Title: Have You Bought Into These Arthritis Myths?
Author: David B. Silva
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Have You Bought Into These Arthritis Myths?
by David B. Silva


Myth 1: Exercise doesn't help arthritis, and in fact makes the
condition worse.

Fact: Proper exercise performed on a regular basis is an
important part of arthritis treatment, according to the Arthritis
Foundation. Twenty years ago, doctors advised exactly the
opposite, fearing that activity would cause more damage and
inflammation. However, not exercising causes weak muscles, stiff
joints, reduced mobility, and lost vitality, say rheumatologists,
who now routinely advise a balance of physical activity and rest.

Three main types of exercises are recommended:

Range-of-motion ...moving a joint as far as it will comfortably
go and then stretching it a little further to increase and
maintain joint mobility, decrease pain, and improve joint
function. These can be done at least every other day.

Strengthening ...using muscles without moving joints to help
increase muscle strength and stabilize weak joints. These can be
done at least every other day, unless there is severe pain or
swelling.

Endurance ...aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming and
bicycling to strengthen the heart and lungs and increase stamina.
These should be done for 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week,
unless there is severe pain or swelling.

Myth 2: Arthritis only affects older people.

Fact: While it is true that arthritis becomes more common as
people age, arthritis may begin at any age, including childhood.
Nearly three of every five sufferers are under age 65. Conversely,
some elderly people never develop arthritis.

Myth 3: Arthritis is nothing more than minor aches and pains.

Fact: Arthritis can be permanently debilitating. Many forms of
arthritis or musculoskeletal conditions are self-limited and get
better without specific treatment. Others, however, such as
rheumatoid arthritis, may be quite serious and may affect the
body's internal organs as well as the joints.

Arthritis already affects more than 42 million Americans in its
chronic form, including 300,000 children. By 2020, CDC estimates
that 60 million people will be affected, and that more than 11
million will be disabled.

Myth 4: A warm climate will cure arthritis.

Fact: Arthritis occurs in all parts of the world. Many people do
notice that a difference in the weather can cause their arthritis
to flare, but for most people, moving to a different climate does
not make a big enough difference to justify moving.

Myth 5: Knuckle cracking will give you arthritis.

Fact: There is no clinical evidence that knuckle cracking causes
arthritis in the fingers or the hand. Studies of people with
osteoarthritis in their knuckles show they are no more likely to
have cracked their knuckles earlier in life than people who did
not develop the condition. However, the bad news is that there is
some evidence that people who habitually crack their knuckles
have decreased hand function, such as reduced ability to grip
tightly.

Myth 6: Drinking milk prevents arthritis.

Fact: Drinking milk does not prevent arthritis. This myth is
often attributed to confusing osteoarthritis with osteoporosis,
a condition that can be reduced by drinking milk and taking
regular weight-bearing exercise. A person with osteoporosis
gradually loses bone material so that his or her bones become
more fragile. Osteoarthritis results from the wear and tear of
life. The pressure of gravity causes physical damage to the
joints and surrounding tissues, leading to pain, tenderness,
swelling, and decreased function.

For More Information:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Mail Stop K-45
4770 Buford Highway, N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30341-3717
770-488-5131
http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/

National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Clearinghouse
1 AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD 20892-3675
301-226-4267
1-877-22-NIAMS (toll-free)
http://www.nih.gov/niams/

Arthritis Foundation
P.O. Box 7669
Atlanta, GA 30359-0669
1-800-283-7800
http://www.arthritis.org

American College of Rheumatology
Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals
1800 Century Place, Suite 250
Atlanta, GA 30345
http://www.rheumatology.org/index.asp

Copyright  2005 David B. Silva

About David: David B. Silva is the webmaster for About Arthritis
Today (http://aboutarthritistoday.com), a website on the causes,
symptoms, and treatments of arthritis. It spans all the various
forms: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis,
juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, with articles, newest research,
and links to other resources. Visit http://aboutarthritistoday.com.

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