Myths and Facts of Arthritis
Arthritis is a condition that results in pain and inflammation in joints. There are two main types of arthritis: Osteoarthritis(OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis(RA). Though arthritis is a very common condition, there are lots of myths around its nature, progress, and treatment options.
OA the most common form of arthritis occurs when the cartilage that sits between the bones in a joint wears down. It is also referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis and is a leading cause of disability among older adults.
RA occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy body tissue. It causes damage to the joints but can also affect muscles, connective tissue, tendons, and fibrous tissue. It tends to appear earlier in life than OA typically between the ages of 20 and 40 years and it can severely affect day-to-day activities.
Apart from OA and RA, there are several other forms of arthritis, including:
- Juvenile arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Infectious and reactive arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
Common myths related to Arthritis:
Myth1: Only older adults develop arthritis
Arthritis is more common in older adults, but it can affect people of any age. As mentioned above, RA tends to present in people aged 20–40.
Myth 2: If your joints hurt, it is arthritis
This is not true. Not all joint pain is arthritis, and not all joint discomfort is a sign that arthritis will develop later. There are many possible causes of pain in and around the joints, including tendinitis, bursitis, and injuries.
Myth 3: People with arthritis should not exercise
Exercise is not generally an activity that people with arthritis need to avoid, although they should speak with their doctor before beginning a regimen. Exercise can help maintain range of motion and strength in the joints.
Exercise and arthritis can and should coexist. People with arthritis who exercise regularly have less pain, more energy, improved sleep, and better day-to-day function. Exercise should be one of the mainstays of treatment for OA of the hip and knee.
Myth 4: Heat is better than ice for sore joints
This is not true. Both ice and heat can soothe sore joints.
Used in the right way, heat can help reduce pain and stiffness in joints and muscles. The cold application can help reduce joint inflammation and swelling
People should use heat before exercise, when a joint is stiff, and when they experience pain. Cold can also relieve pain, and it might also be useful if the joint is inflamed, particularly if there is swelling after activity.
Myth 5: Arthritis is not preventable
It is not possible to prevent every case of arthritis, as some risk factors, such as advancing age, are not modifiable. However, people can eliminate or minimize certain risk factors to prevent the onset of arthritis or slow its progression. For instance, people with excess body weight have an increased risk of developing knee OA. Maintaining a moderate weight can lower arthritis risk. Smoking tobacco is also associated with an increased risk of developing RA. Quitting smoking will reduce the risk and bring a range of other health benefits. Also, as arthritis can develop following injuries, protecting the joints during sports or other physical activity can help reduce the risk of developing arthritis in later life.
Myth 6: After receiving a diagnosis, there is nothing you can do
Although there is often no cure for the disease, its course varies depending on the type of arthritis. Medications are available that can help reduce the symptoms of many types of arthritis and slow disease progression. People can also adopt certain lifestyle measures to slow the progression of some types of arthritis, such as maintaining a moderate weight, quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep.
Myth7: Weather changes can make arthritis worse
There is a persistent claim that rain and damp weather makes arthritis symptoms worse. However, it is not conclusive, and the weather does not seem to affect everyone with arthritis.
Despite advances in the medical field, we still have much to learn about arthritis. However, we do know that by maintaining a lifestyle that includes exercise and a nutritious, balanced diet, we can reduce the risk of some types of arthritis and slow their progression. As scientists continue to investigate these conditions, better treatments are sure to arise.
- Arthritis, Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350772
- Arthritis Health Center, WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/default.htm
- Arthritis, Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/arthritis
About Author –
Dr. Shashi Kanth G, Sr. Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad
He is specialized in arthroscopy, sports medicine, and orthopedics. His expertise includes Lower Limb Joint Replacement Surgery, Lower Limb Arthroscopy, Sports Injuries, Foot and Ankle Surgery, & Management of Complex Trauma.