Case study: Morning stiffness

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

Debbie is a 43 year old lady who came to see me for help with aches and pains and morning stiffness. Debbie had seen me several years ago. Back then she needed help with weight loss and getting sugar cravings under control. She did manage to lose 12 kilos and she kept most of it off.

Debbie had recently regained some weight. She wasn’t able to exercise at her usual intensity, and she felt quite depressed about that, which led to snacking on sugary treats. Debbie isn’t a coeliac, but avoids gluten because it causes abdominal bloating and gas. Although recently Debbie has had irritable bowel symptoms. She attributes it to the gluten free biscuits she’s been snacking on. Debbie works from home, which makes it challenging for her to stick to a healthy eating plan and structured meal times.

The aches and pains and stiffness in the morning are new symptoms for Debbie that just started a couple of months ago. I wasn’t surprised that she had started to experience irritable bowel syndrome, as gut problems (particularly bacterial overgrowth) are associated with joint and muscle problems in a lot of people.

Debbie said to me “I hobble out of bed like an 85 year old. It takes me 20 minutes of moving around before I can start to walk normally.  A hot shower really helps”. Throughout the day Debbie experiences mild pain in her knees and elbows. Her mother and aunt suffered with osteoarthritis, and Debbie’s sister has fibromyalgia. She was concerned that the pain she experienced in her body would be permanent.

My recommendations for my patient

  • Firstly, I asked Debbie to clean up her diet. I asked her to have three proper meals each day, rather than nibbling all day on processed high carb snacks. She cooked proper meals for her husband and children but didn’t eat that way herself. I asked Debbie to base her diet on protein, vegetables and natural fats. This meant she would be avoiding grains, sugar and dairy products. Those foods can raise inflammation in the body, and a genetically susceptible individual can then suffer with joint pain.
  • Raw vegetable juices are cleansing and detoxifying. They help to reduce inflammation and can provide symptom relief in a relatively short period of time. I asked Debbie to have one glass per day, making sure to include celery, as it reduces uric acid levels. I asked her to add one scoop of Ultimate Superfood powder because the superfoods and greens would further reduce inflammation. On days Debbie didn’t have time to make a juice, she just stirred the powder into a glass of water.
  • MSM is a natural form of sulphur. Sulphur is required for healthy connective tissue and healthy joints. It can help provide pain relief from mild arthritis. MSM is found in Collagen Food powder.
  • Exercise is important for improving mobility, joint flexibility, and it reduces inflammation in the body. A lot of weight bearing exercises weren’t appropriate for Debbie because they aggravated her knees. Pilates is a more appropriate form of exercise at the moment, and there are so many exercises that wouldn’t hurt her knees. I recommended the free workout videos on the website to Debbie.
  • When I looked at her blood test results, Debbie’s vitamin D level was low. It would only get lower now that winter is here. I asked her to take a good quality vitamin D supplement to boost her levels.

I look forward to seeing Debbie again in 5 weeks.

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