Doctors Should Stop Blaming Every Ache and Pain on Age & Arthritis
Is arthritis the same thing as degenerative joint disease osteoarthritis? Is taking arthritis medicine your only option? Does degenerative joint disease always cause pain?
These are all important questions.
What if you've been told your pain is "age-appropriate" or arthritis? Or that your pain is caused by a degenerative disc or joint? Does this mean you have to live with the pain?
I estimate that around ninety percent of the patients I've seen in my practice over a 30-year period, have had some degree of calcification/bone spurs in their neck, back and other joints. Most of them have me that a previous doctor has diagnosed their pain as being from arthritis. This is a highly questionable conclusion. The mere presence of calcification (extra bone) around a joint, or thinned joint spaces is simply not a good enough clue that it is the true cause of the pain. I have seen thousands of people who were told they had “bone on bone” as the cause of their pain.
Arthritis defined: The word arthritis means joint inflammation. The question one must ask: is arthritis the same thing as a bone spur, or in the case of the spine, degenerative disc disease? Hmm... Let's use some logic to figure this out. We need the next definition...
Osteoarthritis: This is the most common type of arthritis. Traditionally, the term is used interchangeably with degenerative joint disease. Signs of osteoarthritis are deterioration of bones and cartilage that make up joints. This applies to joints throughout the body, including the neck (cervical spine). There are also dozens of other types of arthritis. One is rheumatoid arthritis. This is far less common, but it's much more destructive and crippling. It is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that affects primarily the joints of the hands and feet. Other arthritic disorders, known as rheumatic disease include gout, ankylosing spondylitis, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, enteropathic arthritis, and DISH disease. You should also know that arthritic conditions are properly diagnosed by a combination of physical examination, x-ray findings, blood tests, and medical history... not merely by the presence of pain.
Dr. Donald Liebell, DC, BCAO
477 Viking Drive #170
Virginia Beach, ViA 23452
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's look at a real, live example
Case Study: Louie, Age 91 Let’s consider the case of Louie. For many decades Louie has had these severe bone spurs and complete loss of space between some spinal discs (bone-on-bone). His neck is abnormally straight and tilted forward. By any doctor's objective evaluation, Louie's neck is a mess! It looks ghastly on the inside. If Louie suffered from chronic neck pain, it would be no surprise for any doctor to tell him: “Well Louie, you have severe arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and something called DISH disease… You’ve got bone spurs the size of Alaska… no wonder you’re in pain… you’re only choice is surgery, painkillers, steroid injections or just deal with it.”
But here's the catch: Louie's neck didn’t hurt! He didn’t take pain medication! He was 86 when I took this x-ray. He lived to 97… without neck pain. It just goes to show you that arthritis isn't all it's cracked up to be.
It is simply inaccurate to blame neck pain on degenerative disc disease, commonly called arthritis. Doctors appear to diagnose arthritis as the cause of pain way too often. The lesson to be learned here is that if a doctor has told you that the x-rays show arthritis or degenerative disc disease; this doesn't mean that it's the cause of your pain. It also doesn't mean there's no treatment that can help it. If you've been discouraged by a doctor regarding drug-free treatments for arthritis pain; you might want to consider that most doctors have no experience helping arthritis sufferers WITHOUT drugs!
NOT arthritis! Yes, Louie's neck looks awful... but NO pain at all!
Mainstream arthritis treatment boomed with the FDA's 1999 approval of Vioxx. However, FDA analysts estimated that Vioxx caused between 88,000 and 139,000 heart attacks, 30 to 40 percent of which were probably fatal, in the five years the drug was on the market. When it was finally recalled, Vioxx had been taken by approximately 4 million Americans. It is estimated that Vioxx killed 60,000 Americans.
The horrifically crooked scientists from the pharmaceutical giant Merck faked the results of clinical trials in favor of the arthritis drug, Vioxx, to hide evidence that the drug increased patients' risk of heart attack
The work of these criminals of so-called "conventional" medicine goes relatively unpunished and ignored. There are no yearly memorials for the victims of Vioxx, like we have for terrorist attacks. Merck Pharmaceuticals withdrew Vioxx from the market in September of 2004. They had sales revenue of $2.5 BILLION the year prior to the withdrawal.
There are many drug-free and non-surgical treatments used throughout the world that help. I use many of them in my practice. There are many great ways to treat people with joint inflammation.
Perspective: 2,996 total deaths from the 9/11 terrorist attack. 60,000 from Vioxx!!
MY ADVICE: Run for the hills from any health care professional that tells you their treatment is the only option.
True emergency medical situations are of course, the exception to this rule. Let's face the fact that there are money motivations for diagnosing and treating arthritis. Before the deadly drug, Vioxx was mercifully removed from the market (over 50,000 people died from its use!), it generated many billions of dollars in sales annually.
I think that blaming pain simply on arthritis is tragic, medically lazy, ignorant, and irresponsible.
Millions of people suffer from neck pain due to treatable, structural imbalances of the neck. Chronic infection, such as Lyme disease can also be the cause of arthritis throughout the body. Joint inflammation can also be the result of dietary and bio-energetic imbalances that must be addressed. These imbalances can exist with or without the presence of degenerative discs and bone spurs (osteophytes).
FACT: There are people who have NO arthritic degeneration, but suffer neck pain.
FACT: There are people who have LOTS of arthritic degeneration, but feel FINE.
This is a matter of simple logic: one MIGHT have pain due to degeneration. Its mere presence does NOT provide sufficient evidence that it is the cause of PAIN. Old Louie's case is one of countless examples. It’s not rocket science. If your neck hurts, and a doctor shows you signs of degeneration on an x-ray (like Louie's), it's inaccurate to automatically blame the degeneration on the pain.
In my experience, misalignment of the ATLAS vertebra (top bone of the neck), which seldom becomes arthritic, is one of the major causes of neck pain, and in my opinion should be examined FIRST, by a qualified upper cervical specialist, in all cases of neck pain... BEFORE drugs are prescribed... BEFORE physical therapy is prescribed... BEFORE surgery is considered.
All possible causes of neck pain must be investigated. Many medical disciplines may be necessary to solve the mystery of your pain. I think the evidence is clear that arthritis is often a weak explanation; one that is more like GIVING UP than a solution to the pain.
Be suspicious of any doctor blaming your pain on arthritis and giving you drugs as the only option
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477 Viking Drive #170, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23452, United States
The Liebell Clinic has office hours one Saturday each month for special evaluations. Times and dates are variable month-to-month.
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