Unfriend Neck Pain

Cervical Arthritis

85% of people over 60 affected by cervical arthritis

Unfriend Neck Pain

Unfriend Neck Pain

When headaches began to plague Maria DeRosa, she ended up at a pain management clinic where a specialist diagnosed her with cervical arthritis, also known as cervical spondylitis (arthritis of the neck). “While it was a relief to know where my headaches were coming from, I was shocked by the diagnosis,” she recalls. “The last thing I expected to hear was that I suffered from cervical arthritis.”

Neck pain, as one ages, is extremely common. Like the rest of the body, the bones in the neck (cervical spine) slowly degenerate over time, which results in arthritis. More than 85% of people over age 60 are affected by arthritis of the neck.

Although Maria’s doctor assured her the pain would not become crippling, nonetheless, the pain worsened as time passed. “I was getting worse and could not even put my head on the pillow,” she says. “The headache would start and I would notice it was coming from the base of my skull. I took pain pills but they only masked the pain and did not last long enough to stop it from completely shooting down my spine to the rest of my body.”

The most common procedure for neck pain includes a cervical epidural block. In this procedure steroid and anesthetic medicine is injected into the space next to the covering of the spinal cord (“epidural” space) for neck or arm pain that may be due to a cervical disk herniation, also known as radiculopathy or a “pinched nerve.” Many patients find short-term pain relief from steroid injections. Maria, in fact, returned to the specialist who told her that he could do a series of injections commonly recommended for cervical arthritis that would “block” the pain. “Yet,” she notes, “the pain continued.”

The pain worsened at night and interfered with Maria’s sleep. “So I became desperate with no sleep. I told myself to try something natural, even though I did not believe that a dietary supplement could offer much help.”

“Out of sheer desperation,” she says, “I went to a health food store and told the lady my issue and she told me to take a product called Curamin.”

Curamin, as Maria learned, is based on curcumin, the active ingredient taken from the rhizome or underground stem of turmeric, Curcuma longa, a ginger-like plant belonging to the Zingiberaceae family. Turmeric is usually available ground, as a fine, bright yellow powder and has always been considered an auspicious material in India among both the northern Aryan and the southern Dravidian cultures; its value extends far into the historical beliefs of the ancient Indian populations.

Indian cooking embraces turmeric, which is added to nearly every dish, both meat and vegetarian, particularly in curries and curry powders. When used in curry powders, it is usually one of the main ingredients, providing the yellow color.

Beyond its culinary enhancements, turmeric’s curcumin is an important phytochemical. Curcumin, in particular, seems to be able to act like an anti-inflammatory, fortifying the body’s defenses against a whole host of age-related dysfunctions that impact heart, cell and joint health. Rates of memory loss in India are extremely low compared to the United States, with research pointing to the amount of curcumin in the diet.

A preliminary intervention trial that compared curcumin with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in 18 rheumatoid arthritis patients found improvements in morning stiffness, walking time and joint swelling after two weeks of curcumin supplementation (1,200 mg/day) were comparable to those experienced after two weeks of use of phenylbutazone, another NSAID.

A pilot clinical study evaluated the safety and effectiveness of curcumin alone and in combination with diclofenac sodium in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Forty-five patients diagnosed with RA were randomized into three groups with patients receiving curcumin (500 mg) and diclofenac sodium (50 mg) alone or in combination. The curcumin group showed the highest percentage of improvement in overall pain relief and mobility scores, which was significantly better than the patients in the diclofenac sodium group. More importantly, curcumin treatment was found to be safe and did not result in any adverse events.

Yet researchers express concern that commonly used curcumin supplements are not capable of delivering an absorbable form of the phytochemical the body can utilize in a convenient number of capsules.

This takes us back to how turmeric is traditionally prepared, using oils and fats, which make it “body ready” and more absorbable. Fortunately, the absorption problem has been solved with a clinically studied form of curcumin known as BCM-95 that uses the plant’s own essential oils and lipids to enhance absorbability. A clinical study has shown that BCM- 95 delivers tenfold higher blood levels of the active ingredients in curcumin than plain curcumin or turmeric.

Maria began using Curamin. “After about three days my pain was gone. I could not believe I was having relief and could sleep at night; that, to me, was a miracle. I know that it does not cure my arthritis but neither did the medications I was taking; however, at least now, my pain is gone.”

Chandran B, Goel A.A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytother Res. 2012 Nov;26(11):1719-25. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4639. Epub 2012 Mar 9.
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Shrikant Mishra and Kalpana Palanivelu The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer's disease: An overview Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2008 Jan-Mar; 11(1): 13–19.
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