The hints box
Walking helps people with osteoarthritis – and surgery!
I am a retired consultant paediatric surgeon with osteoarthritis affecting mainly my spine, hips and hands. I had a menisectomy (surgery to remove torn cartilage in the knee) in 1959 which of course resulted in osteoarthritis of that knee, although the other knee remains fine. I have always walked, climbed hills, cycled and ridden a great deal, and as a result was able to carry on without knee joint replacement until 2006.
My operation was very successful. My orthopaedic surgeon is quite sure that I managed 47 years post-menisectomy simply because I walked so much. It stands to reason, I think, that continued use of muscle groups is far better than static quads exercises.
I am totally amazed therefore, to read in the winter 2010 edition of Arthritis Today of the attitude of some physios to exercise. And no – patients cannot be trusted to do boring exercises in the house. Send them out in the fresh air to walk, climb hills, climb stairs, etc – yes it will hurt to start with but wears off as you keep going and the joint will last years longer before needing surgery!
I have now had my right hip replaced three times, left hip once, left knee once, have had metallic fusion in my spine and a subsequent spinal decompression I still walk two miles a day and can walk up to five miles at the age of 78.
Margaret Mayell, Woodborough, Nottinghamshire
Tips for painful feet
Ruth Dallas writes about nodules under her foot (Q&A Arthritis Today 151). I too have rheumatoid arthritis and had a similar growth under the joint of my great toe. Initially thought to be a verucca, it has responded well to appointments with my podiatrist and regular use of a padded tubular bandage. I used to have nodules on my fingers and elbows, arising I’m told from methotrexate, so it seems likely that the one on the toe has the same cause. A foot file or pumice stone won’t touch it but the podiatrist’s scalpel does. Pressure on the toe from tight-fitting shoes should be avoided.
Christopher Roberts,Market Harborough, Leicestershire
This may help the lady with pains in her left foot. If she gets a half-cm-wide “bar” secured to the sole of her shoe, this will take the weight away from the painful area and transfer it to where the bar is secured (by a cobbler). I hope it will help her as it helped my husband.
A Biczo, Royton, Oldham, Lancashire
Useful brands to help counter Sjögren’s dryness
I’ve had Sjögren’s syndrome, along with other autoimmune problems, for decades. One thing I have found is that using Weleda natural oral care toothpaste has sorted out the mouth ulcers. (I use calendula because I have problems with peppermint). As skin and scalp difficulties can add to one’s misery, I would suggest using Dead Sea natural mineral shampoo, usually available at Boots. Don’t be put off by the price – it lasts for ages. Avoiding laureth sulphate (a chemical used in many cosmetics) in any product I know is also advisable.
Cynthia Gittos, Colchester, Essex
The effects of tomatoes
I read with interest the letter from Mary Kirk (Q&A Winter 2011) from Halesworth in Suffolk regarding her concern about the consumption of tomatoes. I have had rheumatoid and osteoarthritis for the past 15 years, and I find I get a reaction from tomatoes and also strawberries. Bright-coloured fruit and vegetables bring on an attack of arthritis in my knees, hands and jaw within 30 minutes to an hour. I have not eaten meat or poultry for more than 20 years and stopped eating fish 18 months ago. During that 18 month period flare-ups seem to occur more often and with more severity. I find that a healthy diet of vegetables on the bland side, exercise and acupuncture seem to be the only form of “medication” other than chemicals that help me.
George Forsyth, Saltburn by the Sea, Teeside
I was interested to read the letter from Mary Kirk regarding the effect of tomatoes on her arthritis. I too had a flare-up of symptoms which I put down to tomatoes. Since keeping off them I have been much better.
Mrs A Wright, Tavistock, Devon
Editor’s note: Some people believe certain foods are bad for arthritis. These include acidic fruit (e.g. oranges, lemons and grapefruit) and vegetables from the so-called nightshade family including potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, chillies and peppers. There’s no scientific evidence that leaving out any of these foods helps arthritis, and doing so may reduce the beneficial antioxidants in the diet.