Aging, Arthritis, and Joint Pain


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Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jan 23, 2013 - 08:00am PT
Ken, I have the same recurring kidney stones issue, but take Curicumin C3 Complex from Sabinsa corp.

Here's their paper on the oxalate content of their product:

beyond the sun
Jan 23, 2013 - 09:32am PT
I had arthritis of the hip strike me at a relatively young age (42) about a year and a half ago. It happened during a summer where I was spending a lot of time in the gym, lifting very heavy and doing a lot of cycling. Just came out of nowhere and got pretty bad, pretty quick. It runs in my family, I have come to find out.

Within a few months it was so bad I had stopped all physical activity and was walking with a noticeable limp on numerous days of the week.

7 months ago, after ending up sedentary for half a year+ because of it, I started investigating options. Doctors told me surgery / replacement should be a last resort, especially because of my young age.

To make a long story short, what ended up helping the most was going to a Pilates studio and doing special strengthening exercises several days a week - along with general conditioning. I first hobbled in there 8 months ago almost 20 pounds heavier (including useless muscle bulk) with a massive imbalance of weakness across my whole lower left side. It was causing the additional problem of a knee pulled out of alignment and now starting to also hurt.

I won't claim I am 100% better, but it is now very manageable and for the most part no longer holds me back from any sports. Lack of range of motion means big left foot high steps and wide stems are pretty iffy, but besides that, I am good to go. I just have to come up with different solutions to certain moves.

I just started climbing again 3 months ago after being inactive (for other reasons) for 10 years, and the arthritis is still not yet a limiting factor. I am on-sighting hard 5.10 again. I'm also ok again on the bicycle, though I can't pedal in a full tuck. The thing that gives me the most scares, is walking DOWN steep hills, especially when I am tired. My left side becomes lazy when fatigued and I am prone to falling down on walk offs.

The only "supplements" I have used for it has been ibuprofen. I am going to start looking in to turmeic (sp?) and some of the other things listed.

So far, staying more active than ever, getting down to the lowest weight possible and keeping all the muscles of the area very strong have been the keys to slowing this down.

Good luck to all the cartilage deficient!
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
Jan 23, 2013 - 09:38am PT
Bjj, you may benefit from using a pair of hiking poles, especially when walking downhill. Place the poles out in front of you to lean on when taking a step with your left leg. By using your upper body strength you can help to compensate for whatever weakness there is on your left side. Falling over is no fun.

beyond the sun
Jan 23, 2013 - 09:45am PT
That would probably help, but means I'd have to bring them along on long routes for the walk offs. That's pretty much the only time I put myself in a position of doing long downhill hiking.

Trad climber
New Durham, NH
Jan 23, 2013 - 10:06am PT
Three years ago the main joint on my left big toe was basically frozen with limited range of motion, pain during walking, and excruciating pain with direct contact, so I couldn't even put on climbing shoes and foot jams were out of the question. The podiatrist I saw took x-rays and a few other tests and told me it was osteoarthritis and there was nothing I could do about it. He said it would only get worse over time, and I would eventually require a titanium joint replacement.

That was, of course, unacceptable. I went to see an accupuncturist who agreed that there is never "nothing you can do about it," and after three treatments of about 40 minutes, spread over two weeks, I had nearly full mobility and the pain was largely gone. I started taking glucosamine and fish oil supplements, and was able to lace on climbing shoes and return to the rock 2-4 times a week. I also massage in Iron Hand liniment or Arnica gel 1-2 times a day.

Today the toe is only slightly swollen looking, and is not a factor whatsoever as to what I can do. I just started taking daily turmeric about 2 weeks ago, so we'll see how that goes.

Trad climber
fort garland, colo
Jan 23, 2013 - 10:21am PT
bjj- I had my first hip replaced at age 45, almost 8 years ago and it's doing great.
The left one, 2 weeks ago was " a bone not fit for beast or soup" shot. I weird because other than scopes, the knees are OK.. knock, knock

Edge- you got toes that the Doc says " I don't want to know.."

