Aging Well

As you may know, I will soon be having a total hip replacement.  When I mention this to those who know me, I get this incredulous look and the inevitable question, “You?”  “How did this happen?”

It’s a great question.  I wish I knew the answer.

But the question has led me down a rabbit hole of trying to understand it myself.  I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned.

First we should identify the condition that leads to many joint replacements – Osteoarthritis.  This should not be confused with Osteoporosis.

Many people get the two mixed up because they both start with “Osteo”.

Osteoporosis is, as the name sounds, a condition where the bones become more porous and prone to fracture.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common of over a hundred forms of arthritis.  It is also called Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD).  While DJD can occur at any age, it is more common after the age of 40 and more likely to affect women than men.

DJD occurs when the smooth silky cartilage (articulating cartilage) covering the bones that create a joint becomes rough.   When this happens, the bones that make up the joint don’t glide across one another easily. 

Instead, there is friction.  This friction causes more cartilage damage, creating bone spurs, cysts and deformation of the bone.  The cycle continues until eventually the cartilage is worn away.  When this happens, the joint becomes “bone-on-bone”.  If you have experienced “bone-on-bone’, you know it can be quite painful.

Overtime, joints may stiffen, become more painful and cause limited range of motion.  Along with that, the muscles that support the joint tend to weaken and destabilize the joint even further.

There is no cure for osteoarthritis.

Now back to the original question:  How does this happen?

Truthfully, no one really knows.  The general school of thought is that the joint simply wears away due to repeated stress or trauma or from an injury.

However, there are millions of people who are runners, athletes or physical laborers, live out their lives without significant osteoarthritis pain.

There is some evidence that DJD may be genetic.  In these instances we would see DJD from generation to generation or among siblings.  It has been observed in identical twins that if one develops DJD, the other has a higher risk for developing the disease.  However, this does not translate to fraternal twins.

Unfortunately, while genetics can account for some DJD cases, it doesn’t account for the millions of people who suffer with DJD.

There is also a theory that emotional trauma can lead to joint inflammation, over time resulting in DJD.

BLACK BOX WARNING

I know this is going to sound like a crazy conspiracy theory, but I am including it here for your information and well-being.

This warning is about a class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones.  These antibiotics include: Cipro, Cipro XR, Proquin XR, Lavaquin, Floxin, Noroxin Avelox , Factive and their corresponding generics.

The FDA has issued a “Black Box Warning” on these drugs because it is well documented that patients taking this class of antibiotics are likely to experience tendonitis, tendon rupture, random pain in various parts of the body, neuropathy, muscle twitches, vision damage, cardiovascular damage and cartilage damage. Oh and guess what?  

Over time people who have taken fluroquinolones may be more likely to experience osteoarthritis.

Stay with me here, especially the women who are reading this.  As we move into our 40’s and 50’s, our hormones begin to change.  Along with those hormone changes, women over 40 tend to experience more urinary tract infections (UTI).  Cipro is one of the commonly prescribed drugs for UTI.

If you have experienced any of the conditions listed above, think back.  Have you ever been prescribed a flouroquinolone?  Because of the nature or the fluoride in these drugs, the effects of taking them can be permanent.

If you have not taken any of these antibiotics, be informed.  Do not accept a prescription for this class of drugs.  Ask for an alternative whenever possible. 

 All that being said, with regard to osteoarthritis/DJD, here are some lifestyle choices that can help prevent the onset of  DJD, slow the progression and/or make life more comfortable if you are dealing with  DJD:

 ~ Maintain a low inflammation diet – avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners, refined or simple carbohydrates and too much protein.  Choose a variety of deeply colored vegetables, healthy fats, and anti-oxidant rich fruit.

 ~ Keep your body weight in check.  Extra pounds mean more stress on your joints.

 ~ Get plenty of sleep and try to reduce the effects of stress through mind body practices like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.

 ~ Exercise.  Motion is lotion for your joints.  In order to keep moving, you have to keep moving.  Choose activities that move your joints in a variety of ways with out undo impact to your joints.

 

I hope you find this information useful.  Stay tuned.  I will be writing about my upcoming surgery and recovery.

 All good thoughts are welcome and appreciated!

 Until next time…

 Be well

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