To celebrate World Arthritis Day we’re busting some myths about arthritis:
- increased exercise is actually GOOD for osteoarthritis
- running isn’t the main cause of osteoarthritis in knees
- you aren’t destined to develop it just because one of your parents had it, or because you’re getting older
- clicking your joints or popping your knuckles will not cause osteoarthritis
- there are plenty of ways of managing the symptoms without resorting to surgery
- scans will only show what’s actually there, not necessarily what you’re feeling
What is arthritis?
There are different types of arthritis but the one you might hear most about is osteoarthritis, or OA. This is where the cartilage in your joints starts to roughen and your body responds by trying to repair itself. It does this by laying down tiny bits of bone, supplying extra fluid and stretching the joint capsule to accommodate it.
What are the symptoms?
The result is often swelling around a joint causing pain and stiffness. You might feel some clicking or cracking in the joint too. Usually the stiffness wears off after a few minutes of movement (especially first thing in the morning) and is better if you keep moving.
What does that mean for my lifestyle?
Contrary to popular opinion, having osteoarthritis DOESN’T mean you have to give up anything you currently enjoy doing, but you might need to change some things about the way you’re doing them, and get a bit of help with managing your symptoms.
How can I manage the symptoms?
In the first instance, see a specialist who can help relieve the symptoms and talk to you about the condition. Gentle treatment can give a lot of relief and help you take further steps in managing the condition on your own. Research shows that the symptoms of osteoarthritis are worse if you’re overweight. Managing your diet and increasing exercise will help by lessening the impact on those joints and helping the body’s natural repair mechanism by working the joints a bit more. Exercise also increases bone density, preventing further arthritic changes.