First Quarter: DIAGNOSIS

Q What is osteoarthritis?

A Osteoarthtitis is the common degenerative joint pain and swelling that is thought to be inevitable if your parents had it and if you live long enough.

Q Is every joint pain osteoarthritis?

A No, there are many reasons for joint pain:

Sprains usually involve joints and cause joint pains that are not arthritis.

Tendonitis often cause pains near joints or in connection with joints but are not arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is the feared type of arthritis that is often crippling and deforming. Osteoarthritis is not deforming - at least in the early stages.

The most important thing to know about a joint pain is that it is not an infected joint. By infection, we are talking about a bacterial infection.

Q Why is it so important to know that the joint is not infected?

A A joint that is infected with a bacteria will be destroyed in a short time without prompt and proper treatment. That is why it is so important to make a correct diagnosis.

Q What would make a person think that the joint may be infected?

A An infected joint looks just like gout. The joint is hot and swollen and very painful. Pain, heat, and swelling are the three cardinal signs of infection. So any joint that is swollen, hot and painful should be seen by your doctor ASAP.

Q How will the doctor make the diagnosis of an infected joint?

A Needle aspiration is the best way to make the diagnosis. Get a little of the fluid from the joint and look at it. If it is cloudy or looks like pus, the joint is infected. If the fluid contains crystals that look like uric acid crystals, then it is gout and not an infection.

Q What is the treatment for a bacterial infection in a joint?

A Antibiotics if it is early enough. Usually or often the joint must be opened so it can drain or be washed out frequently in addition to antibiotic treatment. Hospitalization is indicated for a joint infection. A bacterial joint infection is a medical emergency and prompt action must be taken to save the joint.

Q How frequently might joint pains be due to a bacterial infection?

A Very infrequently. An infected joint is rare compared to the frequency of osteoarthritis.

Q How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?

A It is usually diagnosed by xray in additional to the signs and symptoms of arthritis. The diagnosis of osteoarthritis is not difficult because of the xray changes and its clinical picture.

SECOND QUARTER: Symptomatic Treatment

Q What can I do to make an joint feel better that has osteoarthritis?

A There are short-term and long-term things that can be done.

Q What do you mean by "short term" and "long term"?

A By "Short term" I mean things that can be done to make it feel better right now - but will not likely keep the joint feeling better down the road, like several hours or tomorrow or the next day.

Q So of what value are short-term treatments if they do not last?

A Anyone who has hurt bad enough will tell you the value of feeling better - if only for a few hours.

Q That makes sense - OK what are some short term natural remedies for osteoarthritis?

A Many of the natural remedies for joint pain are known and used almost intuitively. Local heat or cold will make a painful joint feel better. What is not always known is that to use both alternating will give more pain relief than either by itself.

I was in Denver Colorado once and had a sudden onset of severe ankle pain. I don't know to this day what caused it. It was so severe that I could do nothing but deal with it right then. I was in a hotel. So I went to the bathtub and let alternating hot and cold water run on my ankle for about 10 or 15 minutes.

Q Did that help any?

A My own diagnosis is that it was an acute viral infection. Whatever it was, the 10 - 15 minutes of hot as hot as I could take it and cold as cold as it came off the mountains of Colorado - the pain was gone as suddenly as it came. It was gone completely with that one treatment.

Q So alternate hot and cold water soaks or baths will take away the joint pain of osteoarthritis temporarily. Will that work for a backache or a neck ache?

A Yes, it takes a shower to get the back under alternating hot and cold water or a neck. But a hand, elbow, knee - whatever the painful joint - get alternating hot and cold onto it and it will feel better.

Q Is there a recommended time for the hot and the cold?

A Three minutes hot and half minute or one minute cold is the best for contrast baths. In a shower a person may not be able to stand cold for 30 seconds - so just as long as you are able to up to a minute - for cold and about three minutes for hot is the best time period.

Q Is it best to end with the hot or the cold?

A It is best to end with the cold for two reasons. Ending with cold closes the pores in the skin and protects the body from catching cold by constricting the blood vessels just under the skin. So for those two reasons it is best to end with cold.

Q Does hot and cold contrast baths do anything else other than making the joint feel better?

A Yes, natural remedies work on several different levels. Not only does alternate hot and cold make the joint feel a lot better, but it also stimulates the immune system.

Q What is the benefit of stimulating the immune system?

