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    mpieciak18's Avatar
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    Chronically weak joints - what can help?

    Primal Fuel
    Hello fellow Grokkers and Grokkettes. THIS IS A LOOOOONG READ. Please read though if you are interested in giving me advice.

    My name's Mark and I've been following MDA and the Primal Blueprint for about two years now. I've been on/off paleo for a year and a half, and decided to go all out paleo a few months (I'm about 90 or 95% due to cheating ). However, I started as a result of weight gain and joint injuries. My weight's stabilized, however my joints are still crap. I have loose ligaments in my wrists and shoulders, and very slightly arthritic finger joints, all due to overuse and/or poor technique while exercising. Let me give you a little run-down of my years.. I'm only 19, going to be 20 in November..

    From early childhood until age 13, I was overweight, even near-obese.

    I was completely inactive during my growth-spurt, so I was 200+ lbs and 5'7" at age 13.

    I lost 40lbs with the help of youthful hormones, CW, and hard-work. I biked 6 hours or more per week and reduced portion sizes.

    Age 14 to 16, I remained moderately active and ate whatever I wanted to.

    Age 16, I started to lift weights and eat like hell to gain weight. Gained muscle, hurt one of my RC/shoulders due to crappy bench technique.

    Post weight-lifting, I threw javelin for school, leaned out, and wore out my other RC/shoulder's ligaments due to crappy throwing technique.

    Months leading to age 17. Sprained my one wrist due to crappy lifting technique. "Worked through the pain" as I was told to do by my peers. Eventually stopped and took lots of Ibuprofen and stretched my wrists out like hell, as told I was told to do by my doctors. Took mountains of glucosamine, chondroiton, and MSM, which didn't help.

    Ages 17-18. Both wrists loosened, painful, and weak. Ankles and plantar fascia strained (now healed). Gained a little weight. Cannot even perform knee-pushups. Was told by an orthopedic doc that I might have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a genetic disease that screws up your bodies ability to produce strong collagen. I call bullshit as I've never been naturally flexible, and never had joint injuries before high school, even though I was very active as a heavy kid, pre-growth spurt.

    Age 18 plus a few months. Knee joints less stable due to quadriceps weakness/imbalance (now 90% better). Tried out prolotherapy for one wrist, and months later it improves by 50-60%. Thumb joints start to go wayside due to all the down-time being spent on Xbox (button-mashing anyone?). Got my first pair of Vibrams. Gained more weight.

    Age 19 'til now. College starts, absolutely hate it, stressed/depressed, paleo goes wayside, re-injured my knees/ankles from running and walking (now better, 90%). Other finger joints start to hurt from texting/writing/computer use/Xbox. Received more prolotherapy, on other wrist and thumb joints, helps wrist by 50%, thumbs aren't helped. Thumbs confirmed slightly arthritic. Confirmed to not have rheumatoid, lupus, gout, or lyme disease, and apparently my thyroid should be fine.

    Today, I am paleo/primal with a few cheats, I do some HIIT twice a week (sprints and elliptical), practice squats, work on mobility with the help of MWod, and sleep 7-8 hours a day. I am much less depressed, although I still have some stress. I try to get some sun exposure, and take a few supplements. I quit Xbox.

    I'm trying to set up a plan to help increase my body's ability to create collagen and/or heal. I soak in Epsom salts and take a low-dose multi, vit. D, and fish oil.. I also consume Camu Camu berry powder (for vit. C) and gelatin, in addition to the leafy greans, other veggies, meats, fish, eggs, nuts, and fruits. I take Camu and gelatin together because of the importance of vit. C, proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline in collagen production ( la Weston A. Price and Ray Peat). I also do a minor IF regimen, using a 8-9 hour window for feeding. I researched IF's effects on hGH levels, and can see how it might help in healing. Now, I'm considering doing one or two 24-hour fasts a week for the massive hGH burst, while making up most of the calories while breaking fast.

    Does anyone have any comments or advice? Is IF worth trying? I've been told that I worry too much and look too deeply into this, but no doctor is willing to help, aside for my prolotherapy doc, who is mighty mighty costly. I'm a damn child who has some joints that are equivalent of a 90 year old's joints. Something isn't right. This is the first time reaching to an online community for help, and I'm hoping for something useful.

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    Hi - it sounds to me like you have Ehlers-Danlos or joint hypermobility syndrome. I don't understand why you are calling BS on a diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos, unless that's down to having a mistrust of doctors, in which case I thoroughly sympathise.

    I have hypermobile joints, scoring 8 on the Beighton scale. I haven't been officially diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos yet and I don't fit any of the major classified types. I have the finger joint symptoms like you - my hands, wrists and ankles are the worst affected. I also have tennis elbow and pains in my knee joints when standing up quickly from a crouching position.

    If you worry too much that's another sign of Ehlers-Danlos, as it's associated with anxiety disorder.

    Anyway, welcome to the forum. I hope you find what you are looking for.
    F 5 ft 3. HW: 196 lbs. Primal SW (May 2011): 182 lbs (42% BF)... W June '12: 160 lbs (29% BF) (UK size 12, US size 8). GW: ~24% BF - have ditched the scales til I fit into a pair of UK size 10 bootcut jeans. Currently aligning towards 'The Perfect Health Diet' having swapped some fat for potatoes.

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    Pilates, Yoga (with a really well trained teacher), or physical therapy.

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    Good plan on quitting X-box. Have you continued the weight training that helped correct the muscle imbalance? You may need to do low intensity weight training to strengthen the muscles around your joints to help them function better. Do you have access to a balance board? Stand on it and throw a ball, it will build up all the little muscles in your ankles and can help with your knees. I would try presses to build the muscles around your shoulders. Not sure about your wrists. One major thing is to listen to your body and do NOT push through pain. If something gets sore, rest until it's better. Learn to differentiate injury soreness from muscle building soreness as well.

