Osteoporosis and Aging

Climbing the stairs the other day you relalized that your knees were complaining a bit. But you’re only 39; you’re too young to have those old problems like arthritis or osteoarthritis. Are you? Not so, says Jason Theodosakis, M.D., author of The Arthritis Cure. Symptoms of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, are showing up in men and women in their 40s and 50s, and even younger, he says.

Joint health is the heart of our physical movements and you probably never thinks about it but healthy joints control every movement in our bodies. Today, nearly 21 million Americans grapple with osteoarthritis, a condition often marked by debilitating pain, stiffness, and sometimes swelling in or around the joints.

If you suffer or know someone, consider these options for better joint health:

1. Lose Weight

Excess weight, especially in your knees and hips, causes the joint more strain and the cartilage in these areas is more vulnerable to erosion. Carrying excess weight causes more inflammation, which in turn causes pain and stiffness. But research suggests that for every pound you lose, you protect your joints from four to eight pounds of extra pressure. (Check your Body Mass Index by searching for “BMI” at cdc.gov, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website)

2. Joint-friendly foods

Diets high in anti-inflammatory foods can help keep osteoarthritis at a distance and it also helps its symptoms if you already have OA. Dr. Vijay Vad, M.D., author of Arthritis Rx (Gotham Books, 2006), and sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, recommends fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fats from cold-water fish, olive oil, and walnuts. Avoid or eliminate red meat, dairy, polyunsaturated vegetable oils (safflower, sunflower, soy, peanut, and corn), refined grains and sugars (white breads, white flour pastas), and processed foods.

3. Move

Low impact, joint-friendly exercises like biking, walking, and water aerobics are great exercises to get you moving and to help keep your joints healthy and moving easily. Stretching and range of motion exercises like yoga and tai chi are also great for keeping your joints working with you. Tai chi’s slow movements might help restore balance and strengthen muscles without stressing joints. A recent review of 12 studies shows that tai chi can help control OA knee pain. Try low impact exercises 4 to 5 times a day with 1 to 2 days of yoga.  Strength training is also great for you. If you have time try, to incorporate 1 to 2 days of that as well, but remember to listen to your body and to rest and take days off when you feel pain or swelling.

4.  Contrast Hydrotherapy

Soaking your hands or feet in hot water for 3 minutes then submerging them into cold water for 30 seconds can help OA pain and stiffness. Heat increases blood flow to the joint, while cold moves it away, so alternating the temperature creates the equivalent of a pump that nourishes and lubricates the joint.


Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Previous research studies have shown that people who had mild to moderate osteoarthritis and took glucosamine and chondroitin had similar relief to those who took anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Recommended: Glucosamine, 1,500 mg per day; Chondroitin, 1,200 mg per day (improvement should show within three to four months)

Devils Claw
If you would like to go all natural in pain relief, Devil’s Claw may be something to look into. Devil’s Claw is a native plant of Africa, which in limited studies showed that it decreased pain and improved mobility in patients within 10 days of beginning the treatments. Recommended: Depends on the supplement; follow label instructions or consult a knowledgeable homeopath or naturopath.

S-Adenosylmethionine, or SAM-e, is another healthy joint option. SAM-e is produced by the body to help maintain cell membranes and regulate the creation and maintenance of cartilage. SAM-e is also used in Europe to combat liver disease and depression. This multipurpose supplement not only treats pain and inflammation but also shows promise in slowing the progress of disease, says Dr. David Rakel, director of the Integrative Medicine Program at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health. The only drawback is the price tag, roughly between $1 and $3 per day.    Recommended: Buy dark bottles or blister packs of SAM-e because sun light causes it to oxidize.  Take 400 to 800 mg per day

Eat Your Way to Healthy Joints

  • FISH OIL. Best known for its cardiovascular benefits, fish oil’s omega-3 fats can also help lessen inflammation and pain. You may think that fish oil is fish oil but quality is important when taking fish oil. Made from freshly caught fish, when one company is done using the fish for their oil, they pass it down the line for another company to use.  So getting a higher quality oil is the way to go. Nordic Naturals is one of the best on the market. Recommended: 3 g daily
  • ASU. Isolated and purified from two foods, avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU), is thought to reduce joint inflammation, promote the repair of cartilage, and alter abnormal bone growth in OA. Recommended: 300 mg daily.
  • TURMERIC. Sooth inflammation in swollen joints with curcumin, the active ingredient found in tumeric. Recommended: 400 to 600 mg three times a day.
  • GINGER. Harness the anti-inflammatory property of gingerols, found in ginger. Avoid if you take other blood thinners or if it upsets your stomach. Recommended: 500 to 1,000 mg daily.

