Polymyalgia is an arthritic inflammatory condition that causes muscle pain, loss of mobility with stiffness mainly felt within the hip & shoulder areas.
Prominently noticeable in the mornings, taking about an hour or so to feel some relief. The pain of Polymyalgia Rheumatica can be alleviated by improving flexibility, also making positive dietary and lifestyle changes.
Acid Forming Foods a Major Culprit
It has been found that a diet that is high in acidic forming foods may well be a main contributor to this debilitating condition.
Foods such as red meat, alcohol, soft drinks, processed foods and high sugar intake, may well be an underlying cause to this condition.
In this article I share with you the signs and symptoms of the condition, including the drug treatment and the side effects of this treatment.
I will also include alternative safe, effective non-drug ways of improving this condition
The signs and symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica usually occur on both sides of the body and may include:
• Aches or pain in your shoulders (often the first symptom)
• Aches or pain in your neck, upper arms, buttocks, hips or thighs
• Stiffness in affected areas, particularly in the morning or after being inactive for a long time
• Limited range of motion in affected areas
• Pain or stiffness in your wrists, elbows or knees (less common)
You may also have more general signs and symptoms, including:
• Mild fever
• A general feeling of not being well (malaise)
• Loss of appetite
• Unintended weight loss
Drug Treatment is usually begins with low doses of corticosteroids
Long-term use of corticosteroids can result in a number of serious side effects. Your doctor will monitor you closely for problems. He or she may adjust your dosage and prescribe treatments to manage these reactions to corticosteroid treatment. Possible side effects include:
• Weight gain
• Osteoporosis — the loss of bone density and weakening of bones
• High blood pressure (hypertension)
• Cataracts — a clouding of the lenses of your eyes
If you continue to take the drug treatment you will first need to supplement your diet with –Calcium and vitamin D supplements
Your doctor will likely prescribe daily doses of calcium and vitamin D supplements to help prevent bone loss induced by corticosteroid treatment. The American Academy of Rheumatology recommends the following daily doses for anyone taking corticosteroids:
1,200 to 1,500 milligrams (mg) of calcium supplements
800 to 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D supplements
However it is important to note that you will still be at risk with other health problems.
Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or naproxen (Aleve), Panadol osteo, Panadeine forte are not recommended for easing the signs and symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica. As they come with their own set of health risks.
Making a decision to Healthy lifestyle choices is the only safe and effective way to manage the symptoms whilst also providing support for your body to heal.
Making these Changes will help to improve both your rheumatic systems as well as your overall health
- The first step to improved Health lies in Changing your Diet.
Reduce or Eliminate Red meat, make vegetables your best friend. Eat a wide range of vegetables such as sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, parsnips, eggplant, and zucchini. Greens are your best friend giving you magnesium as well as many other nutrients to help maintain healthy muscles, aid detoxification and improve blood flow.
Eliminate dairy except Organic Plain or Vanilla Yogurt.
- Reduce your salt intake: The best way to do this is to NEVER add salt to your cooking or meals and keep processed foods to a bare minimum, this also includes bread as these are laden with salt.
- Reduce Sugar: Once again processed foods are laden with sugar, soft drinks, even juices. Most processed foods have huge amounts of sugar and salt that will firstly effect the flow of your blood, this leading to heart attacks, high blood pressure, dementia, Alzheimers and reduced limb and body movement.
Exercise to Reduce Pain: Yes the old saying “If you don’t use it you will lose it, exercise acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, improves blood flow, keeps muscles toned, not just your external muscles but your internal ones as well. Keeping them functioning and working well. It can be as simple as a 30 minute walk once a day and 30 minutes of stretching exercises.
Build Muscular Strength: that are beneficial for maintaining muscular strength, improved flexibility and decreased pain are: Swimming, cycling and as mentioned walking. Running may also be included however this can create joint problems when running on hard surfaces
Why Stretching is Important
By including stretching as part of your daily exercise routine you will be lengthening your muscles and the tendons associated with them. This is helpful in preventing tightening of the muscles and tendons, it is this tightening and rigidity that is one of the causes of pain. A lifestyle that involves extended periods of sitting or driving will cause your muscles to shorten and tighten therefore reducing your range of movement, causing rigidity and pain. The effect that stretching has on the muscles is that it promotes flexibility, improving your full range of motion and movements surrounding your joints.
