ARTHRITIS AND COD-LIVER OIL
Question: I read in the book Arthritis and Common Sense that cod-liver oil can help treat arthritis. Can it really?
Answer: No. The author of that popular book, Dale Alexander, claimed that the basic cause of arthritis is dry joints and that dietary oils, particularly cod-liver oil, relieve arthritis by lubricating the joints. That’s wrong.
There’s never any “oil” in the joints, regardless of what you eat; the lubricating fluid, which resembles blood plasma, is secreted by the tissue lining the joints. Only in the Land of Oz can the joints be oiled.
ARTHRITIS AND HEART ATTACK
Question: To treat my arthritis, I take Trilisate, which my doctor says is in the aspirin family. Since aspirin can help prevent heart attacks, would the drug I’m taking offer some protection as well?
Answer: No. Aspirin is believed to cut the risk of heart attack by making the blood less likely to clot. Trilisate (choline and magnesium salicylates) has no such effect. While other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs—such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin-IB), naproxen (Aleve, ), and oxaprozin (Daypro)—can inhibit clotting somewhat, their blood-thinning effect is far less pronounced than that of aspirin. And only aspirin has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack. (The other drugs, however, have not been adequately studied for that effect.)
BURSITIS OF THE HIP
Question: How common is bursitis of the hip, and what can be done about it? I had my first siege 10 months ago, and although Feldene helped a lot, the bursitis has not disappeared entirely.
Answer: Although bursitis most often affects the shoulder, bursitis of the hip is also quite common. Knees and elbows are also vulnerable. At all those joints, tiny sacs called bursae cover the area where the tendon attaches to the bone. When a bursa becomes inflamed, often because of injury or overuse, the joint aches.
Standard treatment consists of rest and oral anti-inflammatory medication such as naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn). Sometimes
injections of a corticosteroid drug directly into the bursa can be helpful. The inflammation and pain usually pass with time but can recur. In rare instances, surgery may be necessary.
Question: I have calcium deposits on the tendons in my shoulder. My doctor has prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and tells me the deposits can be removed only by surgery. Is there any alternative? I also wonder if taking calcium supplements affects the condition.
Answer: Calcium deposits tend to form around a tendon that has been inflamed for some time. Such deposits have nothing to do with the calcium you ingest, either in food or in supplements.
Anti-inflammatory medications are able to relieve the discomfort, but only temporarily. Graduated exercises, heat or cold treatments, and sometimes corticosteroid injections can also help. Surgery is usually reserved for severe cases, such as a “frozen” shoulder that doesn’t respond to exercise therapy.
Question: I have a habit of cracking my knuckles. Is that really harmful?
Answer: The answer’s still not certain. One study has found that habitual knuckle crackers are more likely to have swollen hands and a weaker grip. The researchers concluded that the habit “results in functional hand impairment.” It’s also possible that such impairment simply results from the loose joints that let people crack knuckles in the first place. To play it safe, heed your mother’s advice and stop cracking your knuckles.
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