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Myth Busters II: I'm Going to Wear Out My Joints.

Sara Shupe, MSPT, Dip. MDT is a physical therapist specialist and founder of J.O.Y. Physical Therapy Inc, a mobile, tele-health, and chat physical therapy provider servicing the Twin Cities Metro Area, greater Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Sara has presented early access models of mechanical diagnosis and therapy (MDT) in the treatment of low back pain to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) of MN, National Association of Spine Society (NASS) in San Diego and Utah, and The international MDT Conference in Miami, FL. Sara lives in Eagan, MN with her family. 

This is the second of a 6-part blog series on busting the common myths of back pain, musculoskeletal problems and physical therapy. This blog tackles the false belief that humans can "wear out" joints with exercise and/or activity. Most of these myths come from the preface of fear of the down stream effect of running or other high-level exercise. 

We are all like our cars. 

Now, I'm just a therapist, but I have found that analogies to the automobile industry can spark interest in others who do not find the human body as fascinating as I do. For those on thunder road, I give you the example of the piston. It is a force-transducer. It requires lubrication for optimal functioning. If it is parked during our wonderfully prolonged Minnesota and Wisconsin winters without use, it stiffens, and eventually rusts, leading to a need to replace them to enable to owner to use the car once again. 

Joints with cartilage, especially weight-bearing joints, are very similar. They are designed to distribute and absorb load (i.e. the impact of running, stair climbing etc). They are filled with lubrication called synovial fluid. When left for long moments of time without use (i.e. the sedentary lifestyle or lack of exercise), the tissues in and around the joint stiffen, shorten and/or weaken from disuse. 

Will running give me arthritis?

Not convinced yet? Well, The idea that running causes osteoarthritis has been studied. In July 2013, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise published a study that followed 14,000 runners and nearly 70,000 walkers during a seven-year period to see if the runners had a higher incidence of osteoarthritis. The results turned out negative. In fact, runners had a lower incidence of both osteoarthritis and hip replacements than habitual walkers of the same demographics. The authors attributed this in part to the lower body mass index of runners compared to those who participated in other exercises.

Which came first? Do they have lower body mass because they run? Or do they successfully run because they have lower body mass? I would argue my "your-knee-is-like-the-piston-in-your-car" theory I outlined above: The lower incidences of arthritis is due to proper USE of the joint.

It is very unfortunate that Xray use in the diagnosis and treatment of hip and knee increases every year. The reports they generate often include words like "arthritis" and “degeneration" when it describes your knee or hip. For this and other fear-producing reasons, the science does not recommend the use of the Xray for the otherwise healthy person with no recent history of trauma. These scans also demonstrate a lack of validity -  Xrays can describe "abnormalities" 40-60% of the time in people without pain. If you are blessed to have more white hair than I, that number jumps to 100%! 

Well, It hurts. How do I proceed safely?

At J.O.Y. Physical Therapy Inc., we are experts trained in a method called Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT). It has been demonstrated in more than 50 RCT (Random Control Trials) to be one of the most reliable, valid and efficient methods in physical therapy today. Using this method will reduce your fear; and return your sense of control, and get you back to your exercise of choice in less than half the time of standard physical therapy!

This is Good News!

enJ.O.Y the experience today at www.joy-pt.com or call 651-800-MYPT 

Not in MN or WI? Go to www.mckenzieinstituteusa.org to find a MDT Provider near you.

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