Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bone spurs, calcium, heart attacks and gastric bypass

I recently reported that I have a very painful bone spur in my right heel.  It affects me every day.  I have spent a ton of money trying to make this thing right.  I don't know if it ever will be.  I've had two cortisone shots and they only seem to last about three weeks.  I had been told that bone spurs form due to an over-abundance of calcium in your system.  The calcium supposedly doesn't know where to go, so it attaches to your bones.  Apparently this is NOT true.  So I started researching bone spurs and calcium, and that lead to some studies, and my realization that gastric bypass surgery has potentially caused ANOTHER health issue for me. 

I had gastric bypass to AVOID health problems.  I was in my 20's.  I didn't have high blood pressure or diabetes.  I did not yet have ANY of the "fat diseases."  I was just fat.  But I thought I better ward them off by completely rearranging my insides.  Sounds like a great idea. 

My very first issue was waking up with staples holding my guts together.  I had gone to sleep thinking I was going to have laporoscopic surgery.  The intestine they had chosen to attach to my new pouch was too short, so they had to open me up at the last minute, leaving me with a much longer recovery than expected. 

My next issue, about nine months out, was blacking out.  My blood pressure and blood sugar would drop so low that I would black out if I stood up too fast.  I literally had to stop reporting it to my doctor because my driver's license was going to be yanked for losing consicousness (even though it never happend when I was just sitting).  I also had to go back to my surgeon and ask for more calories.  Our program told us that every person should eat 1,000 calories per day for life after surgery.  I insisted that since I was six feet tall, perhaps I should get a few more calories than a five foot tall lady.  I was given 1,500.  By the way, 9 years later, I maintain my weight on about 2,300-2,500 calories a day.

I also ran into tons of vitamin deficienies.  Each year was something new.  You want to know how you know you have a B12 deficiency?  The tops of your feet go numb.  Want to know how you know your protein is low?  Your hair falls out. 

Anyway, I don't want to bore you with all of my issues.  But I definitely ended up with more health issues AFTER surgery.  I'm not saying I wouldn't do it again, but it is something to point out...this surgery doesn't fix everything.

Back to the bone spur.  So, the doctor says, hey you have a bone spur, and they take a long time to grow.  At first I was thinking, well maybe I had it when I was even fatter.  But then I realize, I had surgery 9 years ago, and that IS a long time already, so I start researching bone spurs.  According to the Mayo Clinic:

Wear-and-tear arthritis (osteoarthritis) is the most common cause of bone spurs. As osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage cushioning the ends of your bones, your body attempts to repair the loss by creating bone spurs near the damaged area. The extra bone may help increase the amount of surface area for load bearing.

According to Livestrong.com:

Calcium is essential in the formation of strong and healthy bones as well as in maintaining the health of your bones. According to "The Vitamin Book," a lack of calcium can contribute to the formation of bone spurs by not allowing your bones to form as they should. A lack of calcium can cause your bones to form abnormally, leading to the possible formation of bone spurs.

[emphasis added.]
So, did gastric bypass and vitamin deficiency strike again???  Was I not absorbing my calcium supplements, leaving me at a higher risk for bone spurs?  Who knows, but let's talk about some recent studies about calcium and heart disease, and why we have to be careful about taking TOO MUCH calcium. 

High calcium intake has recently been linked to heart disease in men!  Read the entire article HERE.

Over 12 years of follow-up, men who took more than 1,000 milligrams (mg) of daily supplemental calcium were 20% more likely to succumb to heart disease than those who didn’t take calcium supplements. There was no connection between calcium supplements and heart disease in women (which has been seen in earlier studies), and no connection with calcium from food. The results were published yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

But wait, now there are studies to say calcium can lead to issues for women as well!  Read that article HERE.  They reported that women taking more than 1,400 mg of calcium per day were twice as likely to die as those taking 600 to 999 mg. 

What the studies don't seem to address is whether we are talking about calcium citrate (YES for gastric bypass patients) or calcium carbonate (NO for gastric bypass patients), or whether it matters.  They do both seem to suggest that we are only talking about supplements, and not getting calcium natrually from foods. 

I was recently told I have heart inflammation.  I will be writing about that soon, but I am having to increase my exercise, decrease fatty foods, and take...a baby aspirin (no-no for gastric bypass patients -- again, another planned future blog).  So, in response, I have lowered the amount of calcium supplement that I take (one pill instead of two to three...I'll grab the amounts and publish that new blog soon).  Also, we should be taking Vitamin D with calcium to help with absorption (and if you're a gastric bypass patient, you need the dry version, not those cute little oily pills).  I am also taking zinc and magnesium.  It is, in fact, be time for me to re-write my daily vitamin in-take blog, to let people know what I'm actually taking now. 

Ok, back to this bone spur.  I have heard some home remedies about apple cider vinegar dissolving bone spurs.  I have heard a ton of good things about health and apple cider vinegar, actually.  Some of the reports say you should drink a little bit of cider (I get the organic stuff, not the Heinz bottle) with water.  A bodyworker at Twirly Girls warns to do two weeks on, two weeks off.  So, I have been adding it to my morning glass of water for the last couple of weeks (before breakfast, I try to jump start my metabolism by drinking a glass of water anyway).  Now, other reports say to soak a towel in apple cider vinegar and wear it around all day (although I'm not really interested in having a wet sock all day). 

So, there you have it.  Lack of calcium may have lead to a bone spur in my heel, and trying to take additional calcium to fix it could potentially lead to heart issues.  I guess you can't win.  Has anyone else had any experience with any of these issues


  1. wow! yup yup! im in dublin (local) and rehab'ing from a genetic cartilage thing + arthritis + neck and back injury. plus heart disease in the immediate family. im 43, and i have painful bone spurs in my back and neck.

    my understanding is that bone spurs are calcified tendon. when physical alignment is off the tendons pull, and eventually if left in this condition for too long, that extended mis-shaped/mis-aligned tendon becomes calcified, and now its bone, a bone spur.

    im taking cal-mag-zinc now, plus some other stuff. and i have a SUPER/aggressive (new to me) chiro who is fixing me. 1 yr ago, my kaiser dr said i'd be in a wheelchair in 1-2 yrs. i'll be damn if im gonna let that happen. :) with my chiros help, im honestly better now than ive been in yrs. let me know if you want contact info to try him...

    best wishes to you! and hang in there...

    1. Hello local friend! :-) I'm so sorry you're dealing with multiple bone spurs! I was bummed about my ONE. :-/ I know an amazing bodyworker in Dublin if you are interested. Keith of Tri-Valley Bodyworks. He has helped so much with my pain and keeping me walking through the hip and foot issues. His methods are unlike any chiro I've ever been to. Worth checking out if you find the chiro work isn't helping anymore. :-)

  2. When Bone Spurs press on neighboring nerves, tendons and ligaments, it may cause:

    Lower back pain
    Neck pain
    Joint pain in the affected areas