Have You Bought Into These Arthritis Myths?


Myth 1: Exercise doesn’t help arthritis, and in fact makes the condition worse.

Fact: Proper exercise performed on a regular basis is an important part of arthritis treatment, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Twenty years ago, doctors advised exactly the opposite, fearing that activity would cause more damage and inflammation. However, not exercising causes weak muscles, stiff joints, reduced mobility, and lost vitality, say rheumatologists, who now routinely advise a balance of physical activity and rest.

Three main types of exercises are recommended:

Range-of-motion … moving a joint as far as it will comfortably go and then stretching it a little further to increase and maintain joint mobility, decrease pain, and improve joint function. These can be done at least every other day.

Strengthening … using muscles without moving joints to help increase muscle strength and stabilize weak joints. These can be done at least every other day, unless there is severe pain or swelling.

Endurance … aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming and bicycling to strengthen the heart and lungs and increase stamina. These should be done for 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week, unless there is severe pain or swelling.

Myth 2: Arthritis only affects older people.

Fact: While it is true that arthritis becomes more common as people age, arthritis may begin at any age, including childhood. Nearly three of every five sufferers are under age 65. Conversely, some elderly people never develop arthritis.

Myth 3: Arthritis is nothing more than minor aches and pains.

Fact: Arthritis can be permanently debilitating. Many forms of arthritis or musculoskeletal conditions are self-limited and get better without specific treatment. Others, however, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may be quite serious and may affect the body’s internal organs as well as the joints.

Arthritis already affects more than 42 million Americans in its chronic form, including 300,000 children. By 2020, CDC estimates that 60 million people will be affected, and that more than 11 million will be disabled.

Myth 4: A warm climate will cure arthritis.

Fact: Arthritis occurs in all parts of the world. Many people do notice that a difference in the weather can cause their arthritis to flare, but for most people, moving to a different climate does not make a big enough difference to justify moving.

Myth 5: Knuckle cracking will give you arthritis.

Fact: There is no clinical evidence that knuckle cracking causes arthritis in the fingers or the hand. Studies of people with osteoarthritis in their knuckles show they are no more likely to have cracked their knuckles earlier in life than people who did not develop the condition. However, the bad news is that there is some evidence that people who habitually crack their knuckles have decreased hand function, such as reduced ability to grip tightly.

Myth 6: Drinking milk prevents arthritis.

Fact: Drinking milk does not prevent arthritis. This myth is often attributed to confusing osteoarthritis with osteoporosis, a condition that can be reduced by drinking milk and taking regular weight-bearing exercise. A person with osteoporosis gradually loses bone material so that his or her bones become more fragile. Osteoarthritis results from the wear and tear of life. The pressure of gravity causes physical damage to the joints and surrounding tissues, leading to pain, tenderness, swelling, and decreased function.

For More Information:

Centers for Disease Control and PreventionCenter for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health PromotionMail Stop K-454770 Buford Highway, N.E.Atlanta, GA 30341-3717770-488-5131http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/

National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Clearinghouse1 AMS CircleBethesda, MD 20892-3675301-226-42671-877-22-NIAMS (toll-free)http://www.nih.gov/niams/

Arthritis FoundationP.O. Box 7669Atlanta, GA 30359-06691-800-283-7800http://www.arthritis.org

American College of RheumatologyAssociation of Rheumatology Health Professionals1800 Century Place, Suite 250Atlanta, GA 30345http://www.rheumatology.org/index.asp

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!

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