Simply put, arthritis is inflammation in joints and surrounding tissue that causes pain and debilitation. However, over 100 conditions fall under the scope of arthritis and discerning facts from myths about the symptoms, treatments and environmental factors that trigger pain can be daunting.
Here are 10 common myths about arthritis pain:
1. Popping your knuckles will cause arthritis -
The myth that "cracking joints" will cause osteoarthritis is very common. However, according to WebMD,
knuckle popping is annoying to other people but it is not harmful and does not cause arthritis. "If cracking is accompanied by pain, there could be underlying abnormalities of the structures of the joint, such as loose cartilage or injured ligaments."
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2. All joint pain is arthritis -
Actually many conditions can cause joint pain that mimics the symptoms of arthritis. For example, tendonitis, bursitis, lupus, and Lyme disease have similar pain profiles and it is important to get an accurate diagnosis of any medical condition before treating any joint pain condition.
3. Damp conditions trigger arthritis pain -
Anecdotal stories about arthritis suffers predicting wet weather via pain cues abound but there is no scientific evidence to support the connection. However, there is an unsubstantiated theory that a drop in barometric pressure might cause a slight expansion in joints, which might exacerbate pain. Arthritis patients often ask if they should move to milder climates. According to Robert Newlin Jamison, PhD, from Harvard Medical School,
"We know that if you ask people to rate their pain in Minnesota or Arizona or California or even Florida, there's no one area of the country where you'd say, 'There's less pain there.'"
4. Inactivity is best when arthritis pain flares up -
This myth may sound logical but in fact, regular exercise will help to maintain a full range of motion in joints. Low impact aerobics and stretching, even during a pain flare, will help ease the pain of arthritis.
5. Heat is better for arthritis than cold -
Both heat and cold are beneficial to help alleviate arthritis pain. Ice reduces inflammation in joints and heat relaxes the muscles and tendons around the joint.
6. Only old people get arthritis -
Not so says Dr. Vivian Bykerk, assistant attending rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. "It can happen to 1 and 2-year-olds, it can happen to 90-year-olds and to anyone in between," reports ABC News.
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7. There is no way to prevent joint damage caused by arthritis - Everyday Health reports
, "Arthritis medications — including COX-2 inhibitors, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anti-TNF compounds, corticosteroids, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) — can help reduce inflammation, relieve painful symptoms, and prevent joint damage."
8. Glucosamine benefits everyone with arthritis
- Evidence, both scientific and anecdotal is mixed on whether glucosamine actually reduces the pain of arthritis. While some in the alternative medicine community recommend taking glucosamine, others in traditional medical fields state that unless injected into the joint, the supplement has no real effect. The wisest course of action may be to give glucosamine a 3-month trial run to evaluate its potential benefits.
9. Diet has no effect on arthritis pain -
There are definitely foods to add to the diet that can help manage arthritis pain. Inflammation is the key culprit in arthritis and the addition of inflammation fighting foods such as fish, olive oil, whole grains, fruits and vegetables has been shown to help alleviate arthritis pain symptoms.
10. Topical ointments made from hot chili peppers don't work
- Capsaicin is the ingredient in hot chili peppers and when applied to joints it can help to block nerve pain. While it will not cure arthritis and it can irritate the skin, Arthritis Research UK reports
, "Several studies have found that capsaicin can use up Substance P. Substance P plays an important role in transmitting pain signals from nerve endings to your brain. It’s also involved in activating inflammatory substances in joints."
This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.
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