Marianne: I hear this all the time, my doctor told me I’ve got osteoarthritis, and I’m not allowed to lift any weights. So if movement is medicine, but your doctor’s basically restricting what you do, and you’re getting the message that you shouldn’t move, even though there’s other ways to move, but what people hear is, I’m not allowed to do anything, but I’m supposed to move. So what am I supposed to do?
Like, those wear and tear is just a normal process, just like our skin gets wrinkles, is that a lot of those things would happen underneath as well. And there’s studies looked at like, they scanned kids, like young kids, and also teenagers who were like athletes, pro athletes, and they’re carrying around all sorts of, like, osteoarthritis, degeneration, all of the usual things that we think are bad, turned out to be pretty normal things that go on in everybody’s bodies at some point. And sometimes, they matter, if you have pain, but other times, and most times, they don’t matter.
And several years ago, it was in, oh gosh, it must have been 2015 or 2016, I went to San Diego Pain Summit, and my husband happened to be speaking there. But I listened to a keynote speak, actually from fellow Australian, Professor Peter O’Sullivan, he’s based in Curtin University, and he spoke about this idea where when people are scanning you left, right and center, you turn up to the doctor with back pain, then they scan people way too much, they do too many images, because they’re so sensitive now, those tests, that they pick up everything.
And so then the doctor’s telling you all these things that are on it, and you don’t know that it’s normal. So they’ll say things like, You have the back of an eighty-year-old, and you’re one band away from your back exploding. Basically, they make it sound so dramatic and horribly scary that it sends you down a path of usually disability and more pain and trying to fix everything.
So it’s just fascinating to me when I heard that. Something like, where there’s more scanners, there’s more disability with pain. And especially in America, because it’s a business, so there’s no disincentive to scan people.
James: It happened to me. When I found I was seizing up in winter, I went and they did an MRI. And they said, Well, we’ve got osteoarthritis here, little osteophytes pinching, getting close to squeezing your nerves, and it’s making your neck not move, which is why you can’t turn your head, like I literally couldn’t go like this. It was so bad. I mean, now I’ve got full range of movement. I just got to watch that double chin.
And I said, So what can I do about it? And she said, There’s no cure for it. There’s nothing you can do about it. She said, You can take this tablet if the pain is too much. And she’s prescribed me this, like, 24-hour painkiller thing that’s like a super Ibuprofen thing that would just rip your guts to pieces and put you in a dazey state. And I then became a bit skeptical. This just really smells a lot like a pharmaceutical company’s solution to the problem.
What I later discovered is, firstly, those tablets are not good for you. Secondly, the scans are apparently not that accurate. Like, the second time I had one, the osteophytes were less than the first time I had one, this is three years apart. And in those three years, I had help from my friend Tamas. And he gave me exercises to do, and he gave me a blowup ball to do stretches on and a movement to do near the wall.
His theory was that it’s the muscles supporting the neck, that if I could strengthen those, that then it would release the body’s need to build those osteophytes. And then he had seen evidence where they can be reduced, which the doctor told me is impossible. So that’s what it comes down to, who do you believe. But I tell you what I do believe, is that I now have a lot more range of movement and a lot less pain than I did years ago.
And I didn’t go down the path of believing I’m disabled, and that I need to take this thing. I imagine I would be overweight, unhappy, depressed, and shorten my life span, if I’d believed that path.
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