Healing Without Steroids!

Greetings everyone,
I thank you for all your posts as they helped me to be determined to find another path to healing besides steroids.

I have traveled the path of many of you.  I have been through pain that kept me up most of the night, followed by more pain all day, wondering how long I could bear it.  I have awakened in the middle of the night so stiff I felt I couldn't move.  I have been devastated when I couldn't get myself up off a toilet seat, and had to figure out how to wash under my arms because the pain and stiffness kept me from doing what was just normal life weeks before.  I went from a healthy woman to a semi-invalid.  I sure couldn't write this blog back then, my right hand didn't work at all and I could only type a little bit with my left.  Now, nine months later, I am most days 85% healed.  It's up and down, but definitely getting much better.

I was diagnosed with polymyalgia in April 2012, and when I told my doc I wasn't going to do the steroids, he shrugged his shoulders and said he couldn't help. But I found help, on many levels.  I was blessed to assemble an awesome healing team and a plan for healing.

I had heard good things about a doctor who was both an MD and a homeopathic physician and began with him. The interview was amazing, I left feeling that nobody ever knew so much about my physical and even emotional condition, and took 3 hours. After that, he chose a remedy which matched me most closely. If you've never heard about how homeopathy works, it is a totally different system of medicine. The medicines are called remedies and they don't target a symptom, at least in classic homeopathy (there are other ways it is used). They are tailored to your very individual type and meant to support your own natural healing abilities. When I later read on the internet about my type, I was really astounded at how closely it described me. I showed it to my son, who said they must have known me when they wrote it.

I began to take the remedy first at lower strengths then building up to stronger ones. Now the other semi-weird thing about homeopathic remedies is that they are actually super, super diluted naturally occurring substances and the more dilute they are, the stronger. It is still hard to wrap my mind around any of this, I am a part of our western medical culture, but I have experienced it myself. It is also kind of like the way that immunizations are created. So, it gets stranger...then, you don't take it like medication, you know 3x a day for 10 days etc. You see how it acts and then don't take it until you feel it has stopped working. There is also a downside - the first few hours to a day, it will often increase the symptoms before you start to feel better. It has been a very frustrating process, more of an art than the exact science and yet it is working for me, and that is what counts!

Then, I had a recurrence of something I'd had occasionally in the past - what I call 'jumpy legs.'  It might be the same as 'restless leg syndrome.'  In the past, I found relief by taking glasses of tonic water, which has quinine in it.  Now, however, I found a homeopathic remedy known to help restless legs, 'zincum metallicum.'  Now, here's where 'side effects' come in.  Unlike bad side effects known in pharmaceuticals, homeopathic remedies, because they heal on many levels, have positive 'side effects.'  One of the other things that zincum is known to help with, is a particular form of anxiety.  I had had my feelings hurt and was having a hard time letting it pass; that old nagging thing where you wake up in the middle of the night and just can't stop thinking about it.  But when I took the zinc, that anxiety left and hasn't returned, even when I thought about the event.  It also helped with my neck pain.  Honestly, I don't know why this stuff isn't used by everyone, except it doesn't have the marketing of big pharmaceutical companies behind it.  The remedies mainly come from France.


My symptoms were pretty much like everyone says - lots of aching and stiffness. I had to lean against the wall to get down a set of stairs, couldn't sleep a lot of nights without using cold packs in various places, and at one point had such shoulder pain that I slept in a recliner for a couple of months, packed in with cold packs. Eventually, my legs got much, much better with the homeopathy. But then I developed carpal tunnel syndrome.

During the first few months, I was taking a minimum of NSAIDs at my doc's request. He wanted to see how the remedy was working and taking pain relievers could mask that. But eventually I felt dissatisfied and turned to a second homeopathic provider, who encouraged me to supplement the homeopathic remedy with other things. I began to take NSAIDs every day, and get relief from them, even though I've heard from others that they don't help. I take them only 3x a day and hope to cut back eventually.

I found a wonderful acupuncturist and have been going weekly. He is much better than one I'd seen years ago, there is a wide variety between providers. He has been focusing on strengthening my spleen to boost my immune system, and also prescribing TCM - chinese herbs.

ADDING ACUPUNCTURE HAS DECREASED MY SYMPTOMS EVEN FURTHER. I would say I have now gotten between 70-85% better than when my symptoms were at their worst.

