Ask the Doc
Dr. Lou Pack
“It seems that more and more people I know have arthritis. How big a problem is this and why?”
Arthritis affects 70 million Americans. By 2030, it’s predicted that 67 million Americans will suffer from this debilitating disease. Arthritis has now become the number one cause of chronic pain and disability.
As a “senior citizen,” I’m seeing many of my friends unable to enjoy their retirement because of this painful, debilitating disease. Even a round of golf can leave many sore for days.
And what we’re doing clearly isn’t working. There are now more than 13 million Americans taking drugs and many others on supplements, attempting to alleviate their arthritic pain. Although helpful, supplements are like putting air in a leaky tire; treating after the fact; i.e. like pain medications, they do nothing to stop the cause of your arthritis.
When discomfort becomes too much, knees and hips are often replaced. Last year there were over half a million such joint replacements. If you haven’t had one yet, you surely know people who have. And that doesn’t end one’s problems as many complications can occur such as ending up with a leg that is longer or shorter than the other.
Medicine is for the most part still a “fix it” profession. And until more physicians begin to understand that despite current thinking, the major cause of osteoarthritis is not age or excessive weight (although certainly these are important factors) but abnormal alignment, these facts won’t change.
If age and weight were the primary factors, then why do we know people who are 90 and have no knee pain and some teenagers who do? There are also many people who are overweight who have no joint discomfort and others who are perfectly fit and suffer. The major cause of osteoarthritis of our weight bearing joints (foot, ankle, knees, hips and back) is our abnormal structures, which increase friction on our joints and subsequently wears them out. This occurs in the same way that abnormally aligned car tires wear out unevenly and prematurely.
The latest data from institutions such as the Mayo Clinic, now confirms this; the primary cause of osteoarthritis of the weight bearing joints is improper alignment and not age! If you want to stop arthritis you have to begin by more perfectly aligning how you function, (on a more permanent basis than just manipulation) and therefore decrease the stress on your joints.
A former Clinical Instructor of Medicine at Emory, Dr. Pack practices at MCG Medical Associates, at Reynolds Plantation. He works with patients who have arthritis and wish to decrease joint symptoms and remain active. He also treats athletes at all levels, including Olympic gold medalists, and helps the UGA Golf Team. For further information please see www.drloupack.com, or call (706) 454-0040.
Published in the March 5, 2009 edition.