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Pain Management/Do you think I have arthritis?

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Hi Tatiana
I know you are not a doctor and dont diagnose, but I thought if I gave you some details about my symptoms you mught have a few thoughts.
I am 56. I was pretty much pain free until my mid forties. Thats when I noticed it took me a couple of days to recover from playing hockey. My whole body was sore, but knees and hands and lower back were the worst.
About five years ago I tore the meniscus in my left knee. I got arthroscopic surgery, and the surgeon said he saw arthritis there "the size of a toonie" (large coin). I expect the other knee and joints may also be affected.
Three years ago I took a job as a bus driver. I do a lot of stretching, light weight lifting, and cardio to keep in shape, because a lot of bus drivers, as you know, have to take time off for repetitive strain injuries, especially the shoulders and back. I have been lucky, but I find that I will often wake up in the middle of the night from the pain in my hands (from gripping the steering wheel). This usually goes away. I am also finding that I need to spend Saturday just lying on the couch, to 'recover' from the week. On Sunday I am OK to do yard work, etc.
I am also just now finding that even after a rest day, I get sore all over after spending a few hours in the yard, and even after a round of golf I need to take anti-inflammatories. I can do 9 holes, that it. By the way, Tylenol for arthritis pain works the best.
One last thing, my mother had rheumatoid arthritis that started in her late fifties, and could not use her hands very well. What do you think? Thanks for your thoughts and have a great summer!

Answer
Hi Bud,

I think that you might have fibromyalgia, which of course doesn't exclude arthritis. I know it's rare in men but still, 10% of them do have clinically confirmed fibromyalgia. It means that you also may have higher levels of the Substance P (pain mediator) and lower levels of serotonin  (mood chemical and pain soother) in the brain. This condition is often triggered  by trauma and  stress and is long lasting and difficult to manage. Long period of sitting tremendously aggravates the condition (as I wrote before).

I also have fibromyalgia myself (after a bad virus infection) and can share my experience in coping. First of all, although fibromyalgia is not recognized as inflammatory disease, almost every pain killer is also have anti inflammatory effects. But there are anti-inflammatory substances that more gentle on the guts and stomach and can be taken daily. The strongest is curcumin found in curcuma or turmeric or as a supplement they are - different kinds of the same substance. The tricky part is low bioavailability, but if you take it with a teaspoonful of olive oil sprinkled with black pepper, it'll do the trick. Even people suffering from advanced deforming osteoarthritis are happy with it.

And again, I repeat my previous advice to try mechanical tactile stimulation, search for the device at Amazon.com - since there are so many merchants selling this product, you can find good deals there. It's also good for your sleep and good sleep increases serotonin levels, which fight with substance P thus reducing pain perception.

I also find that regular Tai Chi exercises, just 15 min a day, help a lot. I personally like the Silk Reeli.ng style and you can find free videos on Youtube. For example, find 9 exercises, total 30 minutes starting here.  I do either total nine (if I just walk for an hour this day) or, if I swim or do weights, I do #1-4 one day and #5-9 next day. BTW, swimming is considered ideal exercise for fibromyalgia.

I hope it helps,

Tanya Zilberter

Pain Management

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Tatiana Zilberter

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I'll do my best to answer any question, which can ease your pain. My stronger topics are:
- General pain mechanisms: explanatory answers
- Pain neuroscience you can use
- Pain management without drugs
- Alternative/holistic techniques
- Pain education for self help

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