When to Stretch – it is important to stretch when your muscles are warm as cold muscles are not able to be stretched effectively and you may be at risk of tearing them. So on rising from bed as you are warm, but even better after your brisk walk, swim or bike ride.
Important to Note: it is important to always stretch before and after any form of vigorous exercise. If it is before exercise, then just do light stretches that you feel comfortable with.
Stretching is often recommended: As a self-help therapy stretching is often recommended by a physiotherapist or massage therapist to keep your muscles subtle between treatments. It is also recommended that if you do have a sedentary job where you are doing a great deal of sitting that every 50 minutes you do some light stretches. This helps to prevent for example repetitive strain injury and carpel tunnel problems.
Here is a Simple Stretching Routine for you to follow:
Stretch when your muscles are warm either on just getting out of bed, after a warm bath or exercise. If you are stretching prior to exercise, just warm up for a few minutes prior by walking on the spot.
Don’t stretch to the point of pain, your stretching needs to be gentle and smooth.
Breathe deep whilst stretching
Hold each stretch for 10 – 30 seconds
Repeat each stretch 2 – 3 times working both sides of your body equally.
1. Neck, Shoulder – Lower your ear towards your shoulder, keep your face looking forwards, gently feel the stretch along the opposite of your neck. Return neck to upright position. Repeat on the other side. As an additional movement whilst doing this, stretch your opposite hand towards the floor as this will increase and improve the stretch on your neck muscles. Improves neck flexibility and improves blood flow.
2. Upper arm and Shoulder– Lift both arms above your head, bend your elbows, placing your forearms behind your head, but not resting on it. Gently take hold of your right elbow with your left hand, allow your right hand to drop towards the middle of your shoulder blades. You will feel the stretch on the outside of your upper right arm. Gently pull your right elbow towards your left shoulder to deepen the stretch. Repeat with your other arm.
3. Internal Rotator, Shoulder – Hold a towel between both hands as shown, gently pull the towel upwards with your left hand, feel the stretch in the shoulder of your right arm, as this arm is gently being pulled further up your back. Repeat for the opposite shoulder.
4. Scapula, Top of Your Shoulder Blade– Cross your right arm in front of your chest, placing your right hand over your left shoulder. Keeping your right arm parallel, to the ground, use your left hand to push your right elbow gently towards your left shoulder. You will feel the stretch in the muscle across the top of your right shoulder blade. Repeat for the opposite shoulder.
5. Pectoral Chest Muscle – Placing your right hand on a doorway at shoulder height, move your feet so as to turn your chest and body gently away from your arm. You will feel the stretch on the right – hand side of your chest and along the inside of your right upper arm. Repeat for the opposite side. (You can also do the stretch with your arm slightly elevated as shown in diagram.)
6. Biceps (front of upper arm) – Sit on the floor with your feet flat on the floor. Have your knees bent in front of you, place your hand flat on the floor or on a mat, behind you. Have your hands fairly close together with your fingers pointing away from you. Walk your hands away from your bottom to feel the stretch in the muscles at the front of your upper arms.
7. Lower Back extension and abdomen – With this stretch if you have lower back problems you may find this one a little difficult, trust your judgement. If light stretches aren’t causing any discomfort then go ahead, otherwise you may wish to refrain from this one. Lying face down on the mat on the floor, have your hands out in front of you, elbows slightly bent to make a diamond shape. Now straighten your elbows so that your chest begins to lift slightly off the floor. You will feel the stretch along the front of your abdomen. Something to be aware of is that by having your hands close to your shoulders will produce a very strong abdominal stretch, therefore a greater extension in your lower back. This may be uncomfortable for some people, if you feel it too uncomfortable spread your hands a little further apart.
8. Upper Back extension – Kneel on the floor mat on all fours,(ie. On your hands and knees). Gently stretch your arms out in front of you along the floor whilst allowing your head to drop towards the floor, move your bottom towards your heels. You will feel the stretch in your upper back between your shoulder blades. Gently walk your fingertips away from your body for a stronger stretch in your shoulders. Ensure that you keep your tail bone as close to your heels as possible.
