Article #4: How to Deal With Bursitis by Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
At intervals, U.S. News and World Report, which conceives it a duty to the public to keep them informed on the “progress” of medical mischievousness, has one of its reporters interview some little gutta percha god of medicine on some subject and give the results to its readers. In its issue of January 11, 1960, it published an interview with Joseph J. Bunim, M.D., of the National Institute of Health, under the misleading title: “Bursitis: Latest on its Cause and Cure.” It declares Bunim to be one of the “nation’s top notch authorities on rheumatic diseases,” a distinction he seems to have acquired by being ignorant of the “diseases” in which he has specialized. His “latest” is old stuff that has been to the cleaners.
Our grandfathers used to suffer with what was called rheumatism. Rheumatism was a blanket term that covered a wide variety of pains and inflammations in various parts of the body. They had “muscular rheumatism,” “articular rheumatism,” “sciatica,” “lumbago,” “pleurodynia,” and other “forms” of rheumatism. Nobody has rheumatism today, for the old “disease” has been run through a food chopper and so fragmentized that today we have a whole variety of “diseases” as substitutes for rheumatism. We have “neuralgia,” “neuritis,” “sciatica” (which is a neuritis), “fibrosis,” “arthritis,” “myositis” “bursitis,” etc. Just as arthritis may develop in any movable joint and neuritis may develop along the course of any nerve, so fibrositis may develop in any fibrous tissue, myositis may develop in any muscular tissue and bursitis may develop in any bursa. “Itis” is a little Greek word meaning inflammation, which is used as-a suffix. When added to the name of an organ or part, it indicates inflammation in that organ or part. Thus, all of these separate diseases, in many different locations are but local inflammations. Their names do not seem to be important.
I quote the following words from a standard textbook on the practice of medicine: “The etiology (cause) is unknown.” This is the gist of the statements concerning cause that one finds in all of the standard texts and reference works dealing with these so-called diseases. Sometimes we get such stupidities as “many patients notice a direct relation between exacerbations of muscular symptoms and infections of the upper respiratory tract, influenza, exposure to damp and cold weather, fatigue and overexertion.” The authors of these ponderous works devote much attention to “diagnosis” and “differential diagnosis” and recommend measures of treatment that, at their best, are merely palliative; at their worst, are more harmful than the cause of the disease for which they are administered. Never do they suggest removing cause—how could they, when they confess ignorance of cause? They advise protecting these patients against respiratory infections, but neglect to explain how this is to be done.
Bursitis is one of these “rheumatic diseases” that have taken the place of the rheumatism of our grandfathers. It is inflammation of a bursa. A bursa is a small sac interposed between movable parts for purposes of lubrication. Bunim explains that a bursa is “a small sac containing fluid, which is usually situated between a tendon and the bone over which the tendon glides.” He says that “tennis elbow” and “housemaid’s knee” are good examples of bursitis. He differentiates bursitis from arthritis by saying that arthritis is inflammation of the intrinsic structure of a joint, such as the lining of the joint, or the cartilage or the capsule, whereas, the bursa lies outside of the joint and is not part of the joint. This means that, while bursitis is contiguous to the joint, and often seems to be in the joint, it is only close to the joint.
When asked if “we” are getting closer to an answer to bursitis, Bunim declared that “we” know much more about bursitis as a result of research which has been done on changes in the body’s tissues in the areas of bursitis. This only means that they have made more extensive studies of local pathology, not that they know any more about inflammation now than they did ten years ago. He says that they hope to learn more about the process which results in bursitis and adds that during the past ten years more research has been done on this subject than during the previous century. What he failed to add is that, with all’ this research, they are still ignorant of the cause of bursitis. Injury and overstrain and aging are about’ the only “causes” they recognize.
“There is no cure, as yet,” he says, but he states that there are several measures that can be utilized for relief of pain. Every time we read a medical treatise on any so-called disease, we run up against the same state of affairs. “There is no cure,” but we can provide evanescent “relief.” Medicine is a system of spectacular palliation. When asked if he thought that medical research will find “an answer to bursitis,” Dr. Bunim stated that he is not sure that they will find an immediate answer, but “we certainly hope to learn more about the process which results in bursitis from a greater knowledge of the chemistry and metabolism of connective tissue, because the basic trouble is degeneration of connective tissue.” There seems to me to be a note of pessimism and doubt in that answer. There is also the fallacy that the “basic trouble” is the end point of the process. Tissue degeneration is not cause. It is effect—long-range effect.