Reiki Offers Relief to Alzheimer's Patients

By Ilona Udvari | Reiki is a natural, gentle, powerful, yet non-invasive method of healing that is passed from practitioner to client by means of gentle touch. This ancient Japanese healing art originated many thousands of years ago and was brought to this country in the early 1900s by holy man and scientific scholar Mikao Usui. Since that time, Reiki has grown rapidly in popularity as an excellent form of complimentary and alternative medicine.

The results of a recent IARP survey (International Association of Reiki Professionals) of American hospitals indicated that many major hospitals are now using Reiki for its therapeutic benefits both pre- and post-surgery, and for patients suffering from stress and other disorders such as anxiety, sleeplessness, pain, nausea, and fatigue. Reiki has been found to be extremely beneficial in every aspect of healing, not only on a physical level, but also on psychological, emotional, and spiritual levels as well. Utilizing life force energy, the component of which we are all made, it enhances the body’s natural power to heal and maintain itself. Not only can it be used to promote healing of virtually any illness, it has been used to mend bone and tissue and aid with the side effects of anesthesia, radiation treatment, and chemotherapy. It has also been found to reduce the need for medication and shorten hospital stays. Because this diverse energy is such an effective, integrative medical tool, it is being used in many major hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities around the world with great success.

Many nurses, physicians, and outside practitioners have begun to provide Reiki services to enhance patient care. Patients who are emotionally stressed or terminally ill and their families have reported a deep sense of relaxation and inner peace when their care was facilitated with this versatile treatment. Further, Reiki has been extremely beneficial in calming patients with dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Therese Silva Johnson is a certified gerontologist (the study of the phenomenon of aging) who was the owner-operator and administrator of a six-bed, 24-hour care home that specializes in the care of Alzheimer’s (dementia) patients. Johnson notes that initial symptoms begin subtly. An individual may show signs of personality change, memory loss, poor judgment, mood swings, or agitation. Initiative lessens and the ability to learn new things becomes difficult. As the disease progresses, victims develop difficulties with speech and communication, movement and coordination. In the latter stages total confusion and disorientation result in the patient having to rely completely on a caregiver for daily function. The brain continues to degenerate and ultimately results in great difficulty walking, talking, swallowing, controlling bladder and bowel function, etc. As a result, victims can become quite frail and prone to infections such as pneumonia. These conditions of course, are extremely distressful not just for those afflicted, but for caregivers as well.

Johnson began employing short Reiki treatments lasting roughly 10 to 20 minutes. She would administer them as needed, for example at mealtime to facilitate feeding and cooperation with caregivers. She found patients became compliant and relaxed. As she experimented with these treatments she noted that although the disease progressed, her patients did not have to suffer the traditional degree of symptoms of anxiety, agitation, pain, and physical discomfort. Pacing and wandering were drastically reduced. Paranoia began to subside. The mere placing on of hands allowed patients to become completely relaxed, more present, and lucid. Wounds healed in half the time with daily 5-10 minute Reiki treatments. Johnson found that even those patients who normally resisted different kinds of touch (bathing, dressing, grooming, etc.) welcomed and even asked for Reiki. Reiki can even be given as a long distance treatment for those with special needs.

Excited by the successful results Johnson was obtaining, she decided to spread the news of the Reiki technique by developing an Alzheimer’s Reiki research program. She presently is practicing Reiki full-time to develop a concise Reiki therapy plan to be used by Alzheimer’s caregivers. The purpose of this plan is to benefit Alzheimer’s patients and those who care for them by reducing or eliminating deleterious symptoms to extend the integrity of the afflicted. In this way, a higher quality of life is created for both patients and caregivers. With the use of Reiki therapy, Johnson has already enjoyed a great deal of  success in reversing and/or arresting Alzheimer’s disease in a select number of patients. For Alzheimer’s patients, her research is dedicated to fostering the kind of care that will increase independent living and include the return of cognition, mobility, and socialization. Johnson also found that the limitlessness of treating with Reiki can also be useful to individuals who may suffer from similar symptom such as those who are challenged by obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, or mental illness.