I am also seeing a wonderful osteopathic physician whose warmth is healing in itself, as well as her remarkable ability to work on my trigger points and help my body to heal. She also does other techniques, like myofascial release and cranial sacral techniques.  It is hard to find an osteopathic physician who actually does this, most of them are just doing what MDs do, but she is awesome. She works in a pain clinic and I believe is called a physiatrist. I have a prescription for her for a mild dose of neurontin, which I believe helps somewhat. I have also taken Flexaril muscle relaxant occasionally and found it only works for about 2 weeks, so I only take it once in a while when it seems that muscle spasms are the current issue.

In addition, I am going to Occupational Therapy for my carpal tunnel, which is connected to my shoulder and neck pain and stiffness. I also use a cervical neck pillow to sleep on and wrist braces when I sleep. I've used other accommodations such as a raised toilet seat with arms, which was a huge blessing, an armchair with extra cushions since I am tall and it is hard to get out of a lower chair. My church has been very kind in letting me have an armchair - but I am feeling so much better I don't need it anymore.

I had noticed a lag in my immune system some years ago. I went to an MD with a good reputation and told her that I wanted to boost my immune system. She asked me, "are you alive?" I resented the attitude but said, yes, of course I am alive. She then said, 'then your immune system is working, isn't it.' Needless to say, I never went back. I then found through the grapevine an MD who specialized in immune system function and after a thorough exam, he recommended that I follow the book, Eat to Live. I tried, but it is really strict, yet the more I followed it, basically eating lots of vegetables, the better I felt. But I lagged, then found Kathy Abascal's book To Quiet Inflammation. I have benefited from reading both books, and find Abascal easier to follow. I have already been eating gluten-free for 20 years (it's getting much easier now that there is more awareness and more products) and noticed that when I recently couldn't resist fried chicken during the holidays, I gave myself a week of misery - more aching and also congestion.

Working on reducing stress, using some quiet yoga since I can't do any of the usual asanas. But I am reading a couple of books on using yoga to quiet anxiety. Also being very mindful not to take on other's problems. I have a saying posted by my computer about letting go: 'To 'let go' does not mean to stop caring, it means I can't do it for someone else.' etc. I also wrote my own statement about how I am going to heal, and might post it some other time. When I get my hand agility back, I will go back to painting for pleasure - I'm almost there.

Last, but not least: As soon as I was diagnosed, I sent for a CD which I've been sending to others who are severely sick, for years. It is Karen Drucker's CD on healing. I listened to it when I laid down for naps, and let the words sink in. It's wonderful. I can't say enough for how important paying attention to my spiritual life has been to my healing. We need to heal body and spirit! I am a Quaker, and so am used to sitting in stillness with the divine, and have made it a practice during the week as well as Sunday worship. I have also been working with a wonderful pastoral counselor who is also a shamanic healer, in long distance phone calls. I can't say enough about letting love come through - as you love others, you feel connected and I believe it connects me to the divine.

As bugs bunny says...th th th that's it, folks!  (except that I've written a sequel, called Healing without Steroids - more thoughts and healing methods I forgot to mention from Determined2BWell, found also on this website)

June 5, 2013  a postscript:
Just want to say that thanks to the help of my osteopathic doctor and the homeopathy, my knees are now good to go and I am in a hiking group again and doing the treadmill at the gym.  There IS light at the end of this tunnel! 

Heal and be well,

Determined2BWell (without steroids!)

Determined2BWell Determined2BWell
66-70, F
3 Responses Jan 8, 2013

Hi again Determined2BWell, just a note to let you know what an aunt of mine was told by a specialist a little while ago when her PMR soared again. Doc said PMR was genetic. Researchers have found a genome they've traced back to the Vikings and others from the same area, that PMR is only found in descendents of these people. (Maybe the Vikings evolved to PMR from all that dreadful rowing across the oceans!) Anyway, I am doing well with calcium and magnesium, and also silica. And we have a new dog to walk, which is so much fun. My aunt has gone back onto steroids. She says at 81 she's too old to be trying new things. She also noted that the steroids aren't working as well as they used to. Interesting. Stay well! Many thanks.

Hi Toni,
I am so glad to hear you are doing well, and yet sad that your aunt is back on steroids and that they aren\'t working as well.