Dr. Bunim says that “since we do not yet have means for eliminating the cause” they cannot cure bursitis. So they treat the local area with X rays, with surgery, apply heat, administer aspirin or other analgesic (pain killer or patient-killer, depending on the point of view), but they cannot provide more than temporary relief by such measures. There is a lot of guess work, as he frankly admits, connected with the physician’s care of the patient with bursitis and they guess about how the “relief” they afford is accomplished. He is sure that the steroids (probably ACTH and cortisone) that have been recently employed in the treatment of arthritis may be used in bursitis, but they are not to be given orally. They must be injected at the site of the inflammation. If they are no more successful in bursitis than in arthritis, one can only wonder why they should be used.
When asked: “Is there research aimed at developing drugs specifically for bursitis?” he replied: “There is. Research for new drugs is continuing all the time in hopes of finding a drug which would be as effective or as potent an agent as the steroids which are now in use, but would have less toxic effects or would not have the potential hazards and the undesirable side effects that the current steroids have.”
That about sums it up. They are searching for a drug. The medical mind can think only in terms of drugs. They must have a drug; they hope to find one that will be effective as a means of “relief” or cure and will not have side effects, will not be poisonous. They are forever engaged in searching for that which does not exist. Whether it is bursitis, arthritis, the common cold, pneumonia or any other so-called disease, they are searching for a drug. For twenty-five hundred years they have been searching for drug;. They have found and used hundreds of thousands of thorn. They have all proved to be toxic. They have been hazards. They have all produced undesirable side effects. But they have never lost hope. They are still searching for a poison that is not a poison.
The remedy for bursitis is so simple that a child may apply it with far greater success than the learned medical profession and all of its “top-notch authorities” now apply their doubtful means of palliation. When once it is learned that toxemia is the basic cause of tissue inflammation, that injuries heal quickly in the nontoxemic, that recovery from overexertion is rapid when the individual is not toxic, that fatigue is speedily recovered from by the man or woman of pure blood, and that no inflammatory condition lasts beyond the removal of its cause, it will be readily seen that the remedy for bursitis is the simple one of detoxification. Rest of the injured and inflamed part is essential; often rest of the whole body is important. Certainly, if one is suffering from fatigue, the only means of recuperation is rest. If one has overexerted a part, it needs rest. If there is inflammation in a part of the body, it should be set at rest. This is often all that is required for recovery from slight cases of bursitis. A fast will be needed in the more severe cases. If the pain is great, heat to the painful area will provide relief. No drugs should ever be employed for relief of pain.
Bursitis develops in the toxemic; it does not evolve in the man of pure blood. An injury will result in inflammation in both the toxemic and the nontoxemic, but in the nontoxemic healing is rapid; in the toxemic it is slow and often drawn out. Indeed, if the toxemia is not eliminated, it may not occur at all. Bunim says that the physician knows that sooner or later the bursitis will come to a natural termination, that it is a self-limited condition. This simply means that recovery is spontaneous and that the treatments of the physician have no office in producing the recovery, What he fails to say is that the meddling of the physician-often prolongs the trouble for weeks and months. All systems of cure ride to glory on the self-healing powers of the body, which is all that is inferred in the statement that a disease is self-limited.
Bunim discusses calcium deposits in bursitis and also abscess formation in some cases. He also describes adhesions and more or less permanent limitation of movement of the joint. None of this need occur even in the most severe cases if fasting is immediately instituted. If the fast is resorted to at a later date, this is to say, after calcium deposits have occurred, the fast will result in the absorption and removal of the calcium. Bunim teaches at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities, is on the staff of the Walter Reed Hospital, edits the Bulletin on Rheumatic Diseases, “pioneered” the use of synthetic cortisone-like drugs, is clinical director of the Government’s National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases, “where he directs research and evaluates treatments in arthritis,” but he has not and he will not evaluate any common sense methods of care of arthritis or bursitis. He is wedded to drugs and is incapable of conceiving of any care that does not involve poisoning the patient. He will not do any research into the subject of fasting and he will not evaluate it. Intelligent readers will not be misled by his self-imposed blindness.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Structure And Function Of Joints
- 3. Types Of Arthritis
- 4. Why You Have Arthritis
- 5. Treatments
- 6. Erroneuous Theories
- 7. What To Do If You Have Arthritis
- 8. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: Why You Have Arthritis By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #2: Arthritis By Dr. Robert R. Gross
- Article #3: Well! You Wanted to Know! By V. V. Vetrano, B.S., D.C., M.D.
- Article #4: How to Deal With Bursitis by Dr. Herbert M. Shelton