Large-scale cohort studies have a tough time proving that one thing causes another, but they can raise interesting questions about strong correlations. This week, for instance, saw a published study which found that people who drink more milk may have less pain and slower progression of osteoarthritis, an affliction which strikes roughly a third of adults in the U.S.:

[The researchers] found that increasing milk consumption was associated with slower progression of the disease in women. In men, only those who consumed the most milk — seven or more glasses a week — saw the effect. More than 90 percent of the people in the study drank fat-free or low-fat milk, and the study did not find the effect with cheese and other dairy products.

It is possible, of course, that people who drink more milk are just healthier in every way, and that the milk is merely a signpost of that lifestyle than the cause of arthritis prevention. But we can safely assume that the milk isn’t causing any joint distress – and that upping your intake of liquid dairy may, in fact, represent a doorway to safer living.  That being said, it is extremely important for growing children, lactating women, and postmenopausal women to ensure adequate calcium intake.  That threshold may more easily be met with calcium supplements.  Most of the better quality supplements will also have the necessary Vitamin D dosage as well.  For further details reach out to your primary care physician or me to answer your questions.

We’ve spent lots of time in previous posts to discuss how to manage arthritis.  We have now also touched on measures to try to prevent it.  So try it if you like and see if that glass a day keeps the knee pain at bay. As an expert in orthopedic surgery, I have certainly seen enough chronic joint pain to know that every preventive measure is worth a shot.


A provocative article in last week’s New York Times discusses the quiet epidemic of older people living with serious pain who fail to report it to their doctors. Whether it’s due to stoicism, resignation, or something else, the net effect can be devastating:

[S]tudies have found that elderly patients are less likely than younger adults to report pain to their doctors. Instead, many suffer in silence at considerable cost to the quality of their lives. . . .

Untreated or inadequately treated pain is disabling and can hasten the death of an older adult by interfering with the ability to exercise, eat properly or maintain social contacts. Persistent pain can lead to immobility, depression, sleep problems, loss of appetite and isolation, all of which may increase the need for expensive medical care.

The article addresses cases of shoulder pain, hip pain and knee pain. Each could have been addressed earlier with proper orthopedic care, especially in cases where arthritic pain has led to a vicious cycle of immobility and declining health.

Agonizing pain is not a natural byproduct of aging, and no one should accept its arrival as a sort of grim “new normal.” If you have chronic knee, shoulder, elbow or hip pain and desire expert orthopedic care in San Diego, please contact my offices.

© 2023 Dr. Robert Afra – San Diego Orthopedic Surgery Shoulder – Knee – Elbow