When Franziska Rubin was diagnosed with osteoarthritis almost ten years ago, she felt sad and old. To this day, she is grateful to the surgeon for not recommending surgery, but rather training. Here the TV doctor reports why women in particular are affected by the disease – and what helped her personally.
Almost ten years ago, I didn’t look bad when my orthopedic surgeon and then a surgeon confirmed that I had advanced arthrosis in my right knee. They gave me a congenital wrong shape of the meniscus, a disc meniscus, as the reason, but of course that was of little use to me. To be honest, I was very sad, I could hardly walk and suddenly I felt very old. But what to do?
To this day, I am very grateful to the surgeon who pushed me off the operating table and said that I could stabilize it with training. And he was right, it took half a year for the inflammation in my knee to subside, but since then my knee has mostly been fine. Very well even if I take certain things to heart. Below you can read what you can do yourself and why and where arthrosis affects women more often.
Franziska Rubin is a doctor, moderator, medical journalist and author of several bestsellers on the subject of health, home remedies and healthy cooking. For 17 years she presented the MDR program “Hauptsache Gesund” on TV. She lives with her husband, daughters and dog on the Bavarian Ammersee.
In principle, any joint can be affected by arthrosis, a joint wear and tear. Knee, hip or ankle joints are particularly common, but also the small joints of the spine or the stressed metatarsophalangeal joint. X-ray findings often show that the cartilage is disappearing, the joint space is changing, or the bone underneath the cartilage is becoming denser. Accompanying it comes in phases to inflammation in the joint.
The process is accompanied by increasing pain and loss of mobility in the affected joint. The onset of arthrosis is not noticeable at all. If the cartilage loss progresses, the affected joint or the surrounding musculature will hurt under strain. Later, so-called start-up pain occurs after a period of rest. Getting up after sitting is painful, and hardened muscles cause additional pain and inflammation.
“The Better Medicine for Women” by Franziska Rubin
In the end, the joint hurts even at rest. The important thing is: a beautiful day does not make summer and a piece of missing articular cartilage is like a missing cobblestone on the road, which is still passable. If, for example, the knee axis is shifted slightly by orthopedic insoles in the shoes, the missing cartilage can slip to a place that is not as stress-intensive. Regrowing cartilage is unfortunately only possible for very small defects in the joints.
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In principle, medical treatment is primarily aimed at slowing down the further progression of osteoarthritis and controlling pain. This is done with pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, diclofenac, cortisone and so on) with side effects that should not be underestimated.
In addition, physiotherapy, through which supporting muscles are built up. If the pain and limitations become too severe – and only the patient decides when this is the case – a joint replacement is necessary. Important: If an operation is unavoidable, select specialized clinics with a high number of cases and experienced surgeons with the help of your doctor.
Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease worldwide and is actually more female. From the age of 50 every third woman is affected by it, from the age of 60 even every second one. For comparison: every fourth man over 50 and every third man over 60 suffers from arthrosis.
Finger joint arthrosis is particularly common in women: 65 percent of 65-year-olds suffer from what is known as Heberden arthrosis (women six to eight times more frequently than men). Here, the end joints of the fingers wear out first, sometimes with pain and “Heberden knots”, small bumps on the sides of the fingers due to bony outgrowths.
Rhizarthrosis in the saddle joint of the thumb is manifested by pain when gripping and holding, but also when pressure is applied, and it occurs up to ten times more frequently during and after the menopause than in men. Osteoarthritis of the knee: The gender difference is also particularly clear in the case of the knee, almost 63 percent of knee operations are performed on women. They are more likely to have complications afterwards.
Reasons for this lie in the anatomy of women, the more lax ligaments, the rather x-shaped legs, the smaller knees and the naturally thinner cartilage. Plus the fact that we’re getting older than men, have fewer muscles to support our joints, and there’s a lack of estrogen after menopause. That’s why sport or exercise is the be-all and end-all for arthritic joints. The trick is to be so painless that you can use and exercise the joint. It can also be important to take pain medication regularly.
1. Turmeric and Ginger
Turmeric and ginger help against inflammation and pain, which has been proven in numerous studies. Curcumin and gingerols can act like painkillers, but without side effects. I chose favorite recipes with lots of turmeric and ginger and cooked one of them every day.
2. Cumin, nutmeg and coriander
I also made myself a cumin, coriander and nutmeg spice blend: 50 grams of ground cumin plus coriander seeds and 5 grams of nutmeg. I mixed a pinch of the spice mixture (no more!) with a little vegetable oil into my food twice a day.
3. Avoiding meat and sausage products
I largely avoided animal products, especially meat and sausage products. They are rich in arachidonic acid, which fuels inflammatory processes in the joints.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine I see many helpful ways to improve the course of arthrosis. Some health insurance companies cover the costs of the treatment. My TCM doctor not only inserts needles, but also treats with Chinese herbs (usually in the form of teas) and herbal hand baths, for example for osteoarthritis of the fingers.
5. Cabbage pads
A cabbage pad can relieve pain in the knee joint: it has a cooling, decongestant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying effect. Scientists attribute the effect of the wraps to the anti-inflammatory ingredients flavonoids and glycosinolates in cabbage.
I put fresh leaves on every application. When I have pain, I use this pad once or twice a day. I do this by taking 2-3 large leaves from a head of cabbage, cutting out the center rib, and using a glass bottle or meat mallet to press the leaves down on a work surface or plastic board until liquid comes out. A rolling pin or wooden board would soak up the juice. I overlap the cabbage leaves around the aching joint and wrap them in cling film so that the juice doesn’t spill out. Secure with a gauze bandage or cloth. I leave the pad on for one to two hours. For use on smaller joints, cut the cabbage into correspondingly small strips and also apply them like roof tiles.
Of course, losing weight is also an important issue, especially for osteoarthritis of the hips and legs. Running with my dog every day has proven to be the best and most stabilizing knee training for me. Sitting, on the other hand, is poison. That’s why I have to go right now… Have a nice day too!