• I wanted to share with you my husband’s spinal story and how living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle has kept his inflammation at bay and eliminated his cartilage and joint dysfunction. It’s pretty amazing and hopefully will encourage you that supporting a health inflammatory response in your body can help any form of discomfort and in this case cartilage and joint function.

    Be sure not to miss our detailed natural solutions as you read the entire post!


    My husband Steve played many contact sports in his lifetime – tackle football, hockey, rugby, and more. He also loved and still loves to mountain bike and ride his dirt bikes in the desert. Actually that is one of our favorite past times together. For pretty much his entire lifetime he was involved in one or more of these activities that slowly, over time, degraded the integrity of his spine. Couple that with the American diet, college year damage to the body and various medicines, he was a prime candidate for having some sort of chronic discomfort issue. For him it specifically manifested in his spine.

    Acute Back Discomfort

    In 2010, after 5 years of suffering from lower back discomfort and sciatica, he had a Microlumbar Discectomy in his L4/L5 region. Thankfully we had one of the top neurosurgeons in the country (who has been on Oprah for a neurosurgery miracle surgery) operate on him. The surgery was successful and although his back was tender for a time due to healing, the actual 8mm disc bulge was gone and not pressing on the nerve anymore. The surgery took away the nerve pain and the problem causing it. In my opinion, an acute problem like this is where Western Medicine shines.

    Throughout the process of x-rays, MRI’s and therapy leading up to that surgery he also was told by his neurosurgeon, chiropractor and orthopedic surgeon that he has cartilage and joint dysfunction all up and down his spine as well as some other discs that were degenerating so be prepared for more problems (or surgeries in the future.) This was why even after his surgery his back still ached sometimes worse than others. Even the weather affected how his back felt and his mobility. The acute, sharp discomfort was gone but the other discomfort was still there.

    All this was happening as my autoimmunity was getting worse (because I was following Western Medicine that never treated the cause only the symptom) and we still didn’t understand the power of lifestyle and food had on the body and the myriad of symptoms I was experiencing. So, we continued on our normal (inflammatory) lives just hoping that he wouldn’t have to go through a surgery again- especially on his spine.

    Fast forward a year and a half after his lower back surgery and he started having neck discomfort! {Insert my sad and worried face} We were both so discouraged. Steve knows the difference in discomfort from a muscle verses a nerve discomfort. This time, instead of the numbing going down his leg into through his sciatic nerve causing his leg to drag, it was shooting down his arm numbing it and causing dysfunction there. After the usual rounds of x-rays and MRI’s we found out that this time he had a full disc collapse in his C-Spine. The only option at that point was a disc fusion in his neck. We had another top neurosurgeon (we had moved so we had to find a new one) who was an ex-navy seal, Ph.D and an excellent surgeon operate on Steve.

    *Note – if you have a bulge in a disc do not let an orthopedic surgeon tell you that you need a fusion. As from our experience and some experience of others we had talked to through this process a fusion is generally an ortho’s go-to. Instead, seek a neurosurgeons advice. Second opinions are important anyway especially in our medical community today. If we would have taken our first ortho surgeon’s advice, Steve would have had a fusion in his lower back too. With a full disc collapse a fusion is necessary. With a disc bulge that can be removed a fusion is not necessary – removal of the bulge is.

    His neck surgery was successful as well and we were grateful for the relief he could have through these surgeries.

    Steve after neck surgery

    Severe Cartilage and Joint Dysfunction

    A few days into Steve’s neck surgery recovery was my rock bottom health crisis. This was also the beginning of my starting to understand how inflammation affects the body in a profound way as well as how diet and lifestyle changes can literally bring a person back to life if the correct changes are made.

    Steve’s surgeries resolved the acute discomfort from the discs but did not resolve the discomfort from the degenerating cartilage and joint in his back. Although he did not have numbing and shooting pain anymore there were still dull aches and overall body fatigue along with weight that needed to be lost which was causing more pressure on his spine. Now, unbeknownst to me, God was going to use my health journey to help address Steve’s cartilage and joints issues.

    Natural Solutions

     

    Diet

    As the pieces of my life were being picked up after being so sick and I was changing my diet and lifestyle (went from eating GAPS diet for 7 months to eating Paleo without nuts) my family started to be positively changed by the new foods I was serving and the toxins I was getting rid of from our house. Once I got into my groove of feeding myself anti-inflammatory foods I was able to make our whole family the same meals.

    The changes in the debilitating discomfort Steve was experiencing were astounding and totally unexpected. We weren’t even trying to help his back at this point or my children with some of their health issues (skin, respiratory threats, suppressed immune systems, etc.) What happened though was pretty incredible.

    Over the course of a few months of Steve eating Paleo, he noticed that the daily discomfort in his back was gone. He would wake up in the mornings and feel refreshed without the normal bad feeling. He wasn’t even eating 100% Paleo either. Occasionally he would have regular pizza or something they brought into work like cookies or sandwiches at lunch and he still noticed a significant improvement in the aches he had in his core.

    He had seen my dramatic recovery from eliminating certain foods and toxins and now he was experiencing the same blessing. He became a believer in how important diet and lifestyle are for our bodies! When he started feeling better after having chronic discomfort for years, it was very motivating to stay on track. It has now been many years since he has had any chronic pain in his spine! Praise God!