Trad climber
new york
Jan 23, 2013 - 10:53am PT
Another happy Turmeric user - I get mine through Mountain Rose herbs online, I think <$10 for a lb of organic. I mix in my breakfast cereal daily, about a total tbs worth or slightly more, with almond milk. Also good in a tea (almond milk, turmeric, honey, cinnamon, and cardamom).

Also check out Collagen - great research in the UK on auto-immune efficacy with joint issues. Something about how it steps in to prevent the body attacking the small joint tears (RA). I use a type II supplement in my smoothies mixed with a protein powder.

Fish oil I find works well (among other benefits) and would probably help the cause, I've had limited success with glucosamine/MSM.

Best words of advice for supps I ever got was "The most expensive supplement is the one that doesn't work." In other words, buy the expensive stuff if you want it to work, the cheap COSTCO crap will never absorb into your body.


Mountain climber
San Diego, CA
Jan 23, 2013 - 11:02am PT
Ok, I'm gonna say it!!

As a chiropractor I see a lot of patients with joint pain. I'm assuming we're talking about the joint pain associated with osteoarthritis (OA) aka degenerative arthritis, degenerative joint disease (DJD), degenerative disc disease (DDD), etc. It's all roughly the same. It's not inflammatory arthritis (e.g. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosis, Reiter's Syndrome, etc.)

Many people do not know, and are quite surprised to learn that nearly every joint in the body can be "manipulated" or "adjusted". Does it feel "stuck"? Like it's not moving properly? Is it also a bit painful? Maybe more painful with certain movements than others? Well let me tell you my trick!! I adjust these joints when they don't move the way they should. By carefully and specifically introducing motion into joints, they experience a few benefits...

The first one is purely biomechanical: the joint can now move throughout its normal range of motion.

The second one is neurological: any joint in the body, when immobilized in one or more directions, sends pain signals back to the brain to let you know that something "ain't right". Performing the proper adjustment restores the joint to its normal position so that these neurological signals of pain are no longer sent.

The third one is biochemical: careful and specific manipulation of any joint increases the flow of synovial fluid to and from that joint, which is the fluid within the joint capsule that provides nutrients, shock absorption, etc.

A story: I have a patient with hip pain on the left side. The hip joint becomes painful, she feels it with each step, and the hip joint does not have its normal expected range of motion. The adjustment happens, the magical "pop" is heard, and she giggles EVERY TIME. She thinks I'm some sort of weird magician. Or the Bruce Lee of the spine (hip). She doesn't really care to hear the explanations, she just likes that it works. ;)

So there it is. Straight from a rock climbing chiropractor. Feel free to ask me anything at any time!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jan 23, 2013 - 11:47am PT
Sincere question - do you come from one of those schools that views chiropractic as a cure-all?

I ask because I have a 30-year history of chiropractic adjustment and I, personally, have leaned to fear The Cult of Chiropractic. I still get my spine manipulated - I call it what it truly is: crack my back. I pay a guy $30 cash on the counter, to do it. That's it, no hocus pocus for me.

I'm curious because you're part of the industry, or whatever you may call it. Shed some insider light on the topic? I don't know you and this is in no way designed to be a broad-side against your profession. But to my way of thinking and I have done business with some of its practioneers, there are some quacks out there who claim a cure for the common cold and other such ridiculous things, arising from spinal misadjustment. I find such claims incredible, literally.


Mountain climber
San Diego, CA
Jan 24, 2013 - 09:59am PT
DMT, thanks for that post! I hope that I can serve as some sort of "ambassador" for my profession here at supertopo.

The way I explain the "cure-all" angle is like this: there is a "vocal minority" in our profession that operates in that manner. They believe that they're not responsible for diagnosing conditions, that all they do as a chiropractor is find subluxations, adjust the spine, and let the body heal itself. While that is consistent with licensing guidelines, state board requirements, etc., it's not the way to go, IMO. It's true that any doctor can practice any way they want once they get a license, they can be really weird and bizarre, do a lot of things that aren't evidence-based, and this includes many medical doctors as well as chiropractors.

