What I Took For Joint Pain, (Instead of Vioxx)

I’m frustrated today.  Last night I did some nutritional counseling with some folks I’m very close to, but who aren’t exactly sure that nutritional therapies are really the way they wanna go.

At one point, I made a comment about Vioxx that I intended to be derogatory. One of the people in the room either missed the point of my comment, or ignored it and said, “AH, I know!  I SO miss Vioxx.  A few people get hurt and now the rest of us have to suffer because of it.”

Wow.

Not wanting to go very far with this, but still wanting to clarify the issue, I replied, “Yeah, a mere 100,000 people or so die from a drug, and now the party’s over!”

The person’s reply shocked me.  “That’s right.  A hundred thousand people dying represents a tinypercentage of the number of people who actually took the drug and benefited from it, and it’s aninfinitesimal percentage of the total population of the U.S.!  So yes.  I think it’s ridiculous that such a tiny percentage of people could ruin it for the rest of us.”

I wasn’t there to debate pharmaceutical industry practices.  The person who made this comment wasn’t even the person I was counseling with.  So I just let it drop. 

If it had been an actual debate, though, I would have pointed out that while the number of people who allegedly died from Vioxx is relatively small compared to the total population, it is astronomically high compared to the number of people who should have died.  The number of people who should havedied is zero!  You should have zero risk of death when you need therapy for tennis elbow!

I would have pointed out the paper trail suggesting that Merck had knowledge of the lethal potential of this drug all along, and how that data was never brought to light until a few billion dollars, (and possibly a few thousand lives), later.

I would have said that this person’s cavalier attitude probably would be different if one of the “tiny number” of people who died had been his/her own child.

I would have agreed that the number of alleged deaths from Vioxx is relatively small, but according to a Journal of the American Medical Association article, deaths from all drugs makes medicine the third leading cause of death in America, right after heart disease and cancer.  (If you include the instances of a wrong pill being taken here and there, [medical errors], medicine likely shoots up to the number onecause of death in America!)

I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.  Imagine going to your doctor because you have joint pain, and the doctor says, “Yeah, I’ve got this pill… It doesn’t make the problem go away and it doesn’t fix the actual cause of the joint pain… Ooh, and it has kind of bad history… It may have killed, like, a hundred thousand people or something… whatever… It sounds bad, but that’s really not very many people compared to, like, the world…. Anyway, it’ll probably mask the pain.  You want some?”

The simple fact is that while your doctor isn’t going to turn into a Valley Girl when she describes medicines like Vioxx, and despite the white lab coat, big words, and technical-sounding studies, some conventional medical practices and therapies just seem astonishingly stupid.  I’m sorry, but death is not an acceptable risk just to relieve something that diet and supplements can often take care of on their own.  And even if the joints are so far gone that no amount of glucosamine or spinach can help ‘em… I’m sorry, I just can’t get over that whole “death” thing.  Not for joint pain.  Maybe for something more serious.  But I suspect that our attitudes would change if every time doctors prescribed this kind of stuff to us, they said, “Take this, and you could die”.  (Amazingly, that piece of information just really never seems to come up in most clinics…)  

In March of this year, I had nearly intractable joint pain in my knees.  It’s the kind of thing that would have made me a perfect candidate for Vioxx.  It’s the kind of thing that my doctor friends, (yes, I have some), told me to take Celebrex for. 

Of course, I didn’t listen.  I had started a new exercise/diet regimen.  I kept exercising, I kept eating right, and I added three supplements specifically geared toward nourishing and lubricating the joints, (Flex Now Joint FormulaJoint Complete, and high dose MSM powder.)

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that my strategy TOTALLY FAILED… for about two months!  After about 60 days, however, Boom:  No more joint pain.  I mean ZERO joint pain at all.  And the stuff I took?  No side effects.  No potential for death.  In fact, everything I took did my body NOTHING but good.  Plus, except for the MSM that I take for other reasons, I don’t take any of those joint supplements anymore.  Done.  And no pain has returned. 

So, my strategy didn’t have instantaneous results.  But it did work.  Oh, and that whole “death” thing?  Yeah, I was never really at risk for that…

 

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