The Story in Brief

The Break the Grip Story in Brief:
Arthritis and Other Common Scapegoats

The idea for a book and now this website was born out of necessity.  It became obvious to me after treating thousands of patients over fifteen years that most people had a serious misunderstanding about the cause of their body’s aches and pains.  Usually this is a result of being misdiagnosed by their family physician or orthopedic specialist. 

“I have neck pain but my doctor says it’s arthritis,” or
"My back’s been hurting but I’m told it’s because of a bulging disc,” are common examples. 

Unfortunately, these misdiagnoses not only lead to ineffective and often harmful medical procedures, but also prevents people from addressing the real source of their pain and problems.  So let’s start to dispel some myths and clear up some misinformation on our way to curing what ails you…   

What the Source of Musculoskeletal Pain Typically Isn't:

  • Arthritis

  • Herniated or Bulging Discs

  • Degenerative Disease

  • Spinal Stenosis

  • Meniscal or Rotator Cuff Tears

  • Other findings typically reported on x-rays and MRIs. 

The most common mainstream medical myth regarding the source of musculoskeletal pain is that it is caused by arthritis or other radiologic findings like those listed above.  It is well known in the medical field—though somehow not translated well to patients—that well-designed studies cited in the medical literature clearly demonstrate a disconnect between pain and those radiologic findings.  They do this by proving that significant numbers of people with no complaints of pain can be found to have conditions like arthritis, spinal stenosis, herniated discs, and tears in the linings of joints if subjected to testing; while those who do suffer from acute and chronic neck, shoulder, back, hip, and knee pain are frequently found to lack such positive radiologic findings. 

Taken together, this means that we can’t assume arthritis causes neck pain, herniated discs or stenosis cause back pain, or meniscal and labral tears create knee or hip pain.  There must be something else going on.  And of course there is, confirmed in offices like mine everyday by practitioners who don’t rely on x-rays and MRIs—great tools for finding fractures or tumors but poor at diagnosing common musculoskeletal problems—and use their hands to diagnose and treat the misalignment and tension prevalent in a body that’s in pain. 

While we’re on the subject of what the source of musculoskeletal pain typically isn’t, I’d like to include two currently popular ideas you may have heard of:

Repressed negative emotions and low-level whole-body inflammation 

Though they may be real—and probably affect just about all of us—repressed negative emotions and low-level whole body inflammation are also not the typical cause of left-sided neck pain when sitting at the computer, right shoulder pain when sleeping on the side, left hip pain when walking up a staircase, or low back pain after lifting a grandchild, as experienced by the teachers, financial advisors, artists, and retired seniors that I’ve been treating for the past fifteen years.  More than likely, emotional stress (repressed or otherwise), inflammation, changes in the weather, working too much, and sleeping too little are part of a longer list of triggers that can irritate the already weakened and compromised areas of the physical body. 

What the Source of Musculoskeletal Pain Usually Is:

Misalignment and tension caused by a compromised posture as a result of our modern work and play habits—driving, sitting, desk and computer use, smart phone and tablet use, watching TV or reading in bed—combined with a lifetime of minor slips and falls, cause more musculoskeletal aches and pains than all other causes combined. 

What happens is that the body gets gripped and molded over time.  You can see this in the posture of middle and older aged people—their head creeps forward on their trunk, their upper backs and shoulders round, they become slightly bent over at the waist, and their legs and feet frequently turn outward.  The end result of these subtle changes in the body is tension, friction, and irritation creating soft tissue problems like tendonitis and muscle spasms; joint issues like bursitis and meniscal tears; bony anomalies like bone spurs and bunion formation; and generalized arthritis, stiffness, and weakness. 

So it’s the grip on the body over time that causes the pain and problems that become more and more common as we age—reflected in those degenerative findings seen on radiologic films.  Breaking that grip is not only the way to eliminate musculoskeletal pain, but also is key to restoring health to the body as a whole.  This fact was not lost on the Father of Western Medicine who said:

”Physical structure is the basis of medicine”



What Effective Actions Can Be Done to Prevent and Cure It:

Breaking the grip of pain on the body is my life’s work and is the subject of my yet-to-be published book, and will be the topic of ongoing newsletters.

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