ASK THE DOC: Dr. Lou Pack
“Are arthritis drugs safe?”
Osteoarthritis, has reached epidemic proportions. One in every two seniors is now at risk of developing arthritis of their knees. Last year there were over half a million knee and hip replacements.
Since it’s generally believed that there is no known cause or cure (other than age and excessive weight), a physician’s goal is to keep you pain-free and active as long as they can. And while it’s wonderful that we have medications, remember that pain is something we’re designed to have as it warns us that if we keep doing the activity that caused it, not only will the pain worsen, but so will the damage.
In pharmacy school I learned one lesson above all else: the less medication you take, the better! Remember that anything you put into your body that isn’t supposed to be there has risks. And even if the risks are one in a thousand, they’re 100 percent if they happen to you!
If prescription drugs were as safe as we’re often led to believe, we wouldn’t need a signed document (prescription) that only a licensed physician can write to purchase them. If you read the precautionary information about these drugs you would be much more reluctant to take them. But serious complications can occur with non-prescription medications too, and this is validated by an overwhelming amount of studies.
Despite this, there are over 13 million Americans taking anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil, Motrin and Aleve, that results in 16,500 deaths each year! In some cases, drugs like Vioxx and Celebrex have also been shown to actually make your arthritis worse! And unfortunately you can’t always depend upon the validity of research studies, many of which are sponsored by the drug companies who make and sell these drugs.
Despite the commonly accepted theories that osteoarthritis has no known cause or cure, it does. Abnormal friction and pressure wears away joints in the same way that poorly aligned tires wear abnormally and prematurely. You don’t simply get pain in your knee or hip because you reached a certain age. And the latest research now confirms this.
Sometimes drugs are needed and necessary, but having yourself structurally evaluated to eliminate simple things like a longer leg or flattened foot can go a long way in saving your joints and helping you avoid drugs that can indeed have serious implications.
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 28, 2009 Edition.