Common Myths and Misconceptions about Arthritis

Arthritis is a relatively common condition among people, especially in the elderly community – However, there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding the disease.  With the proper knowledge, arthritis can be treated and the symptoms can be controlled so it is important for seniors and family caregivers to be able to distinguish what is true and what is not when it comes to arthritis.  In this article we would like to share some information with regards to these common myths and misconceptions about arthritis.

One of the most common myths about arthritis is that it only affects elderly people.  It is true that it is most commonly seen in the elderly population, but it can also affect people as young as a year old.  Seniors and family caregivers should keep this in mind because many people make the mistake of thinking that they are too young to have arthritis which causes them to leave their condition untreated.  Another common myth is that aches and pains are a normal part of the aging process and are not a sign of arthritis. Leaving arthritis untreated can lead to severe inflammation in the joints and can even harm the internal organs if the patient is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.  That being said seniors should not write off their pain as a normal part of the aging process and family caregivers should encourage their loved ones to seek treatment if they are suffering from any joint pain that might indicate they have arthritis.

Another common misconception about arthritis is that it is affected by diet.  Many people believe that a poor diet can lead to arthritis or that certain foods will make symptoms of arthritis more serious, but neither of these beliefs is true.  A healthy diet is important for all people but not maintaining a healthy diet has not been proven to cause arthritis.  Gaining weight can make symptoms worse because the excess weight puts more stress on the joints so it is important for seniors with arthritis to maintain a healthy diet and avoid excessive weight gain.  Many people also believe that certain vegetables can make the symptoms of arthritis worse by causing too much calcium to build up in the body but doctors suggest that there is not enough evidence to support that belief. Seniors should work to maintain a balanced diet that includes all of the food groups in moderation for best results and should not avoid any vegetables.

While it is true that there is no cure for arthritis, many people make the mistake of thinking that it cannot be treated. Seniors with arthritis have a variety of treatment options available today including medication, exercise programs, surgery and even self-management.  Undergoing treatment for arthritis can greatly reduce the pain that seniors endure on a daily basis and can often help slow the progression of the disease.  If arthritis is left untreated it causes total joint destruction in many cases which requires surgery to replace the damaged joint.  Seniors should visit their doctor to find out which treatment option will work best for them based on their medical history in order to slow the progression of the disease and avoid joint destruction. Family caregivers can help their loved ones by reminding them that joint pain is not just a sign of aging and by encouraging them to visit their doctor so that the disease can be caught early on.

Another common myth about arthritis is that exercise is harmful for those that suffer from it.  Many people believe that exercising will make joint pain worse but it is actually better for those with arthritis to exercise.  Not exercising can lead to a decrease in muscle mass which is very important for seniors to avoid because the muscles surrounding the joints are the most important support structures for the joints.  Seniors should avoid exercises that cause them pain, but lighter exercises can be very beneficial.  Seniors can also consider water activities such as swimming or aerobics if they experience pain when exercising because exercising in the water helps take some of the pressure off of the joints.

Seniors and family caregivers should keep these myths in mind so that they will be able to successfully maintain their arthritis.  Seniors should make sure that they are not writing their symptoms off as signs of aging, and family caregivers should make sure that they encourage their loved ones to seek treatment so that they will not cause unnecessary damage to their joints over time.  Seniors and family caregivers can also work together to develop a diet and exercise plan to prevent weight gain and help strengthen the muscles.

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