I don't personally see chiropractic as a "cure-all", but occasionally people report odd things as a result of getting adjusted, like sleeping more soundly, breathing more easily, seeing or hearing more clearly, getting sick less frequently, etc. These are all things that chiropractors experience when they treat patients, it's what the patients tell me. I don't know for sure if that's really true, because a lot of these things haven't been studied in depth. But perhaps some chiropractors take those little tidbits and run with them, giving themselves more credit than they should...

I view my role as providing conservative (non-drug, non-surgical) outpatient care for musculoskeletal conditions. Occasionally I see people that have conditions that aren't helped by chiropractic care, so I refer them to the appropriate specialist (an M.D.). I run an evidence-based office, that's what I call it. I'm known for treating people just ONE TIME and "fixing them" with one good adjustment. I'm not worried about "retention" and keeping people coming back indefinitely. I figure they'll tell a friend about how I fixed them and I'll get referrals that way. Most people do adopt a schedule that works for them, like once per month or something. I definitely recommend that.

I gotta say that I give chiropractic a TON of credit for keeping me injury-free and feeling amazing. I climb 5 days per week and it definitely helps with the little aches and pains, and to stay flexible.

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Jan 24, 2013 - 10:23am PT
I'm 27 and in an orthopedic waiting room to look into meniscus surgery on my knee. Am I screwed? Will I be on this thread in my 30s? Anyone have good news for me? Should I just become a golfer?

Mountain climber
San Diego, CA
Jan 24, 2013 - 11:21am PT
I'd consider "conservative care" options first! Being only 27, you might have a darn good chance of conservative interventions giving you relief, rather than going for the "big guns" (surgery)!
Donald Thompson

Trad climber
Los Angeles,CA
Jan 24, 2013 - 11:40am PT
Anyone have good news for me? Should I just become a golfer?

Well. if I were you I'd change the moniker away from "limpingcrab". It just might be a sort of self-fulfilling negative meme.

Seriously, take a positive attitude. You are young and probably in good shape otherwise. There is a good chance that if you focus on your recovery in a way that will maximize a good outcome then it will be no time until you are up on the sharp end of the rope again.
Take heart.
Good Luck!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jan 24, 2013 - 11:45am PT
dark m - thanks for that well-considered reply.



Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 24, 2013 - 12:00pm PT
Limpingcrab, take up golf and you'll be knocking on Dark Magus' door regularly.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Jan 24, 2013 - 12:23pm PT
There is absolutely no correlation between arthritic aging changes and pain. Arthritis limits mobility, but does not "cause" pain (although the structural anomaly may 'trigger' it). Arthritis is one issue, pain is quite another. I read above where a 42 year old did a bunch of lifting and biking and then suddenly in two weeks, he was racked with crippling hip pain. Arthritis doesn't work like that. Arthritis is slow and gradual, not sudden and catastrophic. Self-imposed pressure to over-achieve, though, can trigger a PPD or chronic pain episode at the location of arthritic changes. Checking out the relationship between your unconscious emotional life and the onset of pain syndromes is the key to eliminating them. Utilizing the power of a placebo cure, like a joint supplement or chiro session, can also work too.

Although most aches and pains are 95% the result of stress, it's really important to get checked out by a traditional doctor to rule out any preexisting medical condition because a lot of autoimmune disorders (and cancer) can cause lower-back and joint pain.

Big Wall climber
Crestline CA
Jan 24, 2013 - 12:38pm PT
I am 68 and have tried most of the stuff mentioned, including Turmeric on Werners advice... none of it has worked for me. I just this morning had a long talk with my specialist and we looked at the Xrays together. My right shoulder joint has no cartledge left in it and thus it is bone on bone. I played a vicious game of racquetball for many years and of course climbing and other physical activities. I just wore out that joint and am in some pain most of the time and have very limited range of motion. Fortunately my left shoulder is fine, and my hips, legs and lower joints are fine even though I am as fat as a town dog.
I am living with it ... most likely will have to have a replacement somewhere along the line. One can try all the homeopathic stuff, chemicals, needles, etc you want but they only work for those with something left to work with... so.... beware people... throughout most of human existance people didn't live much past 40, so we didn't evolve to have good joints at 70 and, unless you do things in moderation, you can't expect to be as agile as you were back in your younger days. Take a look at Bridwells hands sometime! Arthritis can be genetic a lot of the time and thus maybe you will escape its ravages. However if you abuse your joints with constant stress then you can expect some bad outcomes later on. Getting old isn't for the weak!! Good luck folks!

