Busting open some of the confusing ideas and myths of arthritis

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There is much confusion and many common myths about the condition of arthritis. Arthritis is one of the most regularly diagnosed conditions in the United States, with at least 50 million Americans experiencing some form of inflammatory disease. However, notwithstanding how common arthritis is, misconceptions and myths can confuse patients seeking assistance for their symptoms and learning how to improve their quality of life. Here we look at just a few of the most repeated myths.

Myth 1: Arthritis is an old person’s disease.

Arthritis can affect people of any age. There are children in our juvenile arthritis group as young as three. It affects infants, children, teenagers, young adults, mothers, workers, sports people, ballet dancers, middle-aged, and older people.

More than 60 percent of people with arthritis are of working age.

Myth 2: Arthritis is not a serious health problem, it is just minor aches and pains

Arthritis is a severe health problem. It is the primary cause of chronic pain and disability. It a familiar and much feared chronic condition across the population. The more aggressive types of inflammatory arthritis (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis) are profoundly serious, significant, and painful systemic diseases.

Arthritis is the second most common reason people visit a doctor (first being colds and the flu); it is equal to accidents as the primary reason for time off work, making it a high cost to businesses. If left untreated, arthritis can become a significant health problem. The human cost of arthritis is immeasurable. It causes pain, misery, and disability to millions of families.

Myth 3: Nothing can be done; you just have to put up with it.

There is a great deal you can do to help manage arthritis: There are many promising therapies for arthritic conditions, ranging from medications and joint replacement surgery through to natural and herbal remedies, magnets, mobility aids and devices, home fisio kits and many things you can do to help yourself, such as hydrotherapy, gentle exercise groups, Tai Chi, massage, walking, social and support groups, laughter therapy groups and self-management courses.

Do not let what you cannot do get in the way of the things you can.

Myth 4: Exercise makes arthritis worse

Absolutely not! Quite the opposite – exercise improves arthritis. It is the best thing you can do to help your joints. It is vital to keep moving, move it, or lose it! However, it is wise to start small and build up gradually. Exercise does not mean puffing and panting in leotards at a gym; exercise is moving; that is all.

Myth 5: Cold weather causes arthritis

If this were true, everyone living in a cold country would have arthritis, and no one in the tropics would. Arthritis is everywhere. Certainly cold, wet weather often makes arthritis pain worse, and warmth improves it. Heat is soothing, and any heat helps – a hot bath or shower, hot water bags, heat packs, etc. In winter, most people with arthritis cope better if they keep themselves warm and dry, but some people will suffer more in hot, humid weather. We are all different.

Myth 6: Diet causes arthritis

Some foods and drinks can aggravate arthritis in some people. There is no magic diet for all people because we are all different, and we all react differently to foods. Some people can tolerate tomatoes; some cannot. Some are better with less red meat, and some cannot eat pork. All we can safely say is that foods high in cholesterol, junk and processed foods, and too many takeaways are not suitable for people with arthritis (or anyone else for that matter).

Fish is mostly useful for pain levels because of the anti-inflammatory effects of omega 3s. Most fruits and veggies are an excellent choice for most arthritis sufferers, but it is worth checking for yourself with all foods. A nutritious, balanced diet is the best option to help relieve arthritis and maintain good health and well-being. Sustaining a healthy weight is also important as being overweight puts added stress on our joints.


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