Wednesday, November 10, 2010

DAY 36 – Living with Arthritis - Why???

I was ten years old when I awoke one morning unable to move. I was on my back and could not turn, or attempt to get up without a sharp pain piercing my low back. Lying there, I fearfully wondered what kind of shape I would be in at 50, given that I was in such pain at 10. Finally I called out to my parents; and my Dad came to gently lift me out of bed.

That was the first of many painful, and at times incapacitating, episodes of arthritis that I would experience during the next 3 decades. Thirty-one years after that fateful morning an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) showed that the arthritis had destroyed bone and discs in my low back.

(the image to the left is a second MRI of my low back taken in 1998)

Today, November 10, 2010, forty-nine years after that fateful morning, I get an e-mail from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, titled “Living with Arthritis”. Not exactly timely for me. :) But timing is not the problem with this e-mail and the linked article from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) of the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The problem is that from the highest healthcare resource in the land we learn almost nothing about the causes of arthritis, and scantily more about what to do about it.

The article informs us that inflammation causes arthritis, but then neglects to tell us what causes inflammation. This is a serious omission. Fortunately, some of us already know.

As for what to do about our arthritis, we are advised to stay active, lose weight, absolutely see a doctor (implies an MD), and by all means take the anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication that your MD will surely prescribe. Again, no discussion or connection to the cause of the disease.

This article shines a flood light on America’s need for real healthcare reform. We must break from our addiction to the conventional medicine of suppressing symptoms with drugs, and embrace conversations and practices that deal with understanding the causes of illness and disease.

My advice is don’t waste your time learning to “Live with Arthritis”. Instead, learn about its most common causes, and make changes in your lifestyle to respond to those causes.

Dr. Young
Note: I will address causes and functional treatments for arthritis in a future post.

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