Stiff, Sore, and Walking Funny

  • By:  Janet Abel

It’s never too late to change your diet for the better. You’ll feel great in no time!

The movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead is the story of Joe Cross overcoming an autoimmune disease by changing his diet. A friend of mine told me about this film and said it had inspired him to do the same. Their results gave me the confidence to make my own changes, and I hope that through sharing my story, the message will continue to spread.

Arthritis in my knee has caused me pain for many years, and when I went to the doctor the choices offered were cortisone shots, gel shots, or knee replacement surgery. Those treatments addressed the symptoms, but what about the cause?

I’ve been reading about studies that link inflammation to many diseases, attacking joints to cause arthritis, arteries to cause atherosclerosis, neurons to cause Alzheimer’s, and more. One of the major causes of inflammation is the food we eat.

Lists vary from source to source, and different people have different sensitivities, but a few of the major inflammatory foods to avoid are sugar, alcohol, hydrogenated oils, processed foods, and vegetables from the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant).

I feel so much better when I focus on greens and lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. You know it’s kind of funny, all of the fruits and vegetables I am now eating add up to the recommended five servings a day that I knew about that all along. Yet somehow I never got around to eating produce consistently. These friendly fruits and vegetables are little miracle cures just waiting to be helpful. Feel free to pick the ones that appeal to you!

When I went back for my follow-up visit with the physician’s assistant, she agreed with my assessment of the helpful nature of five servings of fruits and vegetables. We also talked about the biomechanics of walking. The muscles that support my knee had become lazy due to unhealthy patterns of movement and were not doing their job. Using a leg like a crutch stresses the joint and other muscles that then need to take up the slack.

Picture the way you walk when you try not to put weight on a sore leg. The knee needs full range of motion, which involves rolling forward off of the toes of the back foot. This requires stepping out confidently with a full stride, so the muscles supporting the knee will become stronger and take their share of the load. There are also specific exercises that can be done to strengthen the weakened areas.

The most helpful and readily available herb to help with pain and inflammation is turmeric. It can be used instead of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and has no side effects. I’ve seen special preparations in capsule form but prefer to buy my turmeric in bulk and consume it as golden cocoa or golden chocolate that I make myself. Just remember that turmeric needs to be combined with pepper to help with absorption.

When I went to the doctor, they were very nice about listening to me, taking and looking at x-rays, but no one actually touched my knee—though the PA did when I mentioned it on the second visit. I believe in the healing power of touch and have had good results from acupuncture, reiki, and massage. Also, never underestimate the benefits of rest, ice and elevation.

I think of surgery as a last resort, and my doctor said, “So do I, and I’m a surgeon!” When we use these complementary and alternative methods to take care of ourselves, along with traditional medical care, it becomes Integrative Medicine, the best of both worlds.

We take the lead by paying attention to what we eat and how it makes us feel and how we move so we can notice any imbalances. When we are in pain, instead of pushing through it, we take the time to treat ourselves with loving-kindness.

The sooner we begin to use these healing practices the better because an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Our self-care helps—no matter what professional medical option we choose.

Janet Abel is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher certified by the Yoga Alliance, a member of the Int’l Assn. of Yoga Therapists and a Mindful Living Consultant. Visit JanetAbel.com.

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