Angry Joints Make Me See R.E.D.!
There are few things more unpleasant than dealing with inflammatory conditions. These might affect skin, muscles, joints and connective tissue throughout your body. Many conditions end in “-itis,” which just means inflammation … such as arthritis or bursitis, just to name a few.
It can be a rough feeling when you don’t get the night’s sleep you intended, and you wake knowing that you’re starting the day with your neck, back or nagging knee getting your “attention” before you even get moving. There are ways to get these problem areas under control.
My memory tool that I share with my clients is as follows:
R – REDUCE activity that keeps tissues in overload.
E – ELIMINATE factors that promote inflammation.
D – DECREASE tissue temperature, pressure and swelling.
When your Aunt Sally is miserable from her bad knee or your father’s bursitis is causing him to limp terribly, it’s a disabling feeling not to be able to help them feel better. Sometimes localized injections and a visit to the doctor is enough to get sufficient relief. There are other times when this helps briefly, then the condition worsens or fails to improve; this is the time to crack down and try to get things under control.
When in doubt, we try to get our clients to see the bigger picture. There may be things we do every day that contribute to these inflammatory conditions being out of control. You see, inflammation is just a normal part of our healing processes that go on every day. It is necessary to let the body do its job to help to heal due to everyday wear and tear from normal activity. But, when it is out of control is when it gets our attention in a very specific way, and it may feel like swelling, burning, heaviness, soreness, and frequently is expressed as pain. As a physical therapist, I often question my clients about activity patterns for home, work and leisure to help them identify how they might decrease “overuse” patterns and get back to being kind to their body while it attempts to heal. Another thing I consider is what type of treatments such as cold, therapeutic massage, dry needling and specific electrotherapy might help speed up the process, so we don’t have to rely on medicines to control pain or inflammation longer than necessary.
Should we consider what we are drinking, eating and what we are exposed to throughout our day? Yes, there are specific triggers that promote inflammation in the foods we consume and the environment we are surrounded by at work, home and in the outdoors. When we work to reduce these “triggers” that increase our body’s natural inflammatory response, it helps decrease the tendency of inflammation getting the upper hand. A dietitian should review this with you and help to identify triggering foods and supplements as well as provide more suitable and palatable alternatives in your diet that can be enjoyed without fear of causing more problems. Allergists are another good alternative if you find that skin conditions or seasonal allergies are getting the best of you.
If you are struggling to manage one or more conditions that have inflammation as a symptom, I urge you to discuss it with your doctor, rheumatologist or physical therapist. Do a good inventory of the things that tend to make it worse, those that make it better, and look closely at the behavioral, work, home and dietary contributions to your condition.
I can’t wait to hear about your success story, be a motivating influence on your friends and family. There are millions of people out there struggling with these conditions just like you every day, whether from newer injuries or older more chronic conditions. Stop seeing what you can’t do, and start seeing RED!
Dr. Gregory Redmond is the owner of Eberhardt Physical Therapy, Nutrition and Wellness Clinic. He is a retired USAF veteran with nearly 20 years of experience as a physical therapist and is also a specialist in wound care and balance disorders. He and his wife and co-owner, Shelly Redmond, a registered dietitian, bring their unique approach to rehabilitation with integrated wellness, nutrition, weight loss, physical and occupational therapy.