When speaking with patients I frequently get the impression that most folks don’t have a good base upon which to make decisions on how to approach their musculoskeletal health. That’s partly due to misinformation they likely hear from other healthcare providers. Here are a few examples of misconceptions and a better approach to understand these issues.
1. Arthritis is inevitable, I can’t do anything about it.
Stress on the body can make it prone to breaking down. The way to prevent progression of degeneration in the musculoskeletal system is firstly by improving flawed biomechanics. For example my own personal shoulder pain related to playing tennis resolved after my physical therapist and tennis coach altered my serve to correct the impingement I was placing on my shoulder. Maximize this by combining with a nutritional approach that is joint healthy, and then also using the Regenexx advanced platelet and stem cell therapies to treat existing joint, tendon, and ligament injuries. This sort of full spectrum personalized approach can bend the curve and stabilize a problem and prevent progression to worsening arthritis.
2. I’ve been told that because of my pain I need to stop my activity for fear of worsening the arthritis.
Use it or lose it is a key maxim for the human body. Avoiding all significant lower extremity exercises because of your knee or hip pain will lead to progressive muscle weakness and reduced proprioceptive sense in those joints. Your body requires some stress and activity in order to stay healthy. Rather than completely avoid activity, consider altering your activity by either lowering the impact level of your exercise or changing to a different modality. An example for runners is to reduce your running on the road and incorporate more treadmill jogging or switching to cycling and swimming.
3. I’ve been told that my arthritis is so severe that only a replacement will help.
Contrary to the recommendation many people receive, surgery for arthritis or tendinitis should always be your last resort not your first, second, or even third one. The evidence shows that the advanced Regenexx platelet and bone marrow stem cell therapies can improve pain in people with significant arthritis. These treatments are low risk with a high ceiling potential for improvement. In addition there are multiple other modalities that are low risk and still have the potential to improve quality of life that should be explored before considering serious surgical options that have dramatically higher risks.
4. I’ve been told that surgically cutting out the area where I have arthritis or tendinitis will fix my problem.
I cringe whenever I hear my patients say that they’ve been told that surgery can fix their problem. As opposed to changing a flat tire, treating an arthritic joint is much more complicated. Variables involved in pain include structure, stability, and neurologic issues. Fix gives the impression that a problem is completely resolved. Cutting out tissue has the real and frequent potential of destabilizing a joint. Not to mention cutting through tissue can result in chronic neuropathic pain. A more realistic perspective is that we can help to heal an injury, stabilize a joint, reduce the neurologic factors associated with pain, and overall maximize function and quality of life. Avoid providers who give you short simplistic responses on fixing you. Work with physicians who take a nuanced and personalized approach to healing. You deserve better than being treated like a car in an assembly line.
5. My doctor says stem cells won’t help me because I have too much arthritis.
That’s flat out incorrect. Based on data from within the Regenexx network even people with advanced arthritis can receive improvement in pain and function. This is due to the multifaceted affects of stem cells. A major effect of these cells is in coordinating the normal repairative process after an injury has occurred. Even if large scale repair of a damaged joint does not occur, micro level improvement in the health of a joint, cartilage, tendons, and supportive ligaments is valuable in stabilizing and optimizing the health of a joint. This all leads to less pain and better function.