     

    Supplements

    Along with changing his diet, I had been researching the benefits of many herbs and foods. Turmeric would come up a lot. As it should. It is an amazing root with fantastic healing properties. I had Steve start taking curcumin which is one of the anti-inflammatory properties in turmeric. However, while I was on the phone with my doctor Chris Kresser, he recommended a product called Theracurmin. This branded supplement is basically formulated into “nanoparticles” that are smaller particles and better absorbed into the body in order to reduce inflammation. Ever since then, we switched from plain curcumin to Theracurmin and haven’t looked back. He takes 1-2 a day to support a healthy inflammatory response.

    Steve also really needed good, clean (no hindering fillers) multivitamin and Omega 3’s in his diet because he was sorely lacking in some of these vital nutrients. Being deficient in even one vitamin or mineral can cause inflammation. Imagine when you are deficient in more than one! We put him on doTERRA Lifelong Vitality which we knew would support a healthy immune response as well. They help reduce oxidative stress, protect our cells, increase energy, support immune function and give our bodies whole food, fat and water soluble nutrients that it needs. They are in a liquid form which is more bioavailable to our bodies than tablet or powder capsule which was an added plus! He takes these everyday now and swears by them. He has noticed that these have even helped reduce anxiety which was an unexpected side benefit.

     

    doTERRA Essential Oils

    About a year after Steve’s neck surgery when we were implementing our new eating habits we also started learning about the power of essential oils for supporting a healthy inflammatory response, supporting our immune systems, keeping environmental threats at bay and being amazing at increasing overall health. In the very beginning months of changing our diet Steve was still reducing inflammation and would have occasional aches in his spine although not nearly as much as before his lifestyle started changing. More relief was found in two specific oil blends and one single oil: doTERRA Deep Blue, Aroma Touch Massage Blend and Wintergreen. I would give him a massage with our massage blend and other oils used in the technique, or he would apply the three oils mentioned with a carrier oil directly to where his spine was aching and within 20 minutes he would find relief. {Did you know that within 20 minutes oils that have been used are in every cell in your body?} The relief was such a blessing! Over the course of time, since supporting a health inflammatory response through food/lifestyle and the supplements I mentioned above, he has weaned off oil usage for that purpose. Now, we love to use them for stiff necks – you know when you sleep wrong and cry when you turn your head, muscle discomfort from working out and helping to relieve occasional headaches. We use them for so many other things too. They will always have a huge place in our lives.

     

    Infrared Sauna and Epsom Salt Baths

    We also bought an Far Infrared Sauna that we knew would benefit both of us in many different ways. I put this solution last because it is the most expensive and even if you just do the diet change, supplements and essential oils you will certainly notice a difference. We have both seen profound benefits in using our sauna. Apart from just being able relax in there for 20-25 minutes, it also helps with detox. The more we can do to detox our bodies and get rid of all the chemicals and pollutants we are exposed to each day the less overall inflammation we will have. (For me personally, having the MTHFR gene mutation help with detox is a must!) Just doing a far infrared sauna even once a week can have so many positive effects on your health from stress reduction to detox. In another post I will detail how to correctly and safely use an infrared sauna and why you only want to go with far infrared. Ours is made of non-toxic, no smell basswood that has not been treated with anything. It has lights, many heaters and cd player with speakers and has been a sweet addition to our health remedies. I highly recommend one as it can work wonders for those with autoimmunity whether it be cartilage and joint dysfunction all the way to Hashimotos.

    This present day ~ 3 years post-surgery ~ 2 years post diet and lifestyle changes

    Steve is symptom free from his cartilage and joint dysfunction in his spine! He can lift heavier things (with caution) without being in the chair the rest of the day. He can function and do the manly things that make him feel strong and helpful. We are so grateful! Praise God our Jehovah Rapha!

    His discomfort  can come back within a few days if he has not kept up eating well and has had too many inflammatory foods (the guy loves pizza but he disciplines himself!) The aches will also come back if he has not kept up on his vitamins and Theracurmin. He knows the signs and it is such a good check and balance for him to keep his discomfort at bay naturally. If he has let himself go a bit and aches come back he stops the bad things he was doing, starts applying the oils if necessary and uses it as a check and reminder to keep doing the things he knows work.

    Please don’t suffer anymore! These solutions have been proven to work, not only by us but by thousands of others and are worth the try. An anti-inflammatory lifestyle is a must for getting rid of any ongoing discomfort. In making these changes you will also save bundles of money each year in doctor bills because you won’t be going! We used to spend so much money on doctor bills (meeting our $5,000 deductible every year and the years with surgeries tens of thousands of dollars were spent) and now all we might do is a yearly checkup!  We don’t even go for sickness since our medicine cabinet is now food and essential oils and even common sicknesses don’t happen nearly as often.

    Lastly, I wanted to share with you some of the things that Steve is able to do because of his commitment to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. He has his life back and can do outdoor things, wrestle with his boys and be active. It is such a blessing!

    Steve diving

     

    Steve Fishing

     

    Steve at Bow Lake FOJ

     

    Steve hiking 2

     

    Steve horseback riding

     

    Steve on his horse

     

    The guys hiking

    The pleasure of enjoying God’s creation with friends and family and living and active lifestyle make the hard work of an anti-inflammatory life worth it!

    Any questions? Feel free to comment or email me. I would be happy to help!

    ~Cheers to relieving your cartilage and joint dysfunction and back discomfort~

     

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