Nearly everyone has experienced joint pain at some point, and most of us know somebody with arthritis, whether it be a friend, family member—or even ourselves. In fact, nearly a fourth of adults in the U.S. have some form of arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet for such a common condition, there are a lot of misconceptions about painful joints.
Here are 9 common myths about joint pain and arthritis.
- All arthritis is the same. The Arthritis Foundation reports there are over 100 different kinds of the disease, but the two you probably hear the most about are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These are not the same thing. Osteoarthritis affects more people and happens when the cartilage that cushions the joints begins to wear out. Rheumatoid is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the protective membrane around the joints, and this can result in many other symptoms besides joint soreness.
- If you have joint pain, it must be arthritis. Not necessarily. You may have an injury to your tendon (tendonitis), inflammation or injury to the fluid-filled sac that cushions the joint (bursitis), sprains, strains, or one of many other conditions that can make your joints hurt. If the pain is accompanied by deformity in the joint, a lot of pain or swelling, or the inability to use it, see a joint specialist right away.
- Weather makes your joint pain worse. This is an old wives’ tale, but there’s no scientific proof that the weather has any effect on joint pain—or that you can predict the weather if you get a twinge in a joint.
- If you have joint pain, you should avoid exercise. This is the opposite of what you should really do for joint pain. While it’s tempting to avoid exercise if your joints hurt, remaining sedentary makes it worse in the long term. Instead, do gentle, low impact exercises like walking or swimming to maintain mobility. Of course, if you experience significant pain while exercising or can’t move your joint normally, stop immediately and consult a doctor.
- If you crack your knuckles a lot, you’ll develop arthritis.Our parents may have told us this when we were kids to get us to stop cracking our knuckles simply because it’s annoying. However, this is another myth that has no basis in science. While overly vigorous knuckle cracking has been known to injure the joints of young children (although it’s rare), there’s just no indication that this habit causes arthritis.
- Dietary supplements can cure arthritis. While this would be wonderful, there is no known cure for most types of arthritis. While some types of supplements have been shown to offer relief to certain people—glucosamine, turmeric, or fish oil, for example—they don’t all work well for everyone. Also, changing your diet to limit gluten or dairy doesn’t seem to have an effect on arthritis either if you’re not otherwise sensitive to these things. A healthy diet, however, does help by keeping the stress of extra weight off the joints.
- Arthritis is something only older people get. Those with rheumatoid arthritis tend to develop it in their 50s, while most people tend to start experiencing symptoms from osteoarthritis after the age of 40. However, it’s not uncommon for people in their 20s and 30s to develop symptoms, although this may be brought on by past injuries or overweight. In fact, some very young children can even develop it.
- Heat is better than cold for joint pain. Both heat and cold can be good for joint pain, and some people get good relief by alternating them. The cold reduces swelling, while the heat is soothing. However, right after an injury, you’ll want to avoid a heating pad or warm compress for a couple of days until the swelling has gone down. After that, feel free to switch back and forth between them, but don’t leave either on for more than about 20 minutes at a time, and never go to sleep with a cold or hot pack on.
- If you have arthritis, your only option is a joint replacement. Not so. More and more often, people are discovering they can regain good mobility and experience less pain without surgery and the potential complications that go with it. The experts at Flexogenix® can discuss your options with you and recommend non-invasive treatments that work to increase flexibility by helping your body repair its own joints without necessitating a hospital stay.
When it comes to joint pain, don’t succumb to myths that sound believable but have no basis in fact. Consult with expert joint specialists who know the science behind the causes of joint problems and can recommend a program that’s right for you. Call Flexogenix® at 1-888-YES-FLEX and schedule a consultation today.