A The immune system is the body defense system against disease. When the immune system is stimulated whatever the problem is, the body is put in a better condition to deal with the problem when the immune system is stimulated. So anything that stimulates the body's defenses is a great benefit to the body. That is why the natural remedies are so powerful. They work on several levels - all doing the body good.

Q Are there any other short-term natural remedies beyond alternate hot and cold that will take the pain away from a painful joint?

A Temperature manipulations are the fastest methods of decreasing pain in a painful joint. Another powerful natural treatment is the use of charcoal.

Q How can charcoal be used to decrease joint pain short term?

A Charcoal is used in emergency departments as a universal poison antidote. It is the most powerful poison antidote known to man.

Q What does a poison antidote have to do with getting rid of joint pain?

A It has a great deal to do with pain. Everything in the body works by a method. Acute pain works by chemicals stimulating the nerve endings in the joint. The universal antidote neutralizes the pain chemicals and acute pain can't function without the pain chemicals. So when charcoal neutralizes the pain chemicals - the pain goes away as the pain chemicals are neutralized.

Q That sounds great! How do I use the charcoal to neutralize the pain chemicals?

A The charcoal must be moist and in contact with the skin of the painful joint.

Q Where do I get the charcoal and how do I use it to be moist and in contact with the skin of the joint?

A We have a handout that describes making a charcoal poultice. Charcoal can be obtained from some pharmacies. The form to buy charcoal in is the powder form. Medical grade activated charcoal is the best form to buy because that can be used externally and internally. We buy our charcoal from Uchee Pines 1 800 542 5695. You can order from us as well 1 888 841 4987.

Q If I don't have a chance to phone for the charcoal poultice handout - is it easy to make, could you just tell us how to make a charcoal poultice?

A Start with some flax seed from a health food store. You need a coffee grinder or a small seed whizer or coffee grinder. Whiz up about 4 tablespoons full of flax seed ( cup - keep in fridge).

Q What does the flax seed have to do with the charcoal?

A Nothing directly. However, if you have ever used charcoal - activated charcoal - which means finely divided - very fine power - it is almost non wettable. To try to mix water with activated charcoal is a pain. To ease that pain is where the flax seed comes in. The flax seed ground up and mixed with the charcoal does two things. It makes it a whole lot easier to mix with water and then once it is mixed it gives it some body so you can work with it a whole lot easier. It is a binder. The flax seed holds the charcoal together like oatmeal.

Q Ok so you grind up flax seed - a table spoon full and then what do you do?

A First of all mix the flax seed with twice the amount of charcoal or a bit more and mix that well before adding water - little by little and keep mixing and stirring until you have a paste. You want a thicker paste. If the mixture is too thin it will work well but is messy and difficult to keep confined.

Q Why do you want the paste to be thick?

A Because the thinner it is the more difficult it is to use. Charcoal is messy and black!

Q What do you do with the thick paste?

A Put it onto a piece of cloth and cover with saran wrap or plastic. It works best to put the tape onto the cloth or material you are going to use before putting the charcoal onto it. A "chux" used for incontinence works ideally for this purpose. A chux bought in a drug store is perfect material because it is plastic on one side and soft absorbent material on the other side. Cut the size you want with a margin and put your charcoal flax seed paste on the soft absorbent side. Put the tape to keep it in place on the plastic side. Put the paste against the skin and tape the poultice in place over the joint that is sort and leave it on overnight or leave it on for 24 hours. The poultice can be covered with saran wrap and bandaged or taped in place. An ace bandage on the top can help hold it in place.

Q What would happen if I left it on for a week?

A It would start to smell as the flax seed began to disintegrate!

Q Why?

A It is the flax seed that would support bacterial growth or fungus that would go bad. So don't use it for more than 24 hours and throw it away and make another fresh poultice.

THIRD QUARTER: Long-term treatments of Osteoarthritis.

Q Are there any long-term treatments of osteoarthritis?

A Yes there are. The basic problem with osteoarthritis; the basic cause of non-traumatic osteoarthritis is a lack of blood flow.

Q What do you mean - "non-traumatic"?

A Trauma - a broken bone that affects the joint surface causing an irregularity in the joint causes what is called traumatic osteoarthritis. If there has been no trauma - no joint irregularity - and still arthritis develops, that is known as non-traumatic arthritis. This is caused be lack of adequate blood flow.

Q So how can you increase the blood flow to a joint on a long term?

A Three ways: 1) Exercise 2) High fiber diet 3) Drinking lots of water.

FOURTH QUARTER: Role of Vitamins, glucosamine sulphate, etc.

Discuss these things! If we have any time left!