Myalgia is pain, aching and stiffness affecting one or more groups of muscles. It is a feature of many viral infections such as those that cause flu-type illness, where aching in the muscles can be prolonged. It is a specific part of infection with a virus called coxachie B which causes one-sided chest pain affecting young adults. The pain usually disappears as the viral infection clears, but with flu it can linger for months.
Polymyalgia rheumatica is inflammation of a number of muscle groups, mainly in the shoulder and thigh, which causes aching and stiffness. It affects mainly older women and may be linked to inflammation of the arteries in the scalp and elsewhere. Treatment with steroids may be needed to prevent the development of blindness.
Nutritional Supplements that could help. (Refer to the individual supplement for cautions in use.)
|Supplement/Herb||What it does||Dosage|
|Black cohosh||Anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, mildly analgesic and a muscle relaxant.||as directed|
|Meadowsweet||Breaks down in the body to form salicylic acid, a compound very similar to aspirin. Has mild pain killing and anti-inflammatory properties.||as directed|
|Willow||The natural form aspirin. Pain relieving.||as directed|
|Devils Claw||Potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic.||as directed|
|Ginger||Anti-inflammatory and pain relieving.||500-2000mg daily|
|Green lipped mussel extract||Useful where there is inflammation and pain in bones, joints and muscles. Can be applied topically as a cream||as directed|
|Evening primrose oil||Helps to relieve inflammation.||as directed|
|Glucosamine||Provides the raw materials for building the components of cartilage needed to cushion joints.||1500mg daily|
|Cod liver oil||Helps to relieve inflammation.||as directed|
|Fish oils||Helps to relieve inflammation.||as directed|
|Magnesium||Muscles require magnesium in order for them to relax, so low magnesium levels often result in muscle cramps.||200 -600mg daily|
|Boswellia||Anti-inflammatory and pain relieving.||400-1200mg daily|
|Bromelain||Anti-inflammatory and has mild blood thinning properties.||250-750mg daily|
This condition may be part of the serious circulatory disease arterits. If you are taking steroids for this condition, always refer to your doctor before taking any natural remedy.
Diet and Lifestyle Factors
The general advice for arthritis on diet and lifestyle may also help this condition.
Many things can be done to reduce the impact of arthritis on everyday life. Self help measures should include changing your diet where needed taking into account any food sensitivity, exercise and weight control.
Things to include:
Phytonutrients. Eat plenty of fresh fruit. Berries and other fruits with a purple/blue colour such as black grapes, bilberries, cranberries, blackcurrants and blueberries are especially rich in a type of flavonoid called anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins. These phytonutrients are very powerful antioxidants and anti- inflammatory agents. Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, rhubarb and plums are acidic fruits and should be avoided.
Essential Fatty Acids. Include seeds such as sunflower, linseed, pumpkin, hemp and nuts. Seeds and nuts are good sources of essential fatty acids, vitamin B, zinc and the minerals calcium, magnesium and selenium.
Fluids. Drink herbal teas, dandelion coffee, and at least 1½ litres of mineral water daily and non citrus fruit juices. If you have a juicer, try the following mix each day to re-alkalize your system: carrot, celery, cabbage, and a tiny piece of chopped fresh root ginger, which is highly anti-inflammatory.
Green Vegetables. Include lots of organic green vegetables especially cabbage, broccoli and kale in your daily diet. Sea vegetables are also abundant in minerals. Kelp, hijiki, dulse and arame are especially high in calcium. Shitake mushrooms are also rich in calcium and phosphorous as well as being one of the few vegetable sources of vitamin D, an important nutrient required by the body to enhance the absorption of calcium from the diet.
Sprouted beans and seeds. Try sprouting your seeds. As a seed germinates, its vitamin and mineral content may double or even triple. Live sprouts, especially millet and quinoa together, are alkalisers. They mop up acid in your body and are packed full of live enzymes.
Use extra virgin olive oil or hemp oil for salad dressings. Try a non-hydrogenated, vegetable spread such as Vitaquell. Use sunflower oil for roasting or stir frying. Reduce the cooking temperature. Steam, grill or stir- fry foods. Increase the consumption of oily fish e.g. herrings, mackerel, kippers, tuna, sardines. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have been found to have an anti-inflammatory role within the body.
Use alternative vegetable protein sources such as organic chicken, quorn, tofu (provided an allergy to soya is not apparent) or quinoa in place of meat. Quinoa contains significantly more protein than any other grain, with a quality of protein better than meat. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals, enabling it to exhibit alkaline properties.
Things to avoid:
Sugar is found to neutralise calcium in the blood stream reducing the amount of calcium available for uptake by the bone.
Stimulants such as coffee, tea, alcohol, and cola based drinks and ‘junk food’ can have an adverse affect on mineral balance.
Acid fruits e.g. rhubarb, plums, tomatoes plus the citrus fruits oranges, lemons, grapefruit.
Pickled, smoked and preserved foods.
Meat (e.g. pork, beef, ham, bacon, and sausages ). Foods high in animal proteins are acid-forming. Too much acid in your body means that there is an excess of hydrogen ions which combine with oxygen to form water. Depletion of oxygen causes cells to break down and die, creating acidosis. As your system becomes more acid, your body leaches calcium from your bones to try and normalise the acid-alkaline balance of your blood. Replace meat products with oily fish, chicken, tofu, quorn or quinoa.
A diet low in salt is helpful in the treatment of all forms of arthritis.
Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, cakes, biscuits contribute to a generalised acid condition within the body, especially when accompanied by a diet low in fresh vegetables.
Dairy products are high in animal fat, protein and lactic acid, once again contributing to a generalised acid condition within the body. In addition to this dairy products are the number one food allergen for arthritis sufferers. Try alternatives to dairy produce including sheep’s and goats milk, Rice Dream and Oat milk, goats or sheep’s cheese and yogurts. While soya milk is also a dairy alternative, it may present as an allergen in some arthritic people.
Some people think that milk products are a necessary part of the diet because they alone ensure adequate quantities of calcium. This is a fallacy. Although the body requires adequate calcium for the healthy formation of bones, it is not the only important nutrient for building strong bones. Magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D are, among others, also significant. Milk and dairy products are poorly absorbed and they are poor sources of magnesium. Calcium is used best by the body with a good balance of magnesium. Both these minerals are found naturally together in green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds and they are in a form that the body can absorb.
Fried and processed foods are high in acid and are of little nutritional value. Wheat is the number two food allergen for arthritic sufferers and many people would do better to avoid it.
Proper exercises performed on a regular basis can help to decrease fatigue, strengthen muscles and bones, increase flexibility and stamina, and improve the general sense of well-being. Gentle stretching such as yoga can be helpful and “armchair exercises” can be done by people with limited movement. Recreational exercise, depending on the degree of movement, may include walking, cycling, swimming, exercise classes or light weight training.
Weight control is an important concern for people with arthritis. Keeping close to your ideal weight helps decrease the pressure on the knees and hips, which bear much of the weight of the body. In addition. research has now confirmed that overweight, middle-aged and older women can significantly lower their risk for developing osteoarthritis of the knee by losing weight.