Myths & Facts About Arthritis

Myth: Arthritis is just another name for painful joints.

Fact: Arthritis is actually the name of a group of over 100 different conditions. Some are relatively mild; others are serious and may affect the body's internal organs as well as the joints.

Two of the most common types of arthritis are:

  • Osteoarthritis can be caused by an injury or simply by the normal wear and tear on joints
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is a progressive disease in which the body attacks its own tissues, including the joints.

Myth: Arthritis is a normal part of aging.

Fact: Pain is a sign that something is wrong; it is not a normal part of the aging process. Besides, people of all ages—including children and teens—are affected by arthritis. Nearly 60% of people with arthritis are of working age or younger, and more than half (about 57%) of people over the age of 65 do not have arthritis.

Myth: If you have joint pain, you have arthritis.

Fact: Joint pain can be caused by a number of conditions, including tendinitis, bursitis, or injury to the soft tissues around the joints.

Myth: When your arthritis acts up, it's best to rest your joints.

Fact: Although arthritic joints sometimes need a short period of rest before you gradually return to your regular activities, regular exercise can actually help your arthritis.

Low-impact aerobic exercise improves joint health, and stretching exercises help keep joints flexible.

It is natural to want to avoid movement when your joints hurt, but allowing your joints to remain immobile lets the muscles around the joints lose their strength. Weak muscles don't support joints properly, and that can lead to more pain.

While high-impact exercises should generally be avoided, low-impact aerobic exercise improves joint health, and stretching exercises help keep joints flexible.

Myth: Certain foods and supplements can cure arthritis.

Fact: A change of diet has no effect on arthritis. Some people think that rum-soaked raisins, grapefruit, and eggplant or other vegetables in the nightshade family can cure arthritis, but there is no scientific evidence that shows any benefit from eating these foods.

There are no supplements that can cure arthritis either. Some people with osteoarthritis may benefit from taking certain supplements, but there is no single supplement or combination of supplements that works for everyone.

Myth: There is nothing you can do about arthritis, so you just have to learn to live with the pain.

Fact: While there is currently no cure for arthritis, there are things you can do to relieve the pain and improve your ability to engage in your normal activities.

  • Applying a heat wrap can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the stress on some joints.
  • Physical activity can help keep joints and their supporting structures strong and healthy.
  • Medications such as ibuprofen can relieve pain from inflammation, making it easier to stay active and allow you to do more of the things you enjoy.