9. Side Stretch – Standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your upper body to the right, whilst continuing to fact the front, not to allow your hips to rotate. At the same time using your right hand, push your right hip gently in the opposite direction. You will feel the stretch along the left-hand side of your torso. Repeat for the opposite side.
10. Hamstrings (Back of your Thigh) – Place your right foot on either a bench or chair with your leg, extend your leg from the knee, keeping leg straight. Slowly lean forward whilst reaching your hands towards your right shin and keeping your torso straight. You will feel the stretch along the back of your right thigh. Keep your head up and looking forwards. Reach your hands toward your right shin, once again keeping your torso straight. You will feel the stretch along the back of your right thigh. Keep you head up and continue to look to the forwards, bending from the waist, it’s important not to hunch. Repeat for opposite leg.
11. Front of Thigh, Quadriceps – Begin by steadying yourself by resting your left hand on a wall or doorway. Keep your posture upright and lift your right foot off the ground. Now bend your right knee and grasp your right ankle with your right hand. Gently pull your ankle up and back toward your bottom until you feel a stretch in the front of your right thigh. Your left leg should be slightly bent at the knee. Repeat for the opposite leg.
12. Gluteal muscles (Your bottom) – Lying with your back pressed into the floor mat, have your knees bent, hip width apart, with your feet flat on the floor. Now lift your left leg and place your left ankle across your right knee, clasping your fingers around your right knee. Lift your right foot off the ground and pull your right knee towards you. You will feel a stretch in your gluteal muscles of your left buttock. Your head can be on the floor if it feels uncomfortable having it up. Repeat for opposite side.
13. Groin or Adductor muscle – Stand upright, place your hands on your hips for balance, now place your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Keeping your feet pointing to the front, now lunge sideways taking your weight onto your left foot and bending your left knee. You will feel the stretch in your right groin. Repeat on opposite side.
14. Front of Hip – Kneel by placing your right knee on your mat, or you have knee troubles you may want to use a pillow to place your knee on. Have your left foot flat on the floor in front of you and forward of your left knee. Steadying yourself by keeping your posture upright and by resting your hands on your left knee. Don’t allow your left knee to project in front of your foot. Now gently push your hips forwards until you feel a stretch at the front of your right hip. Keep your gluteal muscles contracted to keep your bottom down. Repeat the stretch for the opposite side.
15. Tensor fascia (Outer Hip area) – Resting your hands on a table or wall directly in front of you for balance, cross your right leg behind your left, now placing your fee about a foot length apart, keeping your posture fairly upright, now push your right hip outwards. You will feel the stretch along the outer side of your right hip. Repeat the opposite side.
16. Outer Thigh Area: Hip to knee – Stand with your left side approximately an arm’s length from the wall, place your left hand on the wall for balance. Cross your right leg in front of your left leg. Now with your weight mainly on your left leg, lean your left hip towards the wall. You will feel the stretch down the outside of your left leg from your hip to your knee, this is what is known as the iliotibial band. Repeat for the opposite leg.
17. Calf Muscles – Stand facing a wall and place your hands on the wall at eye level, stepping your right leg back, bending the knee extended at the front, now gently lean into the wall whilst keeping your back leg straight and the hell of your back foot firmly on the ground. You will feel the stretch in the back of your right calf. Repeat for the other side.
18. Deep calf muscles otherwise known as Soleus – Stand facing a wall, placing your hands on the wall at chest height. Step your right leg back, bending both knees slightly, your right knee should be over and in front of your right foot. You will fee the stretch in the lower one-third of your right calf muscle. Ensuring that you keep your pelvis tucked in under, if you arch your bottom out you wont’ feel the stretch in your calf. Repeat for the other side.
As you will see there are 18 various stretching exercises you can do, to begin with this may all seem a little too overwhelming. So my suggestion is that you divide them up over 6 days, yes 6 days, having a rest on the 7th day. So begin with 3 per day, do that for a week then add 1 per day getting to the number per day that you are comfortable with. Some of my clients build themselves up to the 18 per day, whilst many of them, depending on their age and level of fitness tend to do a minimum of 6 per day.
So the two main areas that are going to support a lifetime of agility and flexibility whilst reducing pain are the food you eat and the level of activity you incorporate each day.