According to the Arthritis Foundation, around 54 million adults have been diagnosed with arthritis.
This number implies that there are in fact, even by conservative estimates, a lot of people who have to live with this condition. Yet so many people, both sufferers and caregivers alike, tend to believe in the myths and misconceptions that surround the condition.
So we thought we’d finally put an end to the speculation about whether cold weather makes your joints hurt, or if eating chili peppers can actually help with the pain, and all the other questions you might have about the disease.
Myth 1: “I’ve just been diagnosed with arthritis and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis, has no cure (joint replacement perhaps an exception to a certain extent), that’s true. But just because you’ve been diagnosed doesn’t mean you just have to simply live with it. There are ways that you can reduce pain, maintain independence, and improve mobility.
Aside from traditional treatment, you can incorporate more physical activity and eat more healthily to improve your overall lifestyle and explore alternative or complementary therapies including the the use of tools or aids.
Myth 2: “The cold weather makes my joint pain worse.”
This is a claim that was been strongly contested by the scientific community and people who actually suffer from the condition. And to date, there’s been no definitive proof to support the latter’s claims. So while all accounts of cold weather and joint pain association are largely anecdotal, researchers are now actually pursuing a study that investigates its correlation.
The study, which began in 2016, is being led by the University of Manchester. And once it ends, the team will then pursue a formal analysis of the data to finally give the world an answer to this age old question.
Myth 3: “Eating chillies help manage my pain.”
Despite the fact that his sounds like an old wives tale, it could actually be true. An active component of the chillies called capsaicin is actually prescribed for osteoarthritis patients and is being sold in creams or gels.
The capsaicin works by blocking the nerves in the joint’s capacity to send pain signals to your brain. Keep in mind through that it usually takes a while before people actually start to feel an actual effect—around 2 weeks to a month.
Myth 4: “Hobbies that require joint dexterity will just make my arthritis worse.”
There is no scientific basis that proves joint intensive activities, like knitting or gardening, calligraphy, or anything similar, will make your arthritis worse. If you want to purse these hobbies, go ahead and do so…but it might be worth you while to modify it to make it easier on your joints. Maybe use tools specifically made for arthritis, or use compression sleeves to provide additional support.
Myth 5: “I suffer from arthritis—so I’ll probably end up passing it on to my children.”
Arthritis is usually a combination of genetic predisposition to the disease and numerous environmental factors. So while your family history may put you at high risk, your lifestyle will also contribute to you getting it.
Myth 6: “I can’t exercise anymore—it’ll just make my arthritis worse.”
The pain caused by arthritis can range from being a nuisance to debilitating. Depending on where your pain is on that scale, it may not be possible for you to exercise or engage in physical activity.
Understand your limitations and listen to your body. Regular low impact exercise can actually help you manage your condition by strengthening your joints, and building muscle, improving joint mobility, and keeping your weight down so that you reduce pressure on your joints.
Are there any myths that you know about? Tell us all about it below.