Tag Archives: glucosamine

Arthritis or Tendonitis?

Gentle Reader,

Tendonitis or arthritis?  Which is it?  My oldest daughter (52) was feeling sprightly one morning in Ecstatic Dance and accepted an invitation to do a cartwheel and round off.  Why not?  She is fit, exercises daily and used to do them easily when she was a gymnast back in high school.  So off she sped across the floor, executing the perfect cartwheel and round off, landing smartly on her heels, arms out in a victory pose.  Immediately she felt the sharp pain in her right buttock but went on dancing.  That was last August.  By December she could not bear weight on that leg, on her sit bone which made walking and sitting painful and challenging.  The diagnosis was a torn hamstring tendon, a rare accident usually confined to linebackers. Most orthopedists see a hand full in a life-long practice.  She found one who, in twenty years, had repaired twelve such injuries.  The operation was successful and she is walking, driving, and sitting comfortably again.  This condition is a torn or ruptured tendon.  Definitely not tendonitis or arthritis of the hip, which she fleeting believed it might be.

Tendonitis, commonly called tennis elbow, swimmer’s shoulder, trigger finger, is an inflammation of the fibrous, cordlike connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone.  Tendons can withstand amazing amounts of force, but they are not indestructible.  Witness my daughter’s round off.  The pain of tendonitis accompanies stiffness and swelling near a joint.  Arthritis presents in the same way.  When you get this pain, stiffness and swelling, you usually take some anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen; apply ice and rest the affected joint.  But this could be a miss-diagnosis.  [information from an article in Johns Hopkins Health Alerts]

Perhaps the inflammation is actually in the sheath around the tendon.  Tendons do not contain many blood vessels, so they are seldom inflamed.  If you are over 50, it is possible your tendons are degenerating.  The collagen that makes up the tendon breaks down, causing multiple microscopic tears.  What little blood circulation there is to the tendon also decreases with age, making the healing of these microscopic tears more difficult.  This degenerative condition is called tendinosis. Can you tell the difference between tendinosis and arthritis?

It is common to develop tendinosis and have no symptoms until some sudden trauma or the gradual build up of repetitive motion in work, sport or exercise.  Perhaps my daughter had tendonosis compromising the tendon’s elasticity.  She would not have known that she was at risk for a major trauma to the hamstring tendon.

Here’s a way to tell if your joint pain, stiffness and swelling is tendon related or bone and joint related:  try taking glucosamine (Joint Health Complex by Shaklee) for two weeks. If it helps, you likely have osteoarthritis.  If not, it is more likely a tendon problem.

Glucosamine has been shown in quite a few scientific studies to help with cartilage formation.  Cartilage is what your joints are made of, and what arthritis attacks, so upping the rate of production of cartilage helps your joints.  You feel better….if you have arthritis.

On the other hand, glucosamine will not help with collagen formation, and tendons are made of collagen.  So it stands to reason that if you feel like you have “joint pain”, take glucosamine, and do not experience any relief, one very likely culprit could be your tendons.  Tendon insertion points are often very close to joints and it can be difficult to tell exactly where the pain is coming from.

Taking NSAIDs (anti-inflammatories) using ice and rest can provide temporary relief for either tendonosis or arthritis, but since both are the result of inflammation, using these treatments will not help you distinguish between the two.  Knowing which one you have is important if you intend to treat the condition yourself.  If you take NSAIDs and they do not help, you probably have degeneration of the tendon.

This information comes from a web site http://www.targettendonitis.com/ by Alex Nordach, who is marketing his ebook (for $29) on how to treat degenerating tendons.  I have not purchased this book so I can’t recommend it.  If you are interested, follow the link and see for yourself.

What I can tell you about natural healing for both joint and tendon caused pain, is the following:

Acupuncture can relieve pain, stiffness and swelling. 

Vitamins C and B Complex, plus Alfalfa help build collagen naturally, reduce inflammation and increase blood flow into the area.  And I do not mean one or two tablets.  3000 mgr. of Sustained Relief C and 6 tablets a day of Shaklee’s B Complex can make a difference.  I could tell you stories of people who have avoided surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome by taking lots of B Complex.  Alfalfa tablets are small pea sized pills and should be eaten by the spoon full, not one by one.  We are talking food.  Can’t swallow that many pills?  Chew them up.  Shaklee’s Alfalfa tablets smell sweet when you open the bottle and taste like new mown hay with no sticks or twigs.

Whether your joint pain is tendonosis or arthritis, these supplements will help.  Since glucosamine is expensive and NSAIDs mess up your stomach, check out the treatments to see what you are dealing with and then proceed with these three supplements. Their side benefits are legion.

