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10 Myths About Arthritis

According to the Arthritis Foundation one in five adults, or 46 million Americans, have been diagnosed with arthritis. There are two main types of arthritis: osteoarthritis (the most common) and rheumatoid arthritis. Conditions like lupus, gout, and fibromyalgia also fall under the arthritis umbrella. Many things can cause arthritis – namely genetics, sedentary lifestyles, and joint injury. However, many of the things we think cause arthritis in fact don’t.

Here are the top 10 myths:

Myth #1: Lack of Calcium

Calcium is key to preventing osteoporosis – a disease of the bones (not the joints). And it’s true that people with osteoporosis sometimes get arthritis, but inadequate calcium is not an arthritis risk factor. That’s no reason to skimp on your calcium: follow the CDC guidelines to make sure you’re getting enough.

Myth #2: Cracking Your Joints

As arthritis myths go this is a biggie. When you “crack” a joint you’re actually either snapping the ligament over the joint or pulling on the joint, which causes a negative nitrogen bubble. You’re not cracking the bone, just manipulating the joint to make it feel better.

Myth #3: Damp Weather

The incidence of arthritis is worldwide, whether you live in the desert or the tundra” Cold, rainy weather might make you less comfortable – and if you suffer from painful arthritis, anything that makes you less comfortable makes it worse. However, the weather itself has no impact on whether or not you’ll develop the disease.

Myth #4: Being “Double-Jointed”

The term “double-jointed” is actually a misnomer.  Nobody has two joints where they should have one. Some people have hyper-mobility (or extra flexibility) in their joints, but there’s no evidence to suggest this causes arthritis.

Myth #5: Your Diet

Certain diets can worsen arthritis and certain diets and supplements (such as fish oil) may well help arthritis – especially rheumatoid arthritis. Many foods are thought to be inflammatory – such as high-fat, high-sugar foods – and avoiding them could help improve your existing arthritis, but eating them won’t bring it.

Myth #6: Strenuous Exercise

Exercise – including strenuous exercise such as marathon running or triathlons – absolutely does not cause arthritis, White says. In fact, exercise has been shown to decrease the progression of arthritis. The caveat: if you get an exercise-related injury that you don’t properly rehab (such as a recurring ankle sprain) you can be at risk for developing arthritis in that joint.

Myth #7: Immunizations

The Arthritis Foundation’s position is that immunizations – particularly rubella – do not cause arthritis. The data is not there. Certain immunizations can cause some short-term joint aching, but it’s not the same thing.

Myth #8: Bad Posture

As with stress, prolonged bad posture can cause stiffness, pain, and headaches but it won’t make you develop arthritis.

Myth #9: Stress

Prolonged stress can weaken the body and compromise its ability to respond to joint pain but the tenseness and stiffness you feel from stress won’t actually cause arthritis.

Myth #10: Age

Age is not a direct cause (300,000 children have juvenile arthritis), however, as you age you’re more likely to develop risk factors that are linked to arthritis, such as weight gain.

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