Ice climber
Spokane, Washington
Jan 24, 2013 - 12:44pm PT
Hi John,

I read your reply with interest. Knowing you have a disciplined mind I wonder if you might share any insights you have gained over time with taking this supplement for arthritis. For instance is hyaluronic acid best taken ingested in tablet form? Is it best to take it on an empty stomach or with food? Is there a perferred dose per Kg of body mass to obtain benefits (some supplements, drugs, etc., must be used above a certain threshold for one to receive its beneficial effects)? Does time of day matter, i.e., for example is it best taken prior to going to bed? Sometimes such variables do not matter, but sometimes they do. I would appreciate any wisdom you might care to share.


Bob Loomis, Spokane, Washington

Mountain climber
San Diego, CA
Jan 24, 2013 - 01:15pm PT
Bruce! Great point about the lack of correlation between arthritis (as verified by radiographs) and pain. I often tell my patients about that, as a way to provide encouragement and hope that despite your x-rays showing degeneration, the pain is not "guaranteed for life".

But what you said about musculoskeletal pain in general is probably an over-estimation of the psychosocial aspects of pain. There is indeed much to be learned when looking at pain from a purely psychological perspective. But normal physiology does in fact 'permit' pain, it is definitely real, and it has very well-known neurological origins. Specifically the spinothalamic tract in the CNS, and in the nociceptive ("Type IV") nerve fibers which transmit pain (and incidentally, temperature sensation). But what you stated does touch upon some very important aspect of working in a clinical setting: proper orthopedic testing. This can include testing to determine if a person is a malingerer (faking) or if there is a psycho-somatic component of the pain that the person is experiencing. An example of this is "McBride's test".

Chiropractic is not a placebo treatment just like acupuncture is not a placebo treatment just like Celebrex is not a placebo treatment.


And I agree that anyone with pain ought to get an accurate diagnosis. Which could be equally well provided by any number of professionals: medical doctors versed in musculoskeletal conditions, orthopedic doctors, doctors of chiropractic, doctors of osteopathy, etc. The definition of "traditional" has changed to include all of the above, one reason being that we all work from the same book of diagnostic codes: the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

PS: Love your Castle Rock guide ;)

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Jan 24, 2013 - 01:27pm PT
Utilizing the power of a placebo cure, like a joint supplement or chiro session, can also work too.

I had an interesting experience with chiropractic in about 1995. It was certainly not placebo. I had been in a bad car crash which I was lucky to walk away from. Over the following weeks though it became apparent to me that I was not uninjured. I felt "crooked," developed back and neck pain and had trouble sleeping.

Finally I started seeing a local chiropractor, and after each visit I would feel better for a while but it would not last. Sensing my frustration, this chiro decided she was not doing me any good and she was kind enough to refer me to her "mentor," as she described him.

This guy was different. On my first visit he did almost nothing. He had me walk around in my shorts while he observed, and then he did some subtle massage and said to come back the next day. On this second (and last) visit he laid me out face up on the table, and walked around me gently laying his hands on me here and there. He was slow and gentle, and I became very relaxed. Then without any warning he performed a sudden almost violent adjustment to my entire upper body. It felt like he popped my entire rib cage like a bug. It was like he was a martial artist or something. Immediately after I got over the shock of it I began feeling better. Within a couple of days I was back to normal. This was a profound experience.

More recently I've seen a Chiro locally here in Monrovia who studied massage with Shiatsu in Japan. He has been very helpful, with his hands and body reading skills, to loosen up my left hip which was heading for trouble a couple years ago but now that I know how to maintain it is fine now.

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