Busting Arthritis Myths
There are many misconceptions about arthritis. The most common misconceptions about arthritis seem to persist. Patients need facts and valid information, not myths and misconceptions, so they can better manage their illness. The most common misconception about arthritis is that it’s a disease only of old people. In actuality, arthritis can affect anyone at any age, not just the elderly. Arthritis is not age or gender specific. There are over 100 different types of arthritis and related rheumatic conditions and some are more commonly found in particular groups. Rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and lupus are more commonly found in women than men. Gout and ankylosing spondylitis appear more often in men than women. In terms of gender, psoriatic arthritis affects men and women nearly equally. Older people are more inclined to have osteoarthritis, the degenerative form of arthritis.
It has long been theorized that arthritis is caused by a cold, wet climate. Moving to a warm, dry climate has been regarded by some as the cure. Logically, one can infer that if a warm climate cured arthritis, then no one in Southern California or other warm regions would have arthritis. Bone rubbing on bone after cartilage has worn away causes pain in any climate. However; warmth can be soothing. People without arthritis often feel better in warm climates too. Warmth may relieve symptoms of arthritis, as does soaking in a hot tub or taking a hot shower.
Since arthritis is a lifelong process, the importance of gaining knowledge and understanding of your own health is crucial. There has been an abundance of speculation about the importance of diet with regard to arthritis. It is certain that a nutritious, well-balanced diet and ideal weight maintenance improves overall health and wellness for everyone. There are a few examples where there is a definite diet connection such as between high uric acid levels and gout. Since arthritis is a disease characterized by periods of flares and remissions, it is often difficult for the family and friends of an arthritic person to comprehend why they feel so much better or so much worse on any particular day. The inconsistency of arthritis can even lead some people to believe the disease is “all in your head”.
Arthritis is characterized by a mix of good days and bad days. Some days the joint pain and fatigue is more exacerbated. A balance between rest and activity may be necessary to best manage living with arthritis. The limitations that arthritis imposes on an individual can cause people closest to them to become overprotective. Sometimes people do too much to try and help the person with arthritis. The disease does interfere with some physical ability, but certainly the arthritic person should not be viewed as totally dependent and invalid. A certain amount of help and dependence is likely to be required. It must be remembered though that it is best to maintain as much independence as possible for both physical and emotional reasons.