About genetics: that is really interesting, about the Vikings. I am from Eastern European descent, so not sure about my connection to the Vikings but it\'s possible. However, genetics only gives a predisposition to getting any ailment, which is then triggered by trauma or other environmental problems.

The Harvard health bulletin from 2011 says this about it:
The disease is most common in Caucasians, especially those with Northern European ancestry, but no ethnic group is immune. Women are at higher risk than men, but many males
are affected. In all, one of every 133 people above age 50 has PMR. A particular genetic type (HLA-DR4) indicates an enhanced susceptibility to both PMR and GCA; s (Giant Cell Arteritis).

I have a new approach which seems to have helped a lot, and may also be connected to genetic predisposition to food sensitivity. I just got the report from an extensive blood test for food allergy, and will post more about it after I see more results. However, even after only four days on my food allergy elimination program, I am experiencing a lot less symptoms - hardly thought to take my ibuprofen today until afternoon because I was feeling so much better. I already knew I was terribly wheat sensitive, and had eliminated that, but found out that there are another 30+ foods that I react to, particularly soy. It is hard to eliminate so many foods, but it seems to be well worth it!

Be well,


My goodness! So many foods! Thanks for your reply. We can only trace our ancestry to the UK and Ireland. I am also wondering about past illnesses. 1985 I had scepticaemia, and didn\'t feel myself again for years. My new GP at that time (who didn\'t pat me on the head and say it was stress) sent me for allergy tests. I was amazed - rye and coconut were at the top of the list (severe), and at the time, there was a build up of salicylates from everyday fruit & veg. Also allergies to most of the blooms and grasses in my locale. Oh, and cats. 3 months of staying away from the main culprits (but not the cat) certainly helped, and now I can eat pretty much whatever I want. I have heard of others developing allergies after blood poisoning. Also, have had glandular fever over the years three times while no-one around me has (not even my husband). I\'ve read that GF sometimes precedes PMR though it\'s unlikely to be a cause. I\'ve had a down day today! Your message has certainly cheered me up and if my ancestors were Nordic, I wish they\'d given me longer legs rather than PMR. Many thanks. xxx

Thank you so much for sharing your story. PMR seems to occur too frequently in my family (I was first diagnosed at 42 - now 54), and I am determined to overcome it - without steroids! I will try the treatments you recommend and buy the books you've cited. Once again, thank you and bless you - and I wish you a speedy and complete recovery.

Dear Toni59,
I really appreciate hearing from you, and hope that my story might inspire you to keep trying different treatments until you find what works for you. I told my (homeopathic and M.D.) doctor that while I feel aching, I have no more actual pain. And the aching seems to be responding to drinking LOTS of water and making sure I am getting a balance of magnesium to calcium - my doc says 1500 mg calcium, 750 magnesium. Resting also helps, balanced with getting exercise.

Please keep us posted on your progress!

My pain is not so severe, so I am not going on steroids, I am going to try being glutton free for a while to see if that helps. I am really impressed with your story. My worst symptom is the fatigue and the migraines. (I have bad headaches with auras ). The pain is mostly in my arms and thighs. I do go to the gym 3 times a week and this seems to help. I am really trying hard to be drug free if possible . I hope things keep going well for you.

Hi Caro7,
I really appreciate hearing from you and hope you have lots of resources available to you so you can also stay drug free. A year ago, my pain was 24/7 without letup, but with the help of all you've read in my story, I feel 85% better - still some fatigue and I've learned to take rests when I need them. Still some aches but nowhere near what they were. I sleep well and last week was able to drive a 1500 mile round trip myself - a year ago I could barely make it on a 15 minute drive.
I wrote a second story which has even more resources listed which I mention at the end of this story. And lately I've been going to therapeutic or gentle yoga and it is awesome. Everyone in the class has some issues and the teacher is very helpful with tailoring the yoga to our needs.

I hope you find help for the migraines, that is a symptom I haven't heard of for PMR. I did read of a natural remedy some people are using, which is to put ice in your mouth so you get the equivalent of a 'brain freeze,' it apparently shrinks the blood vessels that are too open. Actually, they were advocating chocolate ice cream! Keep up the good work, I think you'll be glad you did as you heal and don't have to then deal with steroid withdrawal. Let me know how it's going.