In most of my blog posts, I talk about the various causes of arthritis and things you can do to manage arthritis short of medication and surgery.  This blog addresses another cause of joint pain, tendonitis and tendinosis.  I hope this refinement — arthritis or tendonitis–helps you.

If this information is helpful, please let me know.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving,


206 933 1889





Facebook Twitter Email

Gifts for arthritis

Gentle Reader,

Who do you know who suffers from sore, painful knees, hips, fingers or shoulders?  You love this person who has arthritis and you are going to go shopping to buy them something for Christmas.  Why not combine a cozy lap blanket with an herbal pain reliever and a deep-tissue cream that could bring comfort as well as warmth?

I’m not a shopper so I was stunned Wed. night when a friend and I went to a movie in Seattle’s endless mall area with a big AMC.  We were thinking the parking would be easier.  Whoa! People are out shopping already—in droves and into the night.  In this blog, I’m inviting you to shop.  ‘Tis the season, right?

You might appreciate choosing gifts that bring better health to those you care about.  This is an invitation to shop for health.  Bring meaning to every purchase.

Have you watched Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff?  Take a minute to watch before piling up a mound and consider the necessity of each purchase and how it got to the store and what the received is going to do with that gift later.

I make an argument for buying a Shaklee product over something else because I believe in the company’s philosophy of living in harmony with nature in every aspect of their corporate life.  In the end, stuff is stuff, and all the great suggestions I have for you about things you can add to a Shaklee product to make a sweet, health enhancing gift still accumulates stuff.  It is tricky being a fierce environmentalist and a sales person of goods I love and buy myself.

So, having suggested you buy nothing this Christmas here goes my suggestions for what to buy for someone who has been complaining of arthritis.  After all, I know you and I are going to buy some stuff anyway.

Joint & Muscle Pain Relief Cream with a microwaveable comfort pillow.

Pain Relief Complex and Physique After Workout Recovery Drink with Peggy Cappy’s DVD “Easy Yoga for the Rest of Us” especially for arthritis.  Add a yoga mat to make this gift special.

Joint Health Complex and Peggy Cappy’s CD meditation for back health.   I listen to this CD nearly every night and I’m convinced her quiet words have helped heal the arthritis in my lower back.  You can add an orthopedic pillow.  This is the one I have used for the last 15 years and I love it.

I have a lo-o-o-ng list of healthy living gifts on my resource page www.GrandmaBetsyBell.com.

If you decide to do any of these suggestions, I’d love to hear about the results.  You can shop for the Shaklee part of the gift at www.GrandmaBetsyBell.com/shop.  Or you can click on the links above.

Have a great Thanksgiving, pain free and full of love.

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving,


206 933 1889

Enjoy the list.  I hope you get some great ideas.  Let me know if you have questions.

Facebook Twitter Email

Does it matter What I Eat?

Does it matter what I eat?

You bet it does.  But what specific dietary precautions a person needs to take to ease painful arthritis depends on a number of conditions.  First of all, there are 5 types of arthritis:

Degenerative (Osteoarthritis)

Inflammatory (rheumatoid arthritis, allergic autoimmune)

Toxic (gout)

Traumatic (old fractures, etc)

Infection (Lyme disease)

There are many web sites where you can study and learn what experts have to say about diet and arthritis.  One that I found particularly helpful is found on the WebMD website as the authors have researched the science behind popular dietary recommendations, affirming some and debunking others.  I will not go into great detail about specific dietary strategies as there are so many resources available to you.  I will offer my own experiences with various dietary interventions and especially with the supplements I have found to be helpful.

I started out with a medically induced arthritis in my knees caused by an anti-biotic.  Let’s classify that as an inflammatory arthritis.  I was a teenager, stressed out and sick with a serious sinus infection.  If arthritis results from a weakened immune system, it is perhaps not surprising that the anti-biotic kicked off the symptoms.  (Details of this are in my last post)

Foods that support a strong immune system are discussed, listed, touted, advertised on bill boards, radio, TV, newspapers, talk shows, pod casts and Face Book side bar ads.  Do we not know what they are?  Of course.  Fresh organic fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy green ones like Chard, Collard and mustard greens, asparagus, and bring on the color: carrots, beets, black berries, blue berries, cantaloupe.  Protein from lean sources like lamb, chicken, fish provides the essential building blocks.  Minerals like zinc are particularly instrumental in the immune battle of attack on bacteria or viruses.

