FALSE: There is one form of arthritis
More than 100 forms of arthritis and related diseases affect approximately 46 million Americans today. If you think you have arthritis, don’t just run out and buy glucosamine supplements! It’s important to learn what type you have so you can manage it properly. There are two main types of arthritis: osteoarthritis (related to wear and tear), and rheumatoid arthritis (an inflammatory autoimmune disease). Other forms include gout (caused by crystals that collect in the joints), psoriatic arthritis, lupus and septic arthritis.
FALSE: It’s just for older people
One of the most common types of arthritis, osteoarthritis, typically affects people over age 40, but it can occur in younger people, especially those who have suffered a joint injury. Arthritis can affect anyone at any age; nearly 60% of those diagnosed are under age 65. Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, a chronic, systematic inflammatory disorder, can strike anywhere from infancy to age 16.
FALSE: Diet can’t help
Overall health is essential for managing arthritis. Keep in mind that every extra pound you carry puts 10 pounds of pressure on your joints! Experts suggest eating foods traditionally included in a Mediterranean diet such as olive oil, lean meats and fish, vegetables and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s decrease the production of chemicals that cause inflammation, plus they inhibit enzymes that trigger it. Fatty fish also contain vitamin D, which helps prevent swelling and soreness. Olive oil contains oleocanthal, which blocks enzymes involved in inflammation. Food can’t cure arthritis, but it can help you lose weight and ease aching joints.
FALSE: Glucosamine supplements rebuild joints
Many people take glucosamine, a cartilage-strengthening compound found in the body, to protect cartilage and manage pain. In theory, some glucosamine travels from the digestive system to damaged joints. Research has never proven this to be true! If you are already being treated for arthritis, talk to your doctor before adding glucosamine as a supplement.
FALSE: Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis
Cracking your knuckles does not damage joints or lead to arthritis. The “pop” sound comes from gas bubbles releasing from synovial fluid, the lubricating fluid within your joints. Once the bubble bursts, it takes around half an hour for the gas to reabsorb into the synovial fluid. Knuckle cracking pulls your bones apart, stretching the ligaments. Too much stretching of your ligaments may cause soreness and reduced grip strength, but not arthritis.
Thanks to the Arthritis Foundation for research used in this article.