My wife has cartilage damage in her right shoulder with some swelling in the arm. Her primary care physician told her that the only way to repair it is with surgery. Is there any other option besides surgery? Natural remedies, acupunture, etc?
Musculoskeletal injuries such as a torn or degraded cartilage can be a debilitating condition if left unaddressed. Cartilage is the soft tissue padding which is present between all joint and bones and acts like a shock absorber. Understandably cartilage experiences a lot of wear, tear and damage over time. The cartilage is essentially avascular (has no blood or nerve supply) and is therefore quite a difficult area to heal. Long term therapy is essential in ensuring healthy repair so that further complications are not experienced in the future.
Acupuncture for musculoskeletal pain
In regards to acupuncture many people find that this modality gives good results, this is because acupuncture is able to relieve and move the inflammation away from the site of damage and improve the circulation to the area, thereby improving the natural healing abilities. However, having an acupuncture session while the shoulder is experiencing acute exacerbations of pain is not recommended. I suggest waiting until the inflammation settles down as acupuncture may exacerbate the immediate symptoms of pain (although it would still be of benefit).
Diet tips for pain and inflammation
- Ensure adequate hydration as low water consumption can cause the cartilage to become dry and may contribute to further degrading of the cartilage material
- Increase essential fatty acid intake in the diet to help reduce inflammation. Foods which are high in anti-inflammatory action are fish oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados
Lifestyle factors for pain and inflammation
- Manage pain in the short term using the RICE techniqui (rest, ice, compression and elevation)
- Be sure that the site of injury is healed before doing strenuous exercise
- Keep moving with gentle exercise
Natural remedies for pain and inflammation
- The Chinese medicine herb Tienci Ginseng is an herb traditionally used to invigorate the blood and to assist in the dispersal of stagnant blood and the resoluation of inflammation, bleeding, trauma, swelling and pain
- Magnesium is needed to relieve muscle aches, pains and spasms. Many people are deficient in this important mineral for the nerve and muscles as it declines rapidly due to stress
- Fish oil contains potent anti-inflammatory constituents to help reduce pain, inflammation and swelling and may also increase circulation to the site of injury
- Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) powder may be of assistance in reducing pain and inflammation and improve the formation of cartilage and reduce wear and tear on the joint
- Topical application of warming and circulatory stimulant gels or creams may give some pain relief. A cream which contains natural anti-inflammatory herbs and applied at least 3-4 times each day
- Herbs which have a direct anti-inflammatory effect on the musculo-skeletal system and may be taken internally are: White willow bark, Boswellia, Ginger, Turmeric, Cayenne, Eucommia, Acanthopanax and Devils Claw
- Reduce free radicals with Zinc, Vitamin C, B Vitamins, Vitamin A & E, CoEnzyme Q10 and Selenium to reduce the amount of damage to the cartilage
- Glucosamine & Chondroitin are important nutrients to reduce further destruction of the cartilage and to encourage joint repair and to reduce inflammation, pain and joint mobility