Clarence Clemens of the E Street band; were his physical problems a result of bad medicine?
Clarence Clemens, otherwise known by Bruce Springsteen as “The big man” was featured in many of Bruce Springsteen’s most famous songs and performances.
He died in 2011 after having numerous physical problems resulting in knee and hip replacements as well as back surgery that fused his Lower spine. This was reported in an interview by Rolling Stone Magazine four months before his death from a stroke.
He was only 69 years old when he died. While Mr. Clemens no doubt had highly skilled surgeons operating on him during the years, could he still be alive had he taken a different healthcare path?
Many of us know people who have had similar care. Often people never walk the same after having surgery to replace knee or hip joints and chronic pain is a typical outcome from the scars, infections and alterations in how we walk.
In the book, Cheating Mother Nature, it discusses the effect of mechanical problems inherited from our parents and how it affects the body as we age.
While Mr. Clemens was tall, the height and weight he carried with poor body mechanics as seen in this classic photo caused irreparable knee and hip damage over years of usage. The effect on the way he walked eventually caused spinal damage as well.
If this sounds a lot like Mr. Clemen’s experience, its because as the book explains, there is a commonality to the model in the book of why people suffer from chronic pain and the path he took to stay relevant as his health deteriorated.
If you look closely at his stance, you can see the problem. Mr. Clemens had overpronated feet that fall in and asymmetry in his stance. The feet caused him to develop knock knee’s which we can clearly see in these photos. The combination of foot overpronation which in this photo is more accentuated on the left side, the right foot flare, the secondary stress on his knees causing them to bow in eventually irreparably damaged his hips and the knees. Over time, the effects on his structure also caused degenerative processes in his lower back.
If you look closely on this rear view photo, notice that his foot falls in on the left side and his right foot turns out, while his left knee rolls in. This was his normal way of walking since he was about 6 years old.
As explained in Cheating Mother Nature, prior to that, we are in toddler gait and are all flat-footed. At the age of 6, we walk more like we would in adulthood. If we are always stiff, we are used to it and think that its normal. If we hurt, we consider it abnormal and if it does not resolve itself, we are more likely to visit healthcare providers. If we ignore it for years, we will experience chronic pain and can destroy the joints in the knee, ankle, hip, and spine will be affected over time. This eventually is what happened to Mr. Clemens.
If you read his interview in Rolling Stone and look at these photos, you can understand why he eventually saw an orthopedic to replace the damaged joints. If he was given better advice years before, he may have acted pro-actively and seen a chiropractor, it is likely he may have had different advice and care. The family believed that he could have been taken care of more safely as well, and the family sued the three doctors who treated him before his death.
Were the three doctors the problem, or does the case show that the practice of medicine is simply the wrong place to go for mechanical problems that result in joint damage? The idea that we are not the sum of our parts is a reductionist idea imparted by modern allopathic medicine and why we now have an opioid problem. Reductionist approaches to body mechanics lead doctors to poor conclusions on why joint pain exists because they are not seeing the full picture and all the data. This had led to a business that replaces joints that are damaged by body mechanics that, while not preventable, may be improved with foot orthotics and many conservative management techniques that are a healthier option.
You cannot accurately assess most knees for instance without looking at the ankle, foot, hip, and back that affect it. Many doctors have done arthroscopic surgery on peoples knees, only to do a second, then a third without solving the real problem which is how things work. This idea has recently been reiterated by a recent study in the British Medical Journal.
While we appreciated Mr. Clemen’s contribution to music and the E-Street band, perhaps, had his health been managed naturally and holistically, he might continue to be a productive musician today.
Mr. Clemen’s nephew Jake Clemens-Alchetron has likely inherited many of his family’s genetic traits, and there is a likelihood. He does have an advantage since he can perhaps think differently and perhaps, use a chiropractor who will look at him, rather than just his symptoms.
When the joints are irreparably damaged, it is too late. Preventing problems is far safer and effective than dealing with the damage years later. The best time to address mechanical problems in the body is when you are young.
Mr. Clemens may have benefited by wearing foot orthotics, chiropractic manipulation, and the right exercises to strengthen his core muscles which would reduce the strain on his hips and knees. Perhaps his nephew Jake Clemens-Alchetron will see this post and benefit from his new awareness of his body and how he can avoid the same fate as his uncle.