When most people think of arthritis, what comes to mind? Most likely an aged grandparent complaining about aches, pains and stiffness. And while this characterization does bear truth, there’s more to arthritis than having lived a full life. Think you know about arthritis? Here are some of the most common misconceptions about this extremely common and too often misunderstood medical condition.
Myth: Arthritis is a singular disease.
Fact: One of the most prevalent diseases, arthritis affects tens of millions of people the world over. Arthritis, however, is not just one disease but rather, an umbrella term referring to at least one hundred different types of joint-related conditions and ailments, the most common of which includes osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus and gout.
Myth: Arthritis only happens to the elderly.
Fact: Arthritis can affect everyone, regardless of age, gender, socio-economic status and even overall health. For example, an elite athlete may find over time that she has developed osteoarthritis – wear and tear – in a joint; children often are diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, an umbrella term for the different kinds of arthritis that affect children.
Myth: Arthritis is a woman’s disease.
Fact: Many believe that women more so than men are susceptible to arthritis. This is another misconception, perhaps one that rises from fact that, during menopause, women’s bones tend to weaken. However, men are just as prone to arthritis as women, even though certain kinds of arthritis, like lupus, tend to affect more women than men.
Myth: Arthritis only affects the joints.
Fact: While many forms of arthritis affect the joints, those with rheumatoid arthritis can develop issues in their eyes, lungs, kidneys, skin, heart, and other vital organs. That’s because rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body starts to attack its own immune system. As a result, it can affect kidney function, cause lumps and bumps under the skin; rheumatoid arthritis can even cause blindness, heart attack and stroke if the condition is not adequately managed.
Myth: Arthritis is best treated with over-the-counter medications.
Fact: While certain over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories can help reduce arthritic pain and soreness, not every kind of arthritis responds to this protocol. Remember, there are more than one hundred types of arthritis, so treatment will vary per condition, severity and person.
Myth: Arthritis is caused by cold weather.
Fact: Warmth may relieve symptoms of arthritis and symptoms may become more severe as the temperature drops, but that doesn’t mean that cold weather causes arthritis. If this were the case, then a significant population living in cold climates would have arthritis; and conversely, individuals living in warm climates would be asymptomatic.
Myth: Poor food choice causes arthritis.
Fact: Arthritis is not caused by food choice, however, certain foods may trigger symptoms depending on the type of arthritis you have. Take for example gout, which is caused by a build up of uric acid that forms sharp, needle-like crystals that get lodged in the joint. Red meat, shellfish, smoked meats and processed foods, as well as alcohol consumption, have been known to increase the likelihood of a gout attack. And while food alone doesn’t cause arthritis, evidence shows that a healthy, natural diet can fend away excess weight, which does add excess pressure on joints and contributes to overall wellness.
Myth: There are no new treatments for arthritis.
Fact: Whereas in the past arthritis was treated with hot water bottles, Epsom soaks and aspirin, doctors today are using cutting-edge treatments and technologies to reduce pain and repair damage. For example, during Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy, doctors draw a sample of the patient’s own blood, use a centrifuge to isolate the PRP and other healing factors, then inject the formula into the affected area to jump start the body’s natural healing process. Regarding surgical procedures, arthroplasty involves replacing the damaged portion of the joint with a highly efficient, functional artificial joint.
Arthritis Treatment and Relief
One in four Americans will develop some form of arthritis in their lifetime. That’s where knowledge and awareness are key. In many cases, you can minimize risks by eating well, educating yourself about arthritic symptoms and triggers, and maintaining a relationship with an orthopedist who is an expert at diagnostics and treatment. In Bismarck, The Bone & Joint Center is an orthopedic center of excellence that provides comprehensive care for all your orthopedic needs – from general orthopedics and sports injuries to joint replacement procedures. Our team of board-certified and board-eligible orthopedists and advanced practice providers are experts at diagnosing and treating what ails you. Call The Bone & Joint Center today (701) 530-8650 or request an appointment.