“One Acetiminophen every 4 days increases the risk of kidney failure 4.4 times and one Ibuprophen every 4 days increases the risk of kidney disease 8.8 times.”

by Michael Tereo, D.C.

In the beginning, there is a little stiffness in the neck or lower back, generally thought of as an annoyance that is to soon go away. Then you notice that getting up in the
morning, or towards the evening, the stiffness is accompanied with some pain. Osteoarthritis is sneaky that way. It begins gradually and can progress to become
quite debilitating.  Osteoarthritis affects more than 50 million Americans and
represents what is known as a degenerative joint disease.

The most common symptoms associated with this degeneration are pain, inflammation, and limited movement of the joints. Not only are humans affected by
osteoarthritis but so are all animals with a boney skeleton. Birds, reptiles, even whales have been shown to have the effects of osteoarthritis!  Osteoarthritis is a gradual
breakdown of the articular cartilage which lines the ends of the bones in a joint. The joints in the neck, low back, hips, knees, and thumbs are the most commonly affected.
There are numerous causes of osteoarthritis; malalignment of a joint leading to structural instability, nutritional deficiencies, and obesity are a few examples.

For whatever reason, the smooth, Teflon-like coatings on the bones in the joints called articular cartilage begins to break down and dry out. This progressive wearing out of
a joint leads to the pain, inflammation, loss of movement, and sometimes a “crunchy” sound present with movement, called crepitus.  Standard medical treatment for osteoarthritis is palliative in nature. The two most common drugs prescribed fall
into two categories; Acetaminophen and Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAID). Both of these are commonly found at every drug store. Also used, but to a lesser degree are the corticosteroids.

Acetaminophens are Tylenol, Datril, and Liquiprin. These drugs are excellent at covering the pain and at helping to lower a fever. The NSAIDs are Advil, Aleve, Excedrin-IB, and Motrin. NSAIDs also are very effective in tricking the body into feeling no pain and can also reduce inflammation. Sounds like the perfect solution, doesn’t it?

Now the bad news. Acetominophens taken for a period of time can lead to kidney and liver damage, especially if taken on an empty stomach or if alcohol is regularly
consumed. Osteoporosis has also been linked to long term usage of these drugs.
The NSAIDs decrease inflammation by blocking the production of a hormone-like substance normally found in the body called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins play a
role in the regulation of blood pressure, blood clotting, kidney function, the secretion of gastric acid, and for keeping the articular cartilage lubricated. As you can see,
there are many potential side effects to using these drugs.  Also, because these medications mask the symptoms of osteoarthritis so well, generally a person will overuse a joint causing further breakdown.

Sometimes corticosteroids are used when the other types of medication “fail” to control inflammation.  Prednisone and cortisone are the two most common corticosteroids used. They are great at reducing inflammation, but they have some
serious side effects such as depressing the immune system, thinning the bones, increasing the risk of bone fracture, and impairing wound healing. When taken at high doses for a long period of time can cause hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, and even mental disturbances.  Yikes!!! What can be done to help this condition?  According to R.A.N.D. researcher Ian Coulter, Ph.D., persons over 75 years of age receiving chiropractic care report a 29% improvement in over all health, spend less
time in hospitals, and suffer fewer symptoms from arthritis.

In 1994 The United States Agency for Health Care Policy Research concluded that relief of lower back pain can be accomplished most safely with spinal manipulation.
Jason Theodosakis, M.D. researched the usage of glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate to help reconstruct the dehydrated articular cartilage associated with osteoarthritis. According to Dr. Theodosakis, these nutrients used in conjunction with exercise and diet have helped turn around many osteoarthritic conditions. He even claims a cure!

There is much research in the field of anti-oxidant therapy, exercise, and many other topics as having a positive effect on osteoarthritis. When it comes down to it, the best treatment is prevention. Like regularly changing the oil in your car to prevent break down, proactive measures such as a diet low in fat and high in fiber, moderate exercise, nutritional supplementation, and perhaps chiropractic health care will all go hand-in-hand in maintaining optimum health. It is never too late to adopt a healthful life style.

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