Being attuned to give Reiki treatments is a powerful pathway to helping others and maintaining one’s own optimal health. The attunement itself takes only a few minutes, and with a little instruction, the student may begin using Reiki immediately. Whether you are a health care provider or you are just an individual committed to living your own life in a health conscious way, consider being attuned to Reiki. There is no better medicine than one that is preventative, restorative, and natural.

Ilona Udvari is a Master/Teacher in Usui Shiki Ryoho, Seichim ,Karuna Ki, and Firefly Reiki.  She gives treatments and teaches classes (by appointment) at the Firefly Reiki Room, her peaceful, country office located at N4002 Highway 25 between Downsville and Menomonie, WI  Call for appointments at 715-235-7732

Aquatic Therapy: More Than You Would Think

By Angela Hite

Aquatic Therapy & Exercise
As an abundant resource we are surrounded by water, yet many times we overlook some of the most powerful qualities that water offers, such as buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, temperature and comfort. Combined, these qualities create a perfect environment for purposes of aquatic therapy and/or exercise.

What’s the difference?

  • Aquatic therapy is an evidenced based/skilled practice provided by an occupational or physical therapist prescribed by a physician and typically reimbursed by insurance or Medicare.
  • Aquatic exercise is a generic term used to describe activity that takes place in the water generally delivered by an exercise professional and paid for out of pocket.

The buoyancy of water creates a reduction of gravitational forces, making exercise easier in the water than on land. It provides support and eases the stress on weak muscles and limbs thus providing a comfort unmatched by land-based exercises. Buoyancy also creates a resistive nature that leads to gains in strength, range of motion and balance.

Hydrostatic pressure (the natural compression on the body that water provides) exerts a comforting pressure on the overall body while reducing swelling in arms and legs. The improvement in circulation promotes healing to injured areas as well as stabilization of weak joints.

The temperature of the water plays multiple roles. For recreational use, water is generally kept between 84 – 86 degrees. For exercise, rehabilitation and relief of chronic conditions (back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia) water between 88-94 degrees is most advantageous to reduce muscle guarding and pain.

Water greatly improves adherence and success with your exercise regimen. For therapeutic purposes it allows rehabilitation to start sooner – perhaps even pre-surgery and faster recovery.

HEY! National Rehabilitation Week – September 19-25, 2010

Submitted by Angela Hite, Community Relations Director for Transitions Rehabilitation, located at Dove Healthcare – South & West and Wissota Health and Regional Vent Center. Transitions Rehabilitation has a solid history of helping people return home successfully. For more information, visit www.transitionsrehabilitation.com

Healthy Bones, Healthy Joints, Healthy You

More than 8 million women in the US have osteoporosis and more than 22 million more have low bone density, which puts them right on the brink of developing osteoporosis in the very near future. If you combined breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer, a woman would still have a higher chance of getting osteoporosis than all the other three together. The sad fact is that osteoporosis just doesn’t get the attention it should and many don’t even know they have it until they slip and break a wrist or hip one day.

Women start to lose bone mass as early as age 35, so it’s important to start prevention early. “Our bones and joints are living tissue, like the rest of the body,” says Peter Sharkey, M.D., a joint-replacement specialist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital’s Rothman Institute. By nurturing this tissue, you can keep your body’s structure strong.

The Basics: Most women don’t get enough calcium in their everyday diet, so try to keep important calcium rich foods like yogurt and collard greens on your grocery list. Supplementing with a good quality calcium citrate and magnesium pill can help too. “Our production of stomach acid slows as we age; calcium citrate doesn’t require stomach acid to be broken down by the body, unlike other forms of calcium,” says naturopathic doctor Christie Yerby of Optimal Health Resources in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Recommended: 1000 mg per day; 50+ 1200 to 1500mg per day.

Magnesium is also essential to prevent bone loss. This mineral helps the body absorb and regulate calcium levels and, like vitamin D, should be paired with calcium. Otherwise, the calcium could get stored in the tissues, kidneys, or arteries, where it could be harmful. Recommended: About 500 mg daily (roughly a 2:1 calcium-to-magnesium ratio).

