Top 6 Arthritis Myths Busted
Cory Calendine, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Updated September 8, 2021
In the United States, more than 54 million people suffer with arthritis pain, and worldwide, arthritis remains the leading cause of disability. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, but many forms exist including gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. Symptoms of joint arthritis most commonly include pain (especially in morning and after prolonged sitting), joint stiffness, and sometimes swelling.
Dr. Cory Calendine, Orthopedic Surgeon and Hip and Knee Replacement Specialist with the Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee explains frequently seen misinformation about arthritis pain and treatment. Common arthritis myths include:
All joint pain is arthritis. False!
Several conditions, including tendon inflammation, bursitis and other soft-tissue injuries can also cause joint pain and stiffness. Early evaluation by a qualified physician can lead to the correct diagnosis and treatment. A medical evaluation for joint arthritis symptoms typically includes a physical exam, detailed review of your medical history, and x-ray studies to evaluate for arthritis changes and help rule-out other causes of joint symptoms. Early treatment of arthritis pain and disability is vital to help limit progression of joint damage.
If detected and treated in its early stages, the effects of joint arthritis can be greatly diminished and some types of arthritis may even remit completely. The importance of proper diagnosis, particularly in the early stages of the disease, is often underestimated, even by medical professionals. A 2019 British Medical Journal study highlighted that patients with a gradual or insidious onset of of joint symptoms, tend to delay medical evaluation the longest. Whether acute or slow-onset, if you experience joint pain and/or stiffness that is recurrent or persistent, consider consulting a qualified medical professional. People suffering with arthritis have a better quality of life and lower risk of lifelong disability if they are diagnosed early, receive treatment, and learn how to manage their condition.
Only elderly people get arthritis. False!
While the risk of arthritis does generally increase as you age, people of all ages get arthritis including children and young adults. Juvenile Arthritis (JA) is a group of inflammatory disease conditions that affect nearly 300,000 kids and teens in the United States. Even the most common forms of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, can begin causing symptoms in early adulthood. Approximately 14% of adults have symptomatic osteoarthritis of at least one joint by the age of 25, and at least 34% of adults aged 65 and older have osteoarthritis. Worldwide estimates are that half of people 65 and older have symptomatic arthritis.
According to the National Arthritis Foundation, it is estimated that as the prevalence of arthritis increases, the age of onset of symptoms will continue to decrease. Conservative estimates suggest that by 2040 the number of adults in the U.S. with physician-diagnosed arthritis will increase 49 percent (to 78.4 million or 25.9 percent of all adults), and the number of adults reporting activity limitations due to their arthritis symptoms will increase 52 percent (to more than 34.6 million).
RELATED ARTICLE: Juvenile Arthritis Facts, Cory Calendine, MD
Arthritis can not be prevented. False!
While some risk factors for arthritis including age, gender and genetics cannot be modified, you can take steps to reduce your risk or delay the onset of some forms of arthritis. For osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, avoiding smoking, and minimizing your risk of injury during activities can all help prevent arthritis as you age.
Carrying additional weight puts extra pressure on joints that can result in chronic pain and joint damage. Being overweight or obese is proven to increase the risk of hand, hip, and knee osteoarthritis, with the greatest risk in the knee. Increased body weight causes an exponential increase in pressure on the joints. For example, each additional pound of bodyweight increases the dynamic load on the knee joints by more than 4 pounds. Of course, that also means that if you lose 10 pounds (4.54 kg), there will be 40 pounds (18.14 kg) less pressure on your knees with each step.
Weight control, exercise and healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent the onset and progression many types of arthritis joint damage.
RELATED ARTICLE: Knee Pain and Weight Gain, Cory Calendine, MD
Exercise makes arthritis worse. False!
Exercise can help prevent and be part of an effective treatment program for arthritis. Even higher impact exercise like running has been shown to lower the risk of developing joint arthritis. Exercise helps build and maintain muscle strength that supports your joints and can improve your flexibility and range of motion. Your doctor can guide you and suggest exercise that can help protect your joints and quality of life.
A recent systemic research review by the Journal of Sports Medicine explains that joint cartilage recovers well from episodes of running and progressively adapts to repeated strenuous exercise exposure. Evidence indicates that even higher-impact exercise such as running does not lead to new cartilage damage or lesions such as those with osteoarthritis. In addition to not causing damage, exercise can preserve lean muscle mass, increase bone density and improve joint function and range of motion. If you are already experiencing joint pain symptoms that are hindering your level of activity, it's time to work with your medical care team to individualize a treatment plan that will get you back in action.
When joint pain starts, you should just wait and see if the pain goes away. False!
As I mentioned initially, there are many causes of joint pain, swelling and stiffness. Arthritis is a progressive disease that often begins with relatively mild soreness and stiffness, especially first thing in the morning and after prolonged sitting. There is a natural tendency, especially when symptoms are mild to moderate and intermittent to put-off a medical visit in exchange for modifying activity and treating with over-the-counter remedies. Untreated joint symptoms will gradually begin to limit activity, increase self-isolation and can even exacerbate other physical and mental conditions.
As I stated above, the correct early diagnosis and treatment will not only relieve symptoms, but can also limit or slow progressive joint damage. If you are having symptoms like pain, stiffness and swelling, seek medical evaluation early to confirm a correct diagnosis, and to start treatment that can make a big difference in your quality of life. Every year, new medications and therapies become available and offer treatment options for patients suffering with arthritis symptoms. Your surgeon will always trial conservative therapy initially for symptomatic management of joint pain and stiffness. More advanced treatment options, including joint replacement surgery, are available for most patients that fail to get relief with conservative treatment options.
There is no treatment for arthritis. False!
While there isn’t a single cure for arthritis, there are many effective interventions including medications, physical therapies, joint injections and lifestyle changes that can help tremendously to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. For patients with more severe arthritis symptoms, joint replacement surgery can provide almost complete improvement in joint pain and limitations. Hip and Knee replacement surgery are among the most successful procedures available in modern medicine. Dr. Calendine specializes in minimally-invasive, robotic-assisted hip and knee replacement surgery. These state-of-the-art surgical treatment options offer improved patient outcomes, shorter recovery times and decreased pain. If you are suffering more than minimal joint pain and have not found relief with medications and therapies, consider discussing joint replacement options with Dr. Calendine and the team at the Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee today. Advanced treatment options are available. You deserve to enjoy a pain-free, active lifestyle, and there is hope. CLICK TO CONTACT OUR OFFICE TODAY.
Patient education is the to key to bringing awareness to the growing prevalence of arthritis, the need for additional research and advocacy, and to encourage physical activity among the millions of adults with arthritis. In that spirit, consider sharing this information, and spread the news that there is hope for those suffering with arthritis. If you've found the following information useful, please share with others.
What is Arthritis? The Facts:
Dr. Calendine specializes the treatment of hip and knee arthritis including nonsurgical procedures and state-of-the-art joint replacement options. Please share any information you found useful. If you're struggling with persistent or progressive joint pain and haven't found relief with other treatments, CONTACT OUR OFFICE for your consult appointment today.