Joint Pain Forum – News you can use!
If you don't have arthritis now, there's a good chance you will
R. M. Tooker
Millions of Americans are like the Tin Man from ``The Wizard of Oz'' -- much in need of oil for their joints.
Osteoarthritis, not so accurately called ``wear and tear'' arthritis, produces not only stiff joints but also significant pain.
As the baby-boom generation ages, there's a growing epidemic of
osteoarthritis. There are now 46 million Americans with arthritis, up
from 35 million in 1985.
This means billions of health-care dollars are being spent to reduce
pain and increase mobility for the growing number of boomers.
The American College of Rheumatology's recent scientific meeting
presented some new and sobering insights for young and old alike. The
lifetime risk of symptomatic knee arthritis is one in every two people.
I am one of those stiff-knee sufferers. In fact, my joints are becoming
my memory book of every football, skiing and backpacking injury that I
have ever had.
Wear and tear increases with age and does create risk for advancing
arthritis. But new research is starting to point to another culprit:
It has been well-established that heredity plays a role in hand and hip
arthritis. New studies indicate the same may be true for knee
arthritis. In fact, our genetic code may program the rate of
progression of many cases of arthritis.
Generations ago, people accepted the creeping pain and disability of
arthritis as inevitable. But recent generations are increasingly
intolerant of the ravages of arthritic joint changes. True to the
modern American way, we tend to want an immediate fix to our problems.
We want it cheap and guaranteed to work.
This desire for a quick fix has led to a great reliance on pill popping
for pain and stiffness, without any other life changes. After all,
wonder drugs are being developed all the time. The wonder drug Motrin
got its start right here in Kalamazoo.
The latest and greatest new wonder drugs for arthritis, however, have a
dark side of increased cardiac deaths. So we must give up our desire
for a quick and easy fix and get down to the logic of what will help
decrease the onset of osteoarthritis and increase our ability to age
successfully with arthritis.
Put simply, we need to move more and eat less. We need
to keep stiff joints moving in moderation and lose weight to decrease
For those with arthritis that limits work or even
activities of daily living, management by a medical-care provider is
But for millions who experience arthritis as an
on-again, off-again problem and for those who have fairly constant
stiff, noisy and mildly painful joints, relief can be found in the
simple prescription to move more and eat less.
Hopefully this prescription sounds familiar because it
is the essence of the Michigan Steps Up Campaign. It's no secret that
what is good for our heart, lungs, brains and bellies is also good for
Dr. Richard M. Tooker is Kalamazoo County's chief medical officer
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