Archive for the ‘Joints’ Category

Tips on a Locked Knee due to Meniscus Tear

Posted on: January 25th, 2015 by Richard Malik No Comments

A locked knee due to meniscus tear can be terribly painful and difficult to deal with. Trust me, I know. I have some looseness of my left knee from a sports injury that happened almost 25 years ago that has left me with a torn meniscus. Through an active lifestyle and sometimes strenuous physical activity (including running a half-marathon and intense hiking in the Rocky Mountains) it is often not a problem, but last weekend my knee locked up – I could not straighten it past 45º.

It is sadly funny that in spite of my active lifestyle, I felt my meniscus slip and my knee locked not while doing not much of anything at all; I was trying to meditate in a full lotus position. I knew I was in trouble when I tried to straighten my leg and I could only get it to a right angle. I was on the floor on a yoga mat and I could not get my self up onto a couch or a chair even though they were only a foot or two away. I was on my own because I knew that I would be home alone for at least 45 minutes. Fortunately, the knee was not painful and I could bend it all the way – I was surprised that I could sit on my knees on the yoga mat.

While waiting for my wife to come home and help me, I grabbed my computer (it was within arms reach) and tried to find on the internet how to unlock a knee with a torn and displaced meniscus. I found plenty of advice on the necessity to have arthroscopic surgery for a locked knee, but I could not find any advice on what to do to improve my knee before making an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon or going to the emergency department.

So, without Google’s help, I discovered several things that were very helpful to first unlock my knee and then help it feel better quickly before going to the orthopedic doctor.

  1. Let the lower leg of the affected knee hang while sitting on a tall chair like a bar stool for as long as you comfortably can (30 to 60 minutes at a time worked well for me). Spacing or distraction of the affected joint creates space for the impinging meniscus fragment to return to its normal position.
  2. Apply cold to the knee joint to prevent inflammation that can occur with a displaced or torn meniscus. 10 to 20 minutes of cold application per hour is adequate. A cold wet compress will be more penetrating and effective than an ice pack.  The application of cold will help to reduce inflammation in the joint that can cause pain and restricted range of motion.
  3. Apply heat to the muscles of the lower leg (calf) and upper leg (thigh) to encourage the muscles to relax and allow spacing in the knee joint, reduce pain from muscle spasm, and increase range of motion. CAUTION: apply heat ONLY to the muscles of the calf and the thigh. DO NOT APPLY HEAT TO THE INJURED KNEE until 72 hours have passed.
  4. Starting 72 hours after the injury, use contrast hydrotherapy to decrease the pain and improve the range of motion. Contrast hydrotherapy is the application of heat, then cold to an injury. Any form of heat is fine as long as it is safe for you. I used a sauna set to 175ºF for 30 minutes, then submerged the entire affected leg for 3 to 4 minutes in a bathtub filled with cold water. CAUTION: if heat is applied too soon to the injured tissue, it will increase swelling, cause more pain, and slow your recovery. You MUST wait 72 hours after an injury before considering applying heat to the injured tissue.

I am very happy with the improvement I have seen from implementing these steps. I hope they support others as well.

Be Well,

Richard Malik, ND

Naturopathic Doctor in Salisbury, CT

Naturopathic Doctor in Manchester Center, VT



Podcast On Lyme Disease

Posted on: May 20th, 2009 by doctor No Comments

Lyme disease is an infection with a tick borne bacteria called Borrelia that can cause an expanding bull’s eye rash, fever, joint inflammation and pain, neurological problems, and other symptoms.  In this podcast, you can learn just about everything you need to know about the prevention, transmission, and treatment (including effective natural therapies) of Lyme disease. 

You can listen to it in iTunes or in your web browser. Enjoy.

Be well,

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Treatments for Knee Osteoarthritis: Arthroscopic Surgery Ineffective

Posted on: March 2nd, 2009 by doctor No Comments

A Canadian research study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis (AKA degenerative arthritis) of the knee is not effective.  Based on this study, physical therapy and medical treatments alone are just as effective as these therapies combined with surgery; surgery provides no additional benefit.

These results follow an earlier Cochrane Review with similar findings: “There is gold-level evidence that arthroscopic debridement has no benefit for undiscriminated osteoarthritis (mechanical or inflammatory causes).”

Are there natural therapies that are effective?  Yes.

The natural therapies with the best scientific research showing efficacy for osteoarthrits according to Natural Standard are Glucosamine Sulfate and Chondroitin Sulfate.  Many people find benefit from 750mg glucosamine twice daily combined with 600mg chondroitin twice daily.  A reasonable amount of time to try this therapy to see if it works for you is 2 or 3 months.  If you notice a difference, keep taking it.  If not, you should try something else.

Some patients find great benefit from taking fish oil in large amounts (one to three or more teaspoons daily).  While others find benefit from boswellia serrata extract, curcuminoids from turmeric, bromelain, zinc (30mg per day), and vitamin C (1,000 to 2,000mg per day).  All of these treatments from glucosamine to zinc can be used in combination.

To find the highest quality and most effective supplements available, please visit my Holistic Pharmacy.

