Relief from knee and ankle pain

I’ve been having trouble with knee and ankle pain for the past 3 years or so. Originally I thought it was gout, but now I’m not sure. What happens is the ball of my foot or my ankle gets sore. Within a day my foot is swollen so badly I can barely get my shoe on. It hurts like hell to walk on, then not being able to walk right puts extra pressure on my knee so that gets sore and starts to swell. Even taking with taking NSAI medication the flair up can last a week or longer.

My last flair up was about 2 months ago. This time was different… even after I was back to normal, my left ankle still felt stiff. Going down stairs was a ‘one step at a time’ deal instead of just walking down normally. My walking speed was a lot slower than I’m used to, and my legs would get sore if I walked any significant distance. This really sucked because I really like walking and hiking with my wife and kids.

I did some reading and found one way to help weak joints is to make the supporting muscles stronger. I’ve never been much into physical fitness but I knew I needed to do something. I’m only 55 and I don’t want to be all crippled up before I’m 60. One of my friends said to look at the Stronglifts 5×5 program. It looked like something I could do and it’s free. I hate going to gym so I convinced my wife to let me get my own weights. I bought a York Barbel set, a Rep Fitness PR-1000 rack, and a cheap trap bar from Amazon.

Knee and ankle pain: going, going…

When I started, I was afraid of doing squats because of my knees. Also, the barbell rows were hard on my back. So instead of doing squats 3 days a week I did deadlifts and curls. On even days I did bench presses and odd days are overhead presses.

After about 2 weeks something funny happened. I walked downstairs one morning and when I got to the bottom something hit me. I’d just walked down the stairs normally for the first time in over a month? I hadn’t even thought about it. Just to make sure I went back upstairs and came down again. Sure enough, just walked down normally. Knee and ankle pain are… gone? Not completely, but at least I can make it down a set of stairs now.

Since my ankle seemed better, I decided to try some squats. To my amazement, I was able to do a complete 5×5 set. Sure I wasn’t loaded heavy, but still… After a month of doing the weight thing, I decided to take a test walk. We went on 1 .2 mile loop hike. About half the trail in on a fairly steep hill. Going up I took a wrong turn so to get to the top we ended up climbing a steep rock pile. I didn’t have any problems keeping up with my teenager. And afterwards, no knee and ankle pain. I was pretty stoked.

Can you get stronger after 50?

I’ve only been doing this for 5 weeks now and I already see big improvements in getting around. My knee and ankle stiffness isn’t completely gone but they’re much better than they were just a month ago. I’m also walking faster, even though not quite as fast as I could a few years ago. I’m improving though. What really surprised me was how fast things are getting better. I’ve read a lot about how hard it is to get in shape if you’re over 40. Or how it’s damn near impossible to gain strength after you’re 50. That you need special supplements, a high priced exercise program, or blah blah blah…

I’m 55 and I’ve seen a very nice improvement in just 5 weeks. I didn’t sign up with a gym (did I mention that I hate going to gyms?). No expensive personal trainer. I don’t take expensive supplements. To tell the truth, I know I need to change my eating habits but I haven’t even done that yet.

So what’s all this have to do with being a Backyardsman? Well, I can go hiking with my kids again. I’m probably putting off by years the day when I won’t be able to do that any more. I have more energy to get things done. I’m not trying to sell you anything, just trying to encourage you. If you can’t get out and about as much as you’d like, consider doing strength training. Even if you’re someone like me who has zero interest in body building. I don’t have bigger muscles but the other benefits have been awesome for me.

Credit where credit is due:

I probably never would have tried this if not for the constant harping on the importance of physical fitness at mountainguerrilla

A really good (and free) program to try is Stronglifts 5×5

Until next time…

Peace out,

Flu vaccine – Stupid is as Stupid does (or doesn’t)

flu-vaccine I had an interesting past two days. On Tuesday, my son had a high fever, sore throat, and chills so my wife kept him home from school and took him to urgent care. He tested negative for flu (more on that in a bit) and strep. They recommended ibuprofen for the fever and lots of water. She gave him ibuprofen and the fever came down. By Tuesday night he was fever free but vomiting. Yesterday, he couldn’t hold down food or water. When he wasn’t vomiting he was dry heaving. I took him back to urgent care. The gave him some meds to try and get his stomach settled down. We were there for about 3 hours and they couldn’t do anything for him. The medical technician was worried about dehydration since he hadn’t drank all day so he had us take him to ER.

