‘Arthur’ ain’t so righteous

Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 6/18/2015, 4:31 p.m.
Many of my religious patients refer to the medical condition known as arthritis as “Arthur,” and when Arthur ain’t so ...
Dr. Gerald Deas

Many of my religious patients refer to the medical condition known as arthritis as “Arthur,” and when Arthur ain’t so kind to them, he’s arthritis or just plain irritating.

I’m sure that many of you have head of that old Negro spiritual “Dem Bones.” The substance of this song comes from the book of Ezekiel 39, in the Old Testament, when God told the prophet Ezekiel to go and tell his folks who were all bent out of shape spiritually and physically that if they wished to get their dry bones together, that they would have to make some spiritual adjustments. Ezekiel began to preach to his tribe. He told them that to get their disjointed selves together, they would have to connect their bones, muscles, tendons and skin, treating them as one unit. This would enable them to start strutting righteously toward the “Promised Land.”

When you think about it, Ezekiel was way ahead of the doctors when he suggested that a joint is more than just bone. A joint consists of the skin that covers the muscles, tendons, blood vessels and bone. It is a very complicated space. It is therefore important for the physician to treat all of these components to reduce pain. For example, just think how soothing it is to place a warm compress on the skin of a joint when it is swollen.

When a joint is irritated, muscle spasms occur, and they must also be attended to with muscle relaxants, as well as an appropriate amount of calcium and magnesium. To reduce swelling and pain, hot and cold compresses will make the joint jump for joy. Oftentimes, ice packs are used to reduce swelling by decreasing the amount of blood reaching that area. It is often important when a joint is swollen from an injury to remember the acronym RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).

Just remember this: “When joints begin to swell and pain/And there’s no one else to blame/Just follow some other suggestions below/And you will be ready to go som-mo.”

• Moderate exercise can keep the joint from becoming stiff and you won’t become a stiff (hard to deal with, harsh, hopeless and hard to move).

• A supplement of a multiple vitamin containing the antioxidants, vitamin A, C, E, folic acid, B6 and vitamin D.

• An ample amount of vitamin D (1,000 IU) will help reduce muscle spasms.

• An over-the-counter supplement containing glucosamine and chondrotin will help strengthen the cartilage on the surface of bones.

• Believe it or not, even celery tea reduces inflammation. I’m sure you have heard of Dr. Brown’s celery soda, which helps in reducing joint pain.

• A cup or two of green tea soothes an irritable joint.

• Fish oil (omega-3 oil or cod liver oil) will do wonders for a painful joint.

• Don’t forget the berries that are filled with flavonoids, such as blueberries, blackberries and cherries.

• Recently, it has been reported that co-enzyme Q10 (30 mgs daily) will reduce inflammation in the joint.

• Reducing nightshade veggies, such as potatoes, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes, which contain a substance called solanine that irritates the joint, will provide relief.

Medications that are often prescribed by a physician are capable of reducing inflammation but not curing it. Many of the medications have side effects. Gastrointestinal bleeding can be caused by drugs such as Advil, Motrin, Aleve and Aspirin. When gastrointestinal bleeding occurs, the stools will become black as tar. This discoloration is a danger signal. Tylenol, which is used frequently for joint pain, can cause liver damage in persons who are alcohol users.

Whatever over-the-counter prescriptions you may use, they should be discussed with your physician. Many of them may interfere with medications that you are on for other conditions, such as hypertension, heart failure and other drugs that your doctor may be giving you to control “Old Arthur.”

Drugs may allow you to strut, but you have to also take care of your gut.