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    Hey guys, thanks for the replies. I appreciate every bit of discussion

    Paleo-bunny, in my post, I said that I've never been flexible or hypermobile before in my life. No one in my family, extended family, or recent ancestry has any joint issues or EDS. Any injury I have gotten has been a result of overuse or poor movement. Thus, the joints become weakened. I wouldn't say I have hypermobility, just certain joints that are lax. For example, I can't flex or extend my wrist/hand that deeply anymore, because of the prolotherapy and healing. I guess my shoulders are slightly hypermobile because my ligaments never healed properly. I've been tested for laxity in certain joints by my prolo doctor and his opinion was that I most likely don't have it. The joints that never healed are a little hypermobile. How is anxiety and EDS related???

    Zoebird, my opinion on Yoga is iffy, because I feel that mobility is important, but not flexibility. I do work on maintaining mobility though. And same thing with PT.. a lot of exercises I received from PT has been counter-productive and stupid, but some served their purpose in stabilization, somewhat. Those exercises help strengthen muscles to stabilize the joint, but don't strengthen my ligaments unfortunately.

    Teach2183, thank you. Xbox is really just a waste of time and an addiction. But I'm still doing some corrective exercise to stabilize joints, and mobility, but exercise can only do so much for a damaged ligaments. It isn't a lot, as I am listening to my body when it's in pain. No, I don't have a balance board, but I do try some balancing exercises.

    Any other input, people???

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    The reality of yoga is that it's designed to develop flexibility through strength.

    Because most people (these days) are tight, people think it emphasizes flexibility. But, the actual construct of it is to create stability, and out of that, agility.

    If your teacher is well educated (consider an iyengar teacher in particular), then s/he will know how to handle what you have going on. Physical therapy is similar, btu the problem is that physical therapists give you exercises but don't "stick with you" over the long-haul like a yoga teacher does.

    One of my teachers (who works for me, and thereby I am -- to an extent -- her teacher) has hypermobility, three of my students have arthritis of various forms (which causes tension and compensatory flexibilities/weaknesses in their joints), and two others have major flexibility but lack the requisite strength to keep their bodies comfortable and balanced -- so their hypermobility in that over-flexibility is what is creating the pains that they experience.

    So, my job is to find the positions where the student has the greatest strength/stability, and work them there -- rather than gunning for a certain "flexibility" as people understand it.

    But if you're just going to shoot down anything that someone suggests, then there's really no point in posting your question, is there?

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    Also, once the ligaments are stretched, there's very little that you can do to un-stretch them. This is why I advocate *against* yin yoga (particularly yin yoga in a heated room) -- because it stretches ligaments. The only fix available is to create stability through muscle balance around the joints.

    In the alternative, you can go through multiple elective surgeries to have the ligaments cut, then sewn together. it's probably more painful than working with your limits -- learning what those are, and creating stability in your joints through your muscles.

    Because, as I said, there's little-to-nothing that you can do to "tighten" or "strengthen" ligaments.

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    I hear you on exercise only helping so much. I wrecked many of my joints in my late teens playing college soccer with the invincible mentality along with more=better. I overtrained box jumping and other hard on your ankles/knees and ended up with stress fractures in both shins that I then played through (um, stupid!) I also dislocated my right shoulder a few times and went back too early. But time and a healthy diet will also help you correct the damage you did. Stay away from wheat that promotes inflammation in your body as you are doing, consume coconut oil if you can as that is said to have some great healing properties. Be sure you are eating enough as well so your body takes the nutrition to heal itself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mpieciak18 View Post
    Paleo-bunny, in my post, I said that I've never been flexible or hypermobile before in my life. No one in my family, extended family, or recent ancestry has any joint issues or EDS. Any injury I have gotten has been a result of overuse or poor movement. Thus, the joints become weakened. I wouldn't say I have hypermobility, just certain joints that are lax. For example, I can't flex or extend my wrist/hand that deeply anymore, because of the prolotherapy and healing. I guess my shoulders are slightly hypermobile because my ligaments never healed properly. I've been tested for laxity in certain joints by my prolo doctor and his opinion was that I most likely don't have it. The joints that never healed are a little hypermobile. How is anxiety and EDS related???
    The reason why your symptoms didn't manifest earlier was due to your being inactive previously. You admit as much. So obviously your joint laxity symptoms would not have manifested.

    The causal mechanisms for increased anxiety and EDS have not been established yet, but a clear association has.
    F 5 ft 3. HW: 196 lbs. Primal SW (May 2011): 182 lbs (42% BF)... W June '12: 160 lbs (29% BF) (UK size 12, US size 8). GW: ~24% BF - have ditched the scales til I fit into a pair of UK size 10 bootcut jeans. Currently aligning towards 'The Perfect Health Diet' having swapped some fat for potatoes.

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    Sorry to appear to be refuting your statements, paleo-bunny, but I was active before my growth-spurt (overweight) and after i lost weight, without issue. Thus, I am very skeptical of the EDS diagnosis. I'm considering seeking out a doctor who would want to diagnose it based on a biopsy of my collagen, not mere observation. And wow, I never knew about that there was an association. Interesting stuff.

    Teach2183, yupp, feeling invincible is bad when you are exercising. I'll look into what you said about coconut oil.

    Zoebird, you're right, I did misconstrue overgeneralize the purpose of yoga then. I'll look into a bit then.. And yes, there isn't much to do with loose ligaments. Surgery, prolotherapy, stem cell therapy, or to an extent, corrective exercise.

    Thanks for the input guys.

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