Emergency Room (ER) vs. Urgent Care

We got him to ER around 8:00 pm it was a madhouse. I never realized how many people get sick at the same time. They checked him in right away and checked his vitals. Then we waited for a room. Finally they put us in a room at 11:00 pm. The doctor came in about 11:30. He had my son’s blood sugar level checked and tested again for flu. Turns out the hospital uses a flu test that’s 100% accurate. The test used at urgent care is only 70% accurate. It took a little over an hour to get the results back. My son did have the flu, Influenza B which is the same strain they’re vaccinating for this year. In other words, if we’d gotten our son a flu vaccine this year he wouldn’t have gotten the flu.

In the mean time they’d been treating him for nausea. By 1:00 am he could keep water down so we didn’t have to worry about dehydration. The doctor told us he was healthy enough to go home. By the time we finished up it was about 1:30 when we left the hospital.

I’ve never been big on getting a flu vaccine

I’ve never been big on getting flu vaccines for myself or my family. It seems like for awhile the only years I got the flu were the same years I got a flu shot. I have some close relatives that are always going on about how harmful flu shots really are. I never bought into the idea that flu shots were intentionally harmful, but the controversy kind of justified me not getting them. Well, in my mind at least…

Next year we’ll probably get flu vaccines. I didn’t like seeing my son suffer like he had to over the past couple of days. I’m sure I’m not going to like the ER bill when it gets here. And I keep hearing the words from the nurse:

If he’d gotten a flu shot this year, he wouldn’t have the flu right now.

OK. So next year, we’ll probably all (my family) get flu shots. I want to research it some more before I decide for sure. In the mean time, I’m looking into natural ways to boost our immune systems. That should help us to maybe not get the flu even if we don’t get flu shots. If we do get the flu, maybe it will help make the symptoms less severe. At least I hope. After all, the most important prep is to stay healthy…

Peace out,

What did you do to prep this week?

This week’s preps – Jan 30 2018

Another day late and a dollar short. OK, two days late… or two weeks… Well, it’s not like I haven’t been prepping for the last two weeks, it’s just that I haven’t done any thing. Or at least done much…

But, what I did do is start dieting. Not a real diet, just a change in what I put in my pie hole. Lots less carbs, more meat and veggies. I’m also drinking smoothies every night. Organic yogurt, celery, wheat grass, frozen cherries, frozen blueberries, almond milk, and a little bit of honey. Tasty. I also started working out to the program in Convict Conditioning. I also started taking prescription level doses of vitamin D. For the past two weeks I’ve been rucking around my neighborhood. Not just on hump day either… I joined the gym at work yesterday. Today I bought two 30 lb dumbells at Walmart and started working my arms and shoulders. I’m kind of sore right now but it’s a good kind of sore.

All this is because two weeks ago my left ankle started acting up again. I got a new doctor who is very aggressive about finding out what’s wrong. She ordered a complete blood panel, including testing my uric acid level. The great news is my uric acid levels are well below what would cause gout. (See honey? I told you it wasn’t gout.) The good news is my cholesterol levels are almost normal in spite of being over weight and NOT taking my prescription cholesterol medicine for over a year now. My doctor said I can probably get it well into the normal range with just exercise and a fish oil supplement. The bad news is my liver enzymes are high and my vitamin D levels are low. Hence the no more beer, wheat grass smoothies, and prescription vitamin D. Oh, and my left ankle and knee still flair up too often (even though it’s NOT gout) so I’m working on leg strength and losing weight.

Besides that, I bought Forging the Hero for one of my friends and started some winter lettuce.

What did you do to prep this week?

Peace out,

Almost back to normal…

Well, finally. The bad part of getting old is having health problems. I guess the good part is waking up and realizing you need to start taking care of yourself. So that’s what I’m doing. I think I’m 95% over my gout attack. Hope I don’t have another one any time soon as they’re really not pleasant.

The down time did give me a lot of time to think though, which is a good thing. So lets see… we had 2 major hurricanes in the past month, a bunch of crybaby millionaires are protesting I don’t know what, and the fat little bitch running North Korea is threatening nuclear war. All are credible threats to our Republic. So what should we worry about?

In my opinion, nothing new. There are always credible threats so just stick to the basics. It doesn’t matter why SHTF so don’t worry about the why. Prepare for the what.

No matter what, you need food, water, shelter, and the means to defend those. I can’t control why or when SHTF and probably neither can you. I can control how I react to SHTF and what I have to help me deal with it. I’m guessing you can too. Today one of my prepper coworkers was crowing about his faraday bags and how he was right about the coming EMP. You know, the one that’s going to wipe out 90% of our population?

Will it happen? Maybe. I can’t control it. If it does I plan on being in the 10% that doesn’t get killed off. Basics. Food. Water. Shelter. The means to defend.

