Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Arthritis 4: What I'm Going to Do

After sorting through the information I have gathered from doctors, tests, and online, I’ve decided on an approach to dealing with the osteoarthritis that I now have. 
  1. I will ease off a little (but not much) on my cardio workout.  I’ve been doing intervals on the cross trainer averaging 138 bpm, almost 90% of maximum heart rate for 33 minutes three times a week.  I’m dropping down to 133 bpm or 85% for 35 minutes.  This probably won’t make much difference in terms of calories burned and my heart will still get a good workout.  Less intensity may mean less oxidative stress which will probably be easier on my hands.
  2. I will be cautious about repetitive motion activities and about gripping anything for an extended period of time.  On the cross trainer, instead of clutching the handles for thirty-plus minutes straight, I will alternate with pumping my arms and not holding on, better for my balance anyhow.
  3. I will start using a higher quality calcium supplement.  I have been buying a calcium caplets from Target, along with a separate vitamin D gel cap, plus vitamin K2 from an online supplier.  I’ve now ordered New Chapter Bone Strength Take Care, which has all three of these, plus other ingredients that are supposed to preserve bone health.  New Chapter supplements are expensive but their products are tested for potency and safety and recommended by some physicians.
  4. I will try hot water soaks, paraffin dips, and the Voltaren gel prescribed by MHO.
  5. I will exercise my hands in order to try to increase range of motion – or at least hold on to what I have now.  In the following picture you can see that my right hand is stiffer than the left.  On the left side I can pull my fingertips all the way back to the base of the fingers.  On the right side I can only get to within about ¼”, especially the index finger, because of swelling and adhesions.

Twice a day I work each hand, pushing against the straight part (phalanx), never the joint itself, moving it forward and down as far as it will go and holding for a few seconds, three areas on each finger, two on each thumb.  For most of the joints there is little or no pain but with my right index finger, especially the middle joint, there is a sore, raw sensation that I recognize from when I used to work on my shoulder.  My hope is to loosen up the adhesions and at least maintain the space I’ve currently got at each of the joints.  It may be months or years before I know whether this will do any good but I’d rather try than do nothing.

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