Body Heat: Expert Advice on Cooling Down Inflammation

After four decades of working on her feet during up to 12-hour shifts – often on unforgiving concrete floors, registered nurse Anne Paull could no longer ignore the pain that had developed in her right hip. “Putting weight on my right leg was excruciating; it would often take my breath away and affect my balance,” the 63-year-old Toms River resident said of the discomfort she experienced throughout 2013. “During the height of my pain, I was caring for my elderly mother and I always prayed I wouldn’t drop her,” she added. Eventually diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis in her right hip, her doctor recommended a hip replacement.

“But I couldn’t be out of commission for my mom,” she said, or for ailing sister later that year,”so I just ignored the pain and tried to work through it,” a routine that came to include Paull’s frequent us of Tylenol, reliance on kitchen tables, door frames and other surfaces to help stabilize herself, and even the use of her mother’s walker at times. “My hip pain was killing me, and I didn’t do a lot of social things with friends during that time because it was so difficult.”

More than joint pain
According to Dr. Tauro, an orthopedic surgeon at Ocean County Sports Medicine in Toms River and Jackson and Paull’s doctor, “inflammation is a cellular response by the body;s immune system against what it perceives as a foreign invader that it needs to attack; the chemicals it releases to fight the intruder are what cause inflammation,” he said.

“These foreign invaders can include allergens like pollen or specific foods such as those high in saturated fats, sugar, or refined flour, and can result in such responses as allergies, gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s Disease or colitis, or classi cauto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, where the body recognizes its own tissue – in this case, the cells lining the joint – as foreign and attacks them, triggering inflammation, so arthritis refers to inflammation of the joints and can have causes,” Tauro said.

“The most common is degenerative arthritis, which is a function of normal wear and tear on our joints and the diminishing ability of their lining to self-repair as we age. Arthritis tends to run in families, so there’s also a genetic component to the condition.

“But other drivers, particularly for younger individuals, can include repetitive or sports-related aggravators (such as what a baseball pitcher might experience), falls, car accidents, or other traumatic injuries,” Tauro said.

Regardless of its source, the resultant joint pain, stiffness and swelling that patients often describe as ‘throbbing,’ ‘burning,’ or ‘stabbing’ can be significantly reduce functionality, impairing one’s ability to walk, work, or undertake even the most basic activities of daily living, he added.

Treatment on many fronts
To address arthritis, Tauro begins by recommending dietary and lifestyle changes.
“Certain foods are known to cause inflammation, such as friend or processed items containing saturated fat or refined carbohydrates, while other foods are highly anti-inflammatory, including whole grains, leafy greens or vegetables containing vitamin E, such as kale, spinach and broccoli and foods high in beneficial omega-3 fats, such as salmon and almonds,” he said.

“We also encourage people to control their weight, because the force on the joints extremities is four to five times your weight, because

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