Oct 15, 2018

Regain: Five Common Arthritis Myths Busted

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Approximately 40 million people in the United States are affected by arthritis. Despite these staggering statics that show that this disease is widespread, many people don’t really understand what it is, how it affects us, and what we can do to ease the pain. A good place to start educating ourselves is by determining what isn’t true. Today, we’re going to debunk five common myths about arthritis and joint pain. Hopefully learning what’s true and what’s not when it comes to arthritis will help empower our patients to take control of their health and find the relief they seek.

Arthritis is a part of aging.

While arthritis is more common among older generations, it is not just a part of the normal aging process. Unfortunately, arthritis can happen to anyone – from babies to teenagers and adults. By dismissing arthritis as a normal part of aging, many people will not seek the treatment and resources they need to improve their condition.

You cannot exercise if you have arthritis.

If you have arthritis, not only should you not be avoiding exercise, but the right fitness program could help you find relief from your symptoms. A proper regime will improve strength, balance, flexibility and range of motion. Inactivity can cause joints to deteriorate and promote weight gain, which puts even more pressure on already strained joints. The best workouts for arthritis sufferers are low-impact exercises such as water aerobics, swimming or walking. Tai Chi and yoga are a great choices as well because they help strengthen the muscles around the joints helping them resist wear and tear.

Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis.

“Don’t crack your knuckles, you will get arthritis!” Your mother scolded you whenever she heard that well-known pop. While mother knows best about almost everything, this is one thing she got wrong. While the relief can be satisfying, one thing is certain: what you hear is not the sound of your bones. That cracking sound is actually caused by excess nitrogen gas popping between your joints and there is no known link between cracking your knuckles and an increased risk in developing arthritis. However, a study from Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center did find a link between cracking knuckles and injuries to the ligaments and tendons surrounding the joints, which could weaken a person’s grip over time. So you may want to break your knuckle-cracking habit anyway, just to be on the safe side.

Diet doesn’t affect arthritis.

A healthy diet is a crucial factor in managing arthritis because your overall health is very important. Keeping up an ideal body weight is essential for optimal joint health. This is especially important for our weight bearing joints, such as knees and hips. For many, weight gain is a vicious cycle for their body. The more weight that is gained, the more pain that occurs in the joint area and the more difficult it becomes to keep moving. The less we move, the more weight we gain. If you are not at your ideal weight, create an achievable goal to lose just a few pounds. A 2005 study in Arthritis & Rheumatism of overweight and obese adults with knee osteoarthritis found that losing one pound of weight resulted in four pounds of pressure being removed from the knees. That means that losing just 10 pounds would relieve 40 pounds of stress from your knees. To help aid your weight loss goals, make “super foods” a part of your daily diet. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals such as salmon, bananas, lentils and sweet potatoes not only aid in weight loss but help with arthritis pain. A Mediterranean style diet that includes olive oil, lean meats, fish, vegetables, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids is a good place for arthritis sufferers to start. So next time you’re at the super market, pick up some flax seed oil and pile in those omegas.

I can’t do anything about it.

Arthritis can greatly impact your life, especially if it effects weight-bearing joints or if you work with your hands, but don’t give up. There’s a lot you can do to take control of your life and manage your disease. After finding out what type of arthritis you have, the first step may be weight loss because a lighter load will lessen pressure and pain put on your joints. Exercise, a healthy diet, and necessary medications can often help those suffering from most types of arthritis. In addition, pain relief treatments, such as medications, infusion therapies, or cortisone shots may also be an option. One of the most important things you can do to gain control is consult with a quality rheumatologist who will make you and your health a priority. At Carolina Arthritis, we have seven expert doctors who are all educated, knowledgeable, and skilled. If you are considering consulting a rheumatologist, make Carolina Arthritis Associates your first call. Together we will explore your options and determine a treatment plan that works for you.

Don’t let these common myths fool you into letting your life with arthritis pass you by. If you suffer from arthritis or joint pain, there are a number of options available to you at Carolina Arthritis. Contact us today to learn more about living a pain-free life.