My diagnosis of arthritis kinda came as blow this year, a testament to older age. What’s worse, when I asked my general practitioner for alternatives to over-the-counter pain meds, or specific foods that I could avoid that might alleviate pain, he had nothing.
While arthritis is a bummer, it’s not the end of the world. I learned recently at the Orthohealing Center in Wailuku that modern technology does have some tricks for pain sufferers where ligaments, joints and orthopedic medicine is concerned. The main drawback is that big pharmaceuticals don’t stand to make money, and insurance companies have yet to get on board.
One easy entry point into an alternative therapy is the Intelliskin products. Designed by Dr. Tim Brown, an Association of Surfing Professionals Tour chiropractor, they work on your posture while you are active, like running, working out at the gym, surfing or even just sitting in front of the computer. These products help you better support your frame. Intelliskin is made from a lycra-like material with stiffened supporting panels along the back.
“It produces an extension postural correction of the shoulders, elevating and extending them, placing the shoulder joint in an optimal position for lifting and rotating, and to maintain the correction one pulls down on the bottom of the back of the shirt to reset the tension when needed,” says Orthohealing’s Dr. Charles Soma. “It feels supportive and compresses your torso, is worn underneath a looser more absorbent shirt for modesty or appearance and is completely washable, no special care required.”
Soma says he wears his surfing, working out and some times just under his clothes. The men’s versions come in tank, crew and v-neck, and women’s options are v-neck and sports bra.
I tried the women’s bra out and thought it would be perfect for working out. It fits snugly and makes your shoulders want to go back and pull your back straight. I actually felt more pops and cracks in my back with the constant adjustment as I sat in front of the computer. The downside is that it’s warm, but for a sports bra it’s super-supportive, and if it can help me avoid injury and pain with better posture, then I’m all for it.
Common injuries like tennis elbow, heel pain, hamstring tears, tendinitis, and arthritis can also be helped by Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP). Here your blood is drawn, processed and then reinjected into you in the problem area, creating a slew of biochemical reactions that heal the injury.
t costs about $750 for one injection and $950 for up to three sites. While pricey, this can be less than the cost of a typical outpatient surgical operation, and it takes less recovery time.
“People have heard of alternative treatments in the sports media, like when Hines Ward of the Steelers had PRP before a Super Bowl outstanding performance a few years back, and they want to get better faster, too,” says Soma. “Every company says they support wellness initiatives but none have yet embraced PRP. For example, without what is termed ‘unbiased clinical study’ to support it, despite the innumerable testimonials of patients and physicians alike, patients must pay out of pocket for the entire charge, except the office visit charge, which is covered in all cases by insurance.”
Soma says the changes in the medical payment system threaten to destroy private practice of medicine in America, especially solo specialty practices like his. By providing cutting edge treatment to people more efficiently that traditional systems at the larger groups, he hopes “to stay relevant in the future care of people on Maui who are interested in an accurate orthopedic diagnosis, effective non surgical or non invasive care delivered by someone with experience, physical skill and capability to provide excellent outcomes from surgical treatment, and the judgment to tell which is indicated.”
One of the cutting edge non-surgical products the practice offers is advanced omega 3 and antioxidant supplements. “By chemically loading your body with anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids,” Soma says you can reduce joint inflammation and subsequently reduce risk of heart attack, strokes, blood clots, and wear and tear on organs.
The supplement the Orthohealing clinic offers is called Moxxor. Derived from New Zealand, it’s 75 times stronger than fish oil – with fewer indigestion side effects. Also available at his clinic is Protandim, a powerful antioxidant, and a medical food product made to be used throughout your life to prolong and improve performance and wellness of the body. It’s comprised of tumeric, green tea, milk thistle, Bacopa extract and Ashwagandha root. Gluten-, dairy- and gelatin-free, it’s easy to swallow.
“Pain medication has been the American answer to pain for one hundred years or more, since aspirin gained widespread use,” says Soma.”Opiates are responsible for a large number of catastrophic family and legal situations in Maui, and in our practice we try to lower the need for these drugs in our practice by using adjuvant medications neurontin, lyrica, and cymbalta, which are widely advertised in popular media as a pain relieving treatment for conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic regional pain syndrome.”