What about gout treatment?

what about gout treatmentFor the past few years I’ve had occasional gout attacks. Usually only a couple times a year, but in the past 2 months I’ve had 3 gout attacks. If you’ve never had the “pleasure” of a gout attack, let me just say it’s impossible to do just about anything except sit on your butt during the gout attack. Obviously not a good place to be during a situation where you need to me moving and moving fast. So what about gout treatment? I’m not a doctor and there is lots of good information online. I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert telling you how to treat gout. Instead I just want to talk about my experiences with gout. What causes it, symptom relief, and where to get more information on it.

So what the hell is gout?

Well, gout is hell. At least it feels like hell when you have it. It’s joint inflammation caused by urate crystals building up in the joint. The crystals build up because of high uric acid in your blood. The uric acid is the result of your body breaking down purines. That’s about as far as I want to go, for a more detailed explanation click here. What’s important is the result. The joint hurts like hell, you can’t bend it, and if it’s a foot joint (most likely your big toe or ankle) you’ll have trouble walking. Wait though, sometimes it gets even worse…

If you have gout in one foot, you’re going to favor the opposite foot and leg (especially the knee) when walking. This puts lots of extra stress on the other leg, so guess what happens? The extra stress on the joints in the opposite foot can cause a gout flare up in that foot. Or, if you have a bad knee, that can go out too. If that happens, you can’t bend your knee so no driving to the store for simple things. Like pain medicine. Which is OK, because pain medicine doesn’t do much to relieve the pain from gout. So can gout be prevented or treated?

Related link: What causes gout?

Can you prevent gout?

In my opinion, no. Of course, some experts disagree with my opinion and they’re probably correct. Supposedly avoiding certain foods that are high in purines (meat, seafood) and alcohol (especially beer) can help prevent gout. Great… my 2 favorite food groups are the cause of grout. In my experience, that’s not necessarily true.

Yes, I’ve had gout attacks while eating meat. But I eat meat (and seafood) all the time. If that caused gout, I think I’d have attacks more often. The same with drinking. I’ve had gout attacks during periods where I was drinking pretty heavily, but I’ve also had them during times I wasn’t drinking at all. Sometimes when I have a gout attack I stop drinking, other times I don’t. It doesn’t seem to make any difference in how long the attack lasts.

Some doctors recommend taking medicine that lowers your uric acid levels, but from my reading, and talking to people who’ve taken them, I’m not going to. They can cause long term health problems that are worse than gout.

In my opinion, once you have gout, you have it and there is no “cure.” That doesn’t mean you’re in constant, every day, 24/7 excrutiating pain, but the potential for an attack is with you for the rest of your life. Making lifestyle changes can probably decrease the frequency of gout attacks though.

What about gout treatment?

Even though you can’t treat gout, there are things you can do to help with a gout attack. Try Googling ‘what about treating gout’ and you’ll get lots of hits with lots of different opinions. This is what works for me:

Anti-pain cream: I’ve tried lots of different anti-pain cream to try and treat my gout. In my experience, none of them work – AT ALL. Well, there is one exception. A product called Austrailian Dreams seems to provide some relief. Not a lot, but when you’re talking about gout pain, every little bit helps. Australian Dreams is available at most drug stores (well, at least CVS and Walmart pharmacies), but it’s expensive – about $30 for a 4 oz. jar.

OTC pain pills: I’ve tried several ibuprofin and acetaminophen. Neither do much good. I even had some prescription 800 mg. ibuprofin pills that didn’t make a dent in the pain.

Staying off it: This actually works pretty good. I’ve found that if I try to hobble around my gout attacks last as much as twice as long. If I can stay home (and avoid walking to the mail box, garage, refrigerator, up and down the stairs, etc.) the pain is less intense and goes away faster. Also less risk of blowing out my knee or having a secondary attack in the opposite foot.

Natural remedies: I’m not a big believer in natural remedies. I’m not opposed to them, I just don’t believe they work. Well, maybe except with gout. My wife said that goji berries are helpful. A friend at work (who has gout) says sour cherries can provide some relief. Other things I’ve read about that can help are raw organic honey, skim milk, yogurt (???), and tumeric. So for may latest gout attack I started drinking smoothies.

I use 60 dried gogi berries and boil them in about a cup of water until they’re soft. I throw them in my Vitamix with a handful of frozen sour cherries, half a cup of skim milk, a couple tablespoons of yogurt, and honey to taste. After blending it, I use it to wash down a tumeric tablet. I do this twice a day, plus take an extra tumeric tablet during the day and another just before I sleep. And you know what? It seems like it worked. My attack only lasted 3 days and the pain was less intense than earlier attack.  How about that natural gout treatment?

More to come…

This is getting longer than I usually like to go. I wanted to get into gout and how it could affect the backwoodsman (or backyardsman), but I think I’ll continue that in another post.

Peace out,