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Sergio Barrientos Arellano, Mexico

Sergio Barrientos Arellano, Mexico  

About five years ago, when I was 42 years old, I started feeling pain in one arm. The pain was so strong that I could not lift up my arm. I had to sleep sitting up because it hurt too much when I lay down. I hardly slept at all. I am a bus driver and a mechanic, I had to stop working because of the pain and because I was so tired, I slept during the day. I went to see a doctor who gave me strong pain killers. He checked me for arthritis, but he found nothing. I started working again.

After two years I started having back pain and my arm started hurting again. My bones ached: my arms, shoulders and neck. The doctor at the Social Security thought I was going to have a stroke. I had an electrocardiogram, but my heart was fine. He gave me pain killer injections and I kept going back for more injections. I thought I had bone cancer because my bones hurt so much.

My sister recommended a chiropractor in Cuernavaca. I started seeing him every other week, driving the 40 miles from my home in Mexico City, to Cuernavaca, where I stayed three days at a time. He fixed my spine and gave me homeopatic medicine; I even thought of moving to Cuernavaca, but my job is in Mexico City. I saw another chiropractor in Mexico City but he didn´t help me, so I kept going to Cuernavaca for about a year. My two sisters and one of my brothers had the same problem.

I was very frustrated and getting desperate because I thought there was no real solution, when my wife heard a radio program where they spoke about osteoporosis and gave a phone number. She called COMOP for information, our local Mexican Committee for Prevention of Osteoporosis, and took her mother for a DXA scan. When she realized it was a bone study, she said, "Why don't you go there? You've got nothing to lose, you may even get better." I thought, "That can't be the answer, osteoporosis is a woman's disease," but I was desperate. When I arrived at the clinic, there were only women there. They gave me a questionnaire for women, it had questions about menstruation, menopause, etc. My wife even made some jokes about it but I had a DXA scan and it showed I had osteoporosis. The doctor told me I had bones of a 60 year old and that they were so fragile they could break at any moment.

Treatment began right away but I was very scared. I stopped working as a mechanic because I was afraid something could fall on me and break a bone, I only supervised the mechanics and drivers. I hardly went out because I was depressed. After some months I had a lab test which showed that the treatment was working. This made me feel a little better, but my bones were still fragile. I started exercising. I would take the medicine early in the morning and since I could not eat or lie down for a while I went out for a walk, about an hour every day.

At my last DXA scan some months ago, it showed that my bones are getting better. I feel a lot better now that I am doing something for my bones, not only the medication, but I am exercising and eating better. If anyone suffers from bone pain, they should have their bones examined. I did not know there were bone tests. I am very lucky because I have never had a fracture, the pain warned me, but I know many people don't realize they have osteoporosis until they break a bone. I now understand why they call it "the silent epidemic". There should be more awareness campaigns directed to men, as is done for cancer, in which they encourage men to have check ups. Many people don't have tests taken because they think there is no cure for this disease. It is very important to have a DXA scan, and I can testify that bones can get stronger, I am living proof of it.

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