It started a few months ago, and it was just a small nuisance at first. I would wake up in the morning noticing that my ring finger on my right hand was slightly stiff. I noticed a little soreness during the day. Eventually ‘slightly stiff’ became so stiff I can’t bend it at all when I first wake up and the ‘little soreness’ gave way to all-out pain.
One silly little finger. I’m experiencing stiffness, pain, and joint swelling in one finger. It’s getting progressively worse each week and not showing signs of slowing down or getting better. When I wake up in the morning, I can hardly use it at all for a good ten minutes. It is stiff, swollen, and very painful. I have to use my other hand to try to bend it and get it working. When I’m making my breakfast and coffee I tend to drop things because I can’t form a grip to hold on to whatever I need. Not good when I have sleeping kids upstairs. Throughout the day I feel pain when I’m trying to do simple, everyday tasks like twist the tops off of jars, get Luke dressed, and make beds.
I asked a doctor friend to look at it. While he isn’t a hand specialist, he is an orthopedic guy and I thought his opinion might help me figure out what was going on before taking the plunge and going to my own doctor. (We only have coverage for well visits, so we have to pay full price for office visits.) He basically said it was inflammation, possibly arthritis that was coming out early in one finger that was injured when I was younger. I did play basketball from a young age and jammed my fingers a lot, so his explanation is plausible.
When he recommended I go and see a hand specialist, I asked what he thought that type of doctor would do. Tim chimed in that the doctor would probably tell me to take ibuprofen. Our doctor friend agreed that yes, that’s probably what I’d be told at first. Eh, I think I’ll skip that visit.
So here I am, with symptoms of arthritis. Taking ibuprofen might help my finger feel better, but I’m not interested in putting a band-aid on my issue. Also, you all probably know me well enough by now to know that I’m not really an over-the-counter medicine kind of girl. I like to keep it natural. I will be trying my darndest to fight this early arthritis (or whatever it is, clearly caused by inflammation) naturally, through diet.
Deciding to go on a strict anti-inflammation diet was a hard one for me. I’m not a diet person, so even using that term is tough for me. I like the mantra ‘everything in moderation’ when it comes to food, and it was really tough for me to accept that perhaps my already-pretty-healthy diet was contributing to this inflammation and pain.
I’m not willing to let this go and see what happens, though. Whether this is the beginning of arthritis or some other auto-immune disease, I really don’t want to find out. I will do everything in my power to not let whatever is happening develop any more.
Researching the anti-inflammatory diet was frustrating. As with everything in nutrition, there’s tons of contradictory information out there. I don’t know which side is right. Nobody does, for sure. I mapped out my plan based on what I read over a variety of sources. Here’s an overview of the major changes I’ll be making:
- Cut out all sugar, including natural sugars like honey and maple syrup.
- Cut out all processed foods. (I don’t eat a lot of them, but I wasn’t 100% processed food free, either)
- Cut out most flour.
- Cut out gluten.
- Drastically reduce the amount of animal products I’m eating, except eggs.
- Increase fatty fish consumption.
- Decrease use of all oils. Cut out grape seed oil. Only use extra-virgin olive oil in strict moderation, and not for cooking to avoid hitting its smoke point (too hard for me to control, so I’d just rather not cook with it for now.)
- Decrease coffee consumption and increase green tea consumption.
- Eat foods and herbs that are anti-inflammatory everyday, including ginger and turmeric.
Yes, this is a drastic thing. There are a few occasions I already know I won’t be following it 100% (Easter brunch, for example), but other than that I plan to follow this strict anti-inflammation diet for eight weeks. My goal right now is to get rid of the pain in my finger through diet. If it works, I will have to reevaluate how I eat and decide where to go from there.
I plan to keep you updated after a month and at the end of the eight weeks. Is there anything else you’d like to hear about? Meal plans or anything like that? Let me know! Also, if any of you or your loved ones have fought arthritis or other ailments caused by inflammation through diet, I’d love to hear your stories. Thanks!