There is no excuse for ignorance on this topic in today’s world.  I googled “foods for immune support” and Whole Foods came up top with its thorough general article on the immune system and foods that  keep it functioning.  Whole Foods sends daily health tips including detailed articles on every vegetable and fruit under the sun and that specific food’s contribution to your health.  My friend and massage therapist Kate McCoy sends these articles on to her client list.  Thank you, Kate.

Back in 1954, we didn’t have all these details, but we knew to eat liver once a week, take cod liver oil, have several servings of brightly colored fruits and vegetables every day.  Today’s 5th graders all watch the movie Supersize Me.  They know the consequences of a poor diet.

Do we make the right choice?  Do they?

Consider traumatic arthritis, the kind that results from injury, my second type of arthritis.  A herniated disc results in arthritis eventually if not immediately.  Doctors expect injury to bring on arthritis. I remember jumping down from a high fence after this herniation.  I needed a short cut and chose to scale a chain link fence about 6 ft tall and drop down on the other side.  Because the nerves in my left leg were no longer functioning, it did not do that springy little bounce when I hit the ground and the top of the tibia broke.  I drove myself to the emergency room.  While discussing with the orthopedist at the University of Washington hospital whether surgery would be necessary, he looked right at me and predicted “You’ll have arthritis in this knee in a couple years and be in here for a knee replacement in 10 years.”

I still have the original knee and have no arthritis in it 20 years later.

I attribute the healthy and long lasting recovery from that knee break and an ankle break while cross country skiing in 1997 to some very specific dietary interventions in the form of supplements.  Every time your body suffers a major trauma like this, there is a lot of inflammation.  “ Inflammation is the body’s healthy response to infection, tissue damage or both. By sending increased amounts of white blood cells to the injured area, the body is better able to repair any damage. Without the inflammation process, injuries would not heal. Most holistic health practitioners feel that taking anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs in fact masks and hence lessens the chances of proper healing.” Quoting from Michelle Schoffro Cook’s Healing Soft Tissue Injury the Natural Way 

There is an appropriate time for anti inflammatory drugs, probably in the first 48 to 72 hours, but after the initial easing of the situation, allowing the white cells to do their job and assisting with the removal of the damaged tissue naturally has a much greater healing effect.  I used copious amounts of Lecithin and Alfalfa.  Lecithin is an emulsifier, so it makes more liquid any sticky clumps of damaged cells thus helping them flow more easily into the blood stream and out in the waste.  Alfalfa is a natural anti-inflammatory bringing minerals to the affected area in ways not fully understood.  Vitamin C helps rebuild the cellular integrity in the damaged area as C is the main component of collagen, the stuff that makes the cell wall strong.  These supplemental nutrients plus daily exercises, sitting on the floor and doing leg raises with the cast on helped me come out of 3 months non-weight bearing with almost no muscle tone loss.  The swelling subsided quickly because of the supplements.  I’d say my left leg is as strong as the right one today even after these two injuries.

The final arthritis I’m going to consider from a dietary point of view is osteoarthritis, by far the most common for people as we age.   This is simply the result of living beyond our joints’ ability to keep us moving.  The joints, especially the knees and hips, wear out.  The soft cushion that protects the joint wears down and the bone itself thickens.  Bone on bone is that awful grinding that makes getting up and down the stairs impossible and kills the hip with every upward step.  Those of us who use our bodies hard with hiking and skiing, running and bending and lifting, wear the joints down even before we think we might be getting old.

Since one in five people in the US today have arthritis, you can bet there are a million stories about what foods help.  A friend of mine who had a cherry orchard in Eastern Washington swore that 10 dried cherries every day kept her from having arthritis pain.  How is a person to decide?  Trying out 10 dried cherries a day to see how that works for you isn’t a very expensive or challenging proposition.  I’m going to pass on a few more that are easy to try out.  But first.

First and foremost, you must do everything you can to get to your best weight.  Even 10 pounds less will help your suffering joints.  If you don’t think it matters that much, try carrying around 10 lbs of flour or potatoes for a couple hours and see how your knees, hips and back hold up.

The food claims—fact or fiction—that help from the article mentioned above includes a few references with which I have personal experience.  I’ll share them here.

Nightshade plants.  Some people seem to get relief when they eliminate the nightshade plants which include tomatoes, egg plant, potatoes and peppers.  I have tried this and it doesn’t seem to make any difference.  However, during one period of particularly bad pain in my lower back from spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis, I evaluated my dietary intake and realized I had greatly increased my seasonal intake of potatoes and peppers.  I cut them out for a couple weeks and did notice improvement.  There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that the nightshade plants cause arthritis pain.  Just experiment and see if you are helped when you eliminate these foods.

