach, chard, cabbage, caulifower, kohlrabi

Bad fats: (Omega-6)
red meat
corn, sfflower, sunflower, soy, and peanut oils
fast food
commercial baked goods
deep-fried foods

Good anti-inflammatory foods:
cold-water fish
fruits (apples, oranges, berries, avocados)
whole grains
dark-green leafy veggies
olive oil, flaxseed oil, borage oil, evening primrose oil
soy products
walnuts, butternuts, soy nuts, flaxseed
green tea, oolong tea, water, mineral water
spices (ginger, turmeric)

Pro-inflammatory foods (bad):
red meat, hot dogs, hamburgers, fast food, frozen dinners
chips, packaged snack foods
refined grain products
most commercial, non-organic salad dressings and energy bars
vegetable oils (corn, sunflower, safflower, peanut, coconut, palm)
dairy products (except low-fat)
dry-roasted peanuts, beer nuts
carbonated drinks, juice drinks, soda
refined sugars, sweets

The diet can be explained simply: eat a wide variety of plant foods, incorporating at least five servings of varied fruits and veggies each day. Best choices are those that are rich in color - dark berries, deep green veggies. Beans, of course, make an excellent substitute for meats, and black beans in particular have the most to offer.

I eat a diet very similar to this already, but I have been lax and have slipped way too many refined carbs and not-great fats in, which has resulted in weight gain and not feeling as well as I can. I can make a few changes and feel better about myself and get healthier. Dr. Vad, the author, points out that the diet is really good for everyone, not just those who suffer from arthritis.

The exercises are divided into three groups. The A series are the first to tackle. Do them three times a week, fifteen minutes at a time. When I reach a pain-free state (I can't even imagine this!) then I can move to the B series if I want, and then to C. Many people stick with A and are just fine with that. The B and C series are for those who want to be more active. I hope to make it to B. The following posts will explain the exercise series in greater detail, yet still just summarize them. It's best to buy the book. It isn't that expensive, it answers your questions, and it's easy to read.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Water and pain killers

Two nights ago I took two acetaminaphen pm tablets at night, and awoke feeling less pain. It was easier to get going in the morning than it had been. Was it the pain killers or was it the water I've been gulping? Throughout the day I drank more water and did not take any arthritis pain killers. Last night I went to bed without the pms and this morning awoke again with less pain. It's not a scientific study but I think the water is working.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

More water

I have continued to drink a lot of water. I don't yet sense a difference. I believe I have seen a difference when I take acetaminaphen pm at night, however. When I take it my knees are not in as much pain during the night or when I awake.

The book has not yet arrived. I ordered it through QPB, along with several other books, and unfortunately that company is not so speedy in mailing books out.

Along with drinking more water I am drinking less wine and not eating later in the evening. I am keeping track of what I eat and drink in dietpower (yes, as I said before, I'm a dietpower dealer). What I always notice when I do this is that I eat less and eat more healthily. I also notice that I have more time to do other things because I am not raiding the cupboards or looking for a snack while driving somewhere. This means that, even though I have not yet lost any weight, I am feeling a bit better about myself. All of which goes to show that we don't always choose what's best for us - I have to work at it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Water and blueberries

Yesterday I drank lots of water, again, and had one glass of wine. When I got up this morning it seemed like I wasn't quite as stiff. However, I had also taken acetaminaphen pm last night, so it could be that was the reason.

This morning I had a "blueberry milk". I put one cup of milk in the blender and added one-half cup of frozen blueberries. I blended it well. The consistency was good. It could be sweeter but it tasted fine. The antioxidants, of course, should be good for my body. Help prevent "rust" - oxidation - inside.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

starting fresh

Like so many other people, I am starting the new year with new goals. For me, it's not really because it's a new year. I eschew the making of resolutions. But periodically I start over. It's the only way I can hang in there. I give myself permission to start over again and again and again.

While I wait for my new book (mentioned in the post labeled "facing pain") I am making some small changes. I am drinking more water, logging my food and any exercise in dietpower, and not eating after dinner. I will probably cut back on wine consumption, too, given that I have recently begun to drink two glasses a day. For now, one glass a day. Later I will cut it out altogether except for the occasional treat.

After drinking lots of water yesterday I tried to gauge any difference in my joints when I got up this morning. I didn't really notice. More time is needed.

Shameless plug: If you look into dietpower and think it may be for you (I have used it for years and whenever I do I become healthier), and you decide to buy it, just enter my name - Judith Lautner - in the space where you can put in a dietpower dealer, and you will get $5 off the price. I have been a dealer for a few years but tend not to sell it actively. Considering how good a program I think it is, and how unpushy this company is, I do recommend it.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How it feels

When I wake in the mornings, or in the middle of the night, I have trouble putting my weight on my left leg (the more damaged one). I have to grab something to hold onto as I stand up and when I am standing it hurts. I have to limp to the bathroom. All I want to do is sit down again.

In time I get more flexible and can walk without that much pain. Ever since my "flareup" of a couple of years ago, though, that strange kind of stiffness remains. When I sit on a low, soft seat, I have to help myself up, often lifting myself sideways as I lean on one side of the couch.

If you were to see me when I first get up in the morning you would think I am seriously crippled. That isn't quite true, because later in the day I can often walk without any limp.


One piece of advice I've read about preventing pain is to drink a lot of water. In the past several months I have fallen out of that habit, and before that I didn't directly attribute my lesser pain to the water. Starting today, then, I am drinking lots of water. Ten glasses a day, at least.

Facing pain

Most people use medications to control arthritis pain. The most common type of pain relief medication is the group of drugs called NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), including ibuprofen, aspirin, Celebrex, and a host of others. Unfortunately, all of these drugs have side effects ranging from stomach bleeding to heart effects. I have read that they also weaken the bones over the long term, but I do not have that evidence in front of me. It pays, in any case, to look at treatments that might strengthen the joints and improve health over the long term rather than just kill pain in the short term.

To that end, I have ordered a book on arthritis that promises dietary and exercise changes that can make a dramatic difference in "fifteen minutes a day". I have already read of dietary changes that might be worth looking at: getting rid of foods that cause or increase inflammation, for example. I am hoping that this book, called Arthritis RX, by Vijay Vad, will spell out a clear path for me that I can actually follow for the rest of my life.

What's it all about?

There are so many of us with arthritis, and there certainly are many resources for this degenerative disease. But I have trouble finding the kind of help that I want.

I have severe arthritis (osteo) in my knees and I am starting to feel some form of arthritis in my hands and arms. My knees give me the worst trouble, of course. Several years ago I saw an arthritis specialist to find out if there were exercises or other things I could do that would help me live better with my condition. He told me that the only real solution for me is surgery. Knee surgery is problematic even when one has health insurance, and I don't. I asked him for an estimate of the cost and he said about $50,000 - and that the surgeon's fee would be only a small part of that.

Because I do not have health insurance and am not wealthy I am waiting it out. I might be able to get the surgery when I turn 65 and am on Medicare, but maybe not. In the meantime I need to find a way to deal with life as I am.

Thus this blog. I have done some investigation already and intend to do more. I will post my experiences, as objectively as I can, with various types of treatment. It isn't always possible to separate what is simply a "good day" from a real improvement, so I hope that by recording as much as I can here that I will be able to draw some conclusions down the line. And through this means I hope I can help others as well as myself.