Get plenty of D. Vitamin D is essential to helping calcium be absorbed into your bones. Try getting at least 15 minutes of sunlight twice a week to help your body naturally produce this bone strengthening vitamin. Living in Wisconsin it may be harder than thought to get those 15 minutes, so bone up with 1000 IU of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), the most active form, each day. Recommended: 400 to 800 IU per day.

The Basic Facts of Arthritis

A chronic condition involving the breakdown of cartilage in joints, leading to pain and loss of mobility.

  • Symptoms: Pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints, especially in the knees, hips, neck, fingers, and lower back.
  • What causes it: OA can occur from wear and tear on joints with aging, though scientists now suspect that chronic inflammation—due to poor diet, obesity, hormonal changes, stress, or allergies—is another culprit.
  • Who’s at risk: Middle-aged and older adults. More women have OA than men.

An autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own tissues triggering inflammation in the lining of joints. It causes swelling, aching, and throbbing, and possible deformity in advanced stages.

  • Symptoms: Pain in the fingers, hands, and wrists; fatigue, fever, and weakness.
  • What causes it: Exact cause is unknown, but the immune system, gender, genetics, and infection can increase risk.
  • Who’s at risk: Onset is more common in women ages 30 to 50, but it also affects men and children.

Numbers to Strive Towards

How high is your cholesterol? Blood pressure? A few key numbers can help you live a longer, healthier life.

18.5 – 24.9

Body Mass Index | Healthy number: between 18.5 and 24.9. You calculate your BMI by comparing your weight to your height. A BMI that is too low, under 18.5 unless you are a body builder, can lead to some health issues like anemia, bone loss, irregular periods and infertility in women.  However in this day and age most people suffer from the opposite problem of having a BMI that is too high.  For a woman if your BMI is between 25 and 29.9, she is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or higher is defined as obese and increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and many more diseases.  — and that’s a problem we should all worry about.


Blood Sugar | Healthy number: 99 or lower. When you consume sugar, the time it takes for your body to process it indicates whether you are at risk of getting or have diabetes. A 126 means you have diabetes or your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to combat or break down the sugar in your system. With higher numbers you are at risk of kidney disease, vision loss, and heart disease.

Height at age 21

When you have your annual check up, have your height checked. If you lose more than 1.5 inches after your 21st birthday, you are at risk of osteoporosis or bone loss. If you have become shorter, you should get a bone density test and be on alert that your risk is greater and your bones are more fragile. To help, eat calcium-enriched foods, exercise regularly, including weight bearing and strength training, and avoid alcohol and smoking.


Ideal Blood Pressure | Healthy number: 120/80 or lower. The lower, the better. This means the force of the blood against the walls of your arteries isn’t damaging the arteries themselves. Hypertension—the silent killer— leads to stroke, heart disease, damage to kidneys, and loss of vision and memory when your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. So be mindful of your number. Even readings between 120-139 over 80-89 can mean pre-hypertension, which carries its own set of health risks.


Cholesterol | Healthy number: 200 or lower. As this number increases, so does your risk of developing heart disease. To protect yourself, make your target number for overall cholesterol less than 200. There are two kinds of Cholesterol: LDL and HDL. The LDL, or bad cholesterol, should be lower than 100, which will help reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease. If you already have diabetes or are diagnosed with heart disease, your magic number should be 70 or lower.  On the other side of the coin, the HDL, or good cholesterol, should be higher than 50. HDL helps remove the LDL in our arteries, which in turn makes us healthier.


Triglycerides | Healthy number: 150 or less. Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood and elevated levels increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. When measuring these fats, 150-199 is borderline and higher than 200 is high and dangerous.
Studies have shown that high triglyceride levels are more dangerous in women than in men, although the studies didn’t exactly indicate why. So watch your weight, alcohol consumption, and get regular exercise.


Thyroid levels | Healthy number: 4 or less. The thyroid secretes hormones into the body that regulate metabolism, body temp and heart rates. These hormones also affect mental function, muscle strength, and even how healthy our skin and hair are. If your reading is 4.5 or higher, that means your thyroid isn’t doing its job in producing hormones to help your body function efficiently.