Be Well,


Hypothyroidism: Many Symptoms, One Disease

Posted on: January 1st, 2009 by doctor No Comments

If you have been experiencing persistent fatigue or sadness, it may be more complicated than simply shifting your attitude or pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.  Fatigue and depression (and many other problems) may be signs of a physical medical condition: hypothyroidism – a decrease in the function of the thyroid gland that results in lower levels of thyroid hormone throughout the body.  It may even be possible to have low thyroid function while blood test interpretations say that all is normal.

Thyroid hormone is produced by the thyroid gland; a subtle butterfly shaped gland found in the neck below the Adam’s apple and on either side of the trachea.  Thyroid hormone is important to many parts of the body.  It sends a message to cells in the body to increase activity, function, and energy consumption.  The more thyroid hormone that is present, the faster body systems and organs will run.  It is possible to have too much (hyperthyroidism) or too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism).

Effects of Low Thyroid Function:

The symptoms of low thyroid function are diverse and vary considerably from person to person.  The manifestations of hypothyroidism can be vague or subtle, slowly getting worse over months or years.  Patients with hypothyroidism often experience some of the following symptoms: fatigue, depression, poor memory, unclear thinking, low body temperature, cold hands and feet, sensitivity to cold, dry skin, constipation, frequent infections, weight gain, premenstrual syndrome, or hoarseness.

Having hypothyroidism is also associated with several medical conditions; low thyroid function can cause or contribute to infertility, menstrual irregularities, elevated cholesterol levels, atherosclerosis, heart disease, anemia, and carpel tunnel syndrome.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

Thyroid function is first assessed by checking a hormone that tells the thyroid gland to make more hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH.  Elevated TSH levels are a sign of low thyroid function while low TSH levels are indicative of hyperthyroidism.

The predominant medical view is that in the absence of elevated TSH, hypothyroidism cannot be diagnosed.  However, the possibility of hypothyroidism that is not detected by current lab tests and current standards does exist.  The standards for normal thyroid function have changed over the years and some endocrinologists believe that current standards miss many patients suffering from low thyroid function.  

The easiest treatment for hypothyroidism is supplementation with synthetic or animal derived thyroid hormone.  Improvement in symptoms usually takes as little as a few days or as long as six months.  However, excessive thyroid hormone replacement can cause high levels of thyroid in the body – hyperthyroidism – and result in anxiety, insomnia, palpitations, chest tightness, diarrhea, and osteoporosis.  So, thyroid hormone should be used carefully and with medical supervision – appropriate diagnosis and monitoring are important.

Addressing the Cause:

Iodine used to be a common cause of hypothyroidism.  Today, in our society iodine deficiency is rare.  Conversely, very high doses of iodine can cause hypothyroidism in as short as a few weeks and long term high daily intake seems to increase the risk of hypothyroidism over the years.

In today’s medical practice, hypothyroidism is most commonly caused by one of two issues: 1) an auto-immune attack on the thyroid gland; or 2) the thyroid gland puttering out – not functioning as well as is should or used to.  In either case, supplementation with thyroid hormone is helpful.

While the medical literature states that the causes of both types of hypothyroidism are unknown, there are numerous drugs and chemicals that are definitively known to cause auto-immunity or to hamper thyroid function.  Some of these substances include: food coloring; mercury; numerous solvents; and even some prescription drugs.  Some chemicals contribute to low thyroid hormone levels by increasing the liver’s breakdown of thyroid hormone.

Avoidance of these harmful substances and enhancing the body’s ability to get rid of them can be helpful.  Selenium (200 mcg daily); zinc (15 mg daily); iron (18 mg daily in absence of high iron levels); and the amino acid cysteine help the body make thyroid hormone and convert it to its most active form.  Cysteine is also important anti-oxidant that helps the body handle toxic chemicals and heavy metals.

Other supportive natural therapies include the far eastern Indian herbs ashwaganda and bacopa which support thyroid function and the action of thyroid hormone throughout the body.  Some patients benefit from supplementation with food grade thyroid gland products that supplement thyroid hormone levels.

While hypothyroidism can sneak up on people, accurate diagnosis and treatment often helps to relieve the symptoms and provides dramatic improvement quality of life.

Food as Medicine: Sardines are Beautiful

Posted on: November 3rd, 2008 by doctor No Comments

Introducing sardines into the diet is an excellent way to decrease inflammation and the risk of heart disease and stroke. Omega-3 sssential fatty acids like EPA and DHA are important components of the cell membranes of all cells in the human body; they are found in abundance in sardines – 2,000mg per 4 ounce per can. They play a critical role in preventing inflammation; improving skin health and immune function; and neurological function.

My favorite is skinless sardines that are canned in water and are produced by Crown Prince. My local health food stores carry them or you can get them through Mix this with olive oil, dill, cumin, salt, pepper, chopped cucumber, and chopped celery and it makes a healthy tuna salad replacement that is safe for women of child-bearing age and young children.

Sardines are low in toxins because they are low on the food chain (the higher up the food chain you go the more concentrated toxins get) and they also contain plenty of protein, calcium, and iron in addition to the EPA and DHA fatty acids. Talk about food as medicine!

You have a choice:


Be Well,

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