The Alkaline Diet.  “The alkaline diet presumes both OA and RA are caused by too much acid. Among the foods it excludes are sugar, coffee, red meat, most grains, nuts, and citrus fruits.” I have subscribed to this theory and perhaps felt some relief.  Going back to grains, nuts and fruit did not make the arthritis worse.  There are no scientific studies to support this theory.  From my own experience, when I eliminate sugar and white flour in all its delicious forms, my joints do much better.  And my weight has been stable at its ideal level for years now.  It is true that during the holidays, when the tasty pies and cookies show up and I enjoy more than one piece for several days on end, I generally suffer from stiffer joints, more painful limbs and a fuzzy brain as well.  Try doing without refined white flour for a month and see how you feel.  You might be surprised and you’ll certainly drop a pound or two.  Need help identifying aklaline and acid foods? ACID&ALKALINEchart Bevacqua 3-04 (2).pdf is a chart that will help.

Vegetarian Diet.  Especially people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis get relief when they switch to a vegetarian diet and that relief remains pretty constant over time.  I followed a vegetarian diet for several years after being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 34, and ran myself completely in the ground, became extremely anemic and exhausted all the time. I had no idea how to eat a healthy vegetarian diet.  Now that I know more about all the wonderful ways you can get complete protein, I might not be so adversely effected.  When I talk with vegetarians who depend on cheese and pasta, I shudder to think of their joints.  There is a science to getting all the nutrients you need, especially that chief building block, protein, from a vegetarian diet, so get the knowledge you need to eat well.

Switching fats.  Probably the most helpful of the popular suggestions is this one.  Get off butter and corn oil and switch to olive oil.  Omega 3, fish oil, borage oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and Flax seed oil really do make a difference to cranky joints. Butter just congeals.  You’d be surprised how much you can come to enjoy olive oil over butter and you’ll love the results in your joints.

Green Tea.  I was not expecting this in the list, even though I have known about the benefits of a Pomegranate Green Tea that I have been drinking for a couple years now.  Combining green, red, white and red tea in a power that can be taken in hot water or cool has a 2 page of beneficial properties not the least of which is joint comfort.  There is evidence in the scientific community to back the claim that green tea helps with arthritis.

Chondroitin and Glucosamine Many take supplements containing these together and get some relief.  In a fascinating article on an Orthopedics web site, I learned how glucosamine and chondroitin work.
“Glucosamine and chondroitin are two molecules that make up the type of cartilage found within joints. Inside your joints, cartilage undergoes a constant process of breakdown and repair. However, to be properly repaired, the building blocks of cartilage must be present and available. The theory behind using the glucosamine and chondroitin joint supplements is that more of the cartilage building blocks will be available for cartilage repair.

  • Glucosamine is a precursor to a molecule called a glycosaminoglycan-this molecule is used in the formation and repair of cartilage.
  • Chondroitin is the most abundant glycosaminoglycan in cartilage and is responsible for the resiliency of cartilage.

Treatment with these joint supplements is based on the theory that oral consumption of glucosamine and chondroitin may increase the rate of formation of new cartilage by providing more of the necessary building blocks.”

Unfortunately supplemental use of glucosamine and chondroitin “ has not been shown to alter the availability or quantity of these cartilage building blocks inside an arthritic joint.”

Long term users of these supplements do experience less pain and often can discontinue the NSAIDS medications.

The joint health supplements I take are manufactured by the Shaklee Corp.  Their scientists have also found no evidence that chondroitin taken orally increases cartilage.  Their product uses boswellia, a botanical that interferes with the damaging action of chemicals in our body that attack cartilage.  New research suggests that chondrotin interferes with the absorption of glucosamine, the primary building block of new cartilage.  Adding boswellia may indeed deliver more of these glucosamine building blocks to the joints where they can actually build new cartilage.  Shaklee’s glucosamine is shell fish free and has C, zinc, cooper and manganese, all helpful in supporting healthy connective tissue.

I hope these comments have been helpful and have added to your own research into dietary and supplemental help for arthritis.  The most important take away is weight management.  Amongst my hiking and cross-country skiing buddies, most of us in our late 60s and 70s, most of us are at our healthy weight.  We are still moving well. However, joints have begun to wear out and one of our group had a hip replacement last year.  She is back hiking and skiing with us.  Age takes its toll, but good diet, healthy weight and continued exercise can keep the aging joints moving.

In my next post I will consider pain relief.  I’ll be back after a brief hiatus enjoying the sun on the Mayan Riviera.

Be Well, Do Well, Keeping Moving.

Betsy Bell

Betsy Bell’s Health4U


Facebook Twitter Email