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Orthopedic health should be part of preventative discussion

Posted: February 24, 2012 - 10:08am

I am writing in response to your article, "Good at heart: Presenters talk heart health, disease prevention at seminar" (Clarion, Feb. 19) which refers to the impact preventative medicine can have in our lives.  Sleater and Rogers stories demonstrate the control we can have over our lives, despite challenging genetic predispositions.

Non-infectious disease processes can most commonly be broken down to into genetic or environmental  factors, or both. Some disease processes are primarily of genetic origin, such as muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis, however these actually represent a small number of the afflictions people suffer from in our communities. Most diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc, are caused by a combination of factors including lifestyle, social, political, and economic circumstances.

The control we have over how these diseases affect our lives may be quite surprising to many. Even when a very high genetic determinant exists, many can avoid or minimize the effects of diseases all together with preventative practices.

Preventative medicine is rapidly becoming common language in our society and among healthcare professionals. Measures such as diet, exercise, rest, regular check-ups, and hygiene are at the center of our concept of living healthy to prevent diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and vascular diseases. Stress tests, prostrate screens, yearly mammograms are known essentials, but what about our orthopedic health? This area is too often dismissed in preventative medicine discussions and forums.

With aging populations living longer and demanding more active lifestyles, the need to maintain orthopedic health and prevent orthopedic disease is paramount. I argue that an orthopedic check-up may be just as important to prevent/delay the effects of osteoarthritis and other severe joint diseases.

Certainly, priority lies with the prevention of those disease affecting our systems and systemic organs; but perhaps it's time to broaden our view of just what it means to stay healthy to include the orthopedic health of our bones, joints, and muscles.

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