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Does pain mean arthritis or spondylosis?

Before continuing, please read my article oh oddhub about treating pain.

Arthritis and spondylosis are the two most common names given to the condition, where people (without a history of recent injury) complain of pain and stiffness in the major weight-bearing joints such as the knee, hip, neck and back. The pain is usually attributed to the degenerative(wear and tear) changes due to ageing and hence it was believed to affect the old aged population. Recently such pains have become prevalent even in the younger age groups and they are made to believe that their joints have undergone early degeneration and hence the pain. Based on the region of pain they are named as osteoarthritis of the knee, hip, cervical spondylosis and lumbar spondylosis.

In addition, when other joints are involved they are given fixed diagnostic titles like periarthritis shoulder(shoulder pain), tennis elbow(outer elbow pain), golfer’s elbow(inner elbow pain), calcaneal spur(heel pain), plantar fasciitis(foot pain) and the list goes on. In reality, degeneration(wear and tear in the joints) is never proportional to pain. To be precise, patients without degenerative changes may have severe pain and those with degenerative changes may have lesser pain or may not have pain at all. Hence we should understand that no single cause (degeneration of joints) can be attributed to pain, and the cause of pain varies from person to person.

Should we treat pain based on these diagnostic names?

These diagnostic names(spondylosis, arthrosis, plantar fasciitis etc) are only meant for the “ease of communication” regarding a patient’s condition. They very much lack in specifying the exact cause of a disorder, which could be found only by an individualized physical assessment. Treatment should be directed towards the cause of the disorder and not towards the diagnostic names.

What causes pain?

  • Improper posture sustained for a long time
  • Faulty movement patterns
  • Short and tight muscles
  • Weakened and abnormally stretched muscles
  • Restricted mobility of nerves
  • Excessively stretched fascia (it is a layer of tissue under the skin)
  • Unequal weight distribution in the weight bearing(knee, hip, ankle) joints
  • Faulty food habits
  • Insufficient exposure to sunlight
  • Tight clothing
  • Improper footwear
  • Insufficient oxygen supply to the cells due to lack of deep breathing.
  • Accumulation of toxins(harmful substances) at the cellular level due to environmental pollution,fertilizers, pesticides in food and so on.
  • Lack of anti-oxidants in food.

All the above-mentioned factors can cause an acute episode of pain. When such an episode is managed by merely suppressing the pain, without addressing the causative factors, only then it leads to early degeneration and deformities of the joints in the long term. So let’s remember always to “treat the cause and not the symptoms”.

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