It seems like we all know someone with arthritis, but how many of us can say that we really understand the disease? In this media and technological age, it’s easy for the wrong information to spread quickly and become established as ‘fact’. Here are some of the most commonly held myths about arthritis with an explanation below.
Myth: You’re too young to have arthritis
Fact: Sad to say, you are never too young to develop a form of arthritis. Although osteoarthritis does occur more frequently after age 45, it is not an inevitable part of aging. Several factors can prevent the onset of osteoarthritis, the most important of which are exercise, diet and avoidance of injury.
Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmuine disease with similar symptoms to OA of joint pain, swelling and inflammation, can show up anywhere between ages twenty and forty and occurs more frequently in women than in men.
Myth: Once you have arthritis you’re stuck with it
Fact:Fortunately, with a combination of the advances derived from modern science as well as some of the tried and tested complementary therapies available, such as acupuncture, there are many treatment options for arthritis sufferers. Of course, the effectiveness of the different drugs and therapies will vary from individual to individual and it may take some experimentation to find out exactly what works best for you. But there’s no need to despair when faced with a diagnosis of arthritis. There’s a plethora of information available to help you choose from all the different options, and many support groups also exist to help you share your concerns and gather valuable coping information from others with the same condition.
Myth: Only Athletes Get Osteoarthritis
Fact: Unfortunately this is not true. While serious sports players may have a higher incidence of OA, anyone can still be affected by this disease, which affects the joints, particularly the knee, hip, wrists and finger joints. Certain commonplace activities can also contribute to an increased risk of developing OA, such as kneeling and squatting at work, excessive joint use in sports and other repetitive motions.
One other crucial factor that worsens the symptoms of OA is being overweight. Too much weight puts an extra burden on joints, causing them to deteriorate faster. Diet alterations can go a long way in helping a person to overcome arthritis.
Myth: Exercise will do more damage to my joints
Fact: No, you do not have to give up exercise and movement if you have arthritis. In fact, exercise is beneficial in easing the symptoms and improving joint health. Movement increases circulation to the joints, which in turn brings in vital nutrients and removes unwanted debris. Light and gentle exercise, even in the most severe cases, can go a long way to maintaining overall joint mobility. Exercise also brings the added benefits of stress relief and mood improvement. Some recommended exercise includes swimming, gentle stretching such as yoga movements, and specific exercise suggested by healthcare professionals like physical therapists.
Myth: Now I have arthritis I won’t be able to do simple things anymore
Fact: Of course you will. Although you may have to make some adjustments to the way you do things, or how frequently you do them, you don’t have to give up or become dependent on others. Thanks to the internet, many chores have become easier, including things like grocery shopping. Many of your local stores may have a delivery option too. There are also specialized products available designed to help with kitchen tasks like twisting off lids, opening jars and bottles and peeling vegetables.