ASK THE DOCTOR: Dr. Lou Pack
“What does the latest research show is the real cause of osteoarthritis?”
Like most physicians I was taught that osteoarthritis was due to aging. But the fact that it primarily occurs when we’re older doesn’t necessarily mean it’s due to age. There is a difference between a correlation and a cause. Arthritis, like heart disease, takes a long time to develop, but age is not the cause.
My work over 40 years has shown that contrary to what is currently believed, abnormal structure wears out our joints in the same way that poorly aligned tires wear out sooner. Now more and more credible data is substantiating my premise.
A recently published arthritis textbook of the latest research was reviewed by a preeminent rheumatologist. Dr. Hunter states that arthritis should now be viewed as being “primarily due to mechanical factors” and that by physicians “focusing more on this, we have the opportunity to help millions of patients with arthritis.”
Dr. Theodosakis is considered one of the foremost authorities in the world on osteoarthritis. In his book, "The Arthritis Cure," he continually emphasizes the important role that abnormal function plays in osteoarthritis. He states that, “it is critically important to control how we walk and function if we really want to treat arthritis.”
In 2001, the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association reported that “abnormal alignment of only five degrees (as measured from the ankle to the hip) increased the progression of osteoarthritis four to five times!”
Most recently the famed Mayo Clinic’s study showed that for “each degree of abnormal alignment there was a 53 percent increased risk of the progression of arthritis of the knee,” and that “increasing age was only weakly associated with an increase risk of osteoarthritis of the knee.” They now consider poor alignment as “one of the most important risk factors for osteoarthritis.”
We are not born perfect. Any degree of abnormality (like a flattened foot or longer leg) increases joint friction and over time causes arthritis.
The best way to prevent arthritis of the weight bearing joints of our feet, ankles, knees, hips and neck is to be structurally evaluated and fix (on a permanent basis) the problems found. Optimizing how we function, especially after knee or hip joint replacement, is critical to staying active without pain as we age.
A former Clinical Instructor of Medicine at Emory, Dr. Pack practices at MCG 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, drloupack.blogspot.com, or call (706) 454-0040.
Printed in the May 21, 2009 edition.