Debunking common myths related to arthritis

Arthritis refers to inflammation of the joints; it can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, redness, and difficulty in moving the affected joint. The term ‘arthritis,’ as such, encompasses several medical conditions affecting the joints and other organs of the body. Osteoarthritis (OA), commonly known as degenerative or ‘wear and tear’ arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) are two of the commonest types of arthritis

people, healthcare and problem concept - close up of man suffering from pain in hand oe wrist at home

Let’s separate the myths from the facts & by clearing misconceptions related to the disease.

Does arthritis only affect the elderly?

This isn’t entirely true. While OA is commonly seen as age advances, other types of Arthritis are more common in the younger population. For example, Juvenile Arthritis affects children and conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis & Lupus are more commonly seen in younger adults.

Does arthritis only affect joints?

Many arthritic conditions affect other body organs in addition to joints. For instance, Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect the Lungs, Heart, and Nerves too. Similarly, Lupus affects Skin, Kidneys, Heart, and Lungs, in addition to joints. Psoriatic Arthritis can affect the Heart and Eyes.

Do I have arthritis if my knee makes crackling or popping noises?

Noises can be commonly felt in normal Knees and are not a cause for concern. However, it is abnormal if that noise is accompanied with pain, swelling, or locking of the Knee and you must consult a specialist in that situation.

Are tomatoes and sour or citrus foods bad for arthritis?

A common misconception is that Tomatoes and Citrus or acidic foods must be avoided as they can worsen the pain of Arthritis. However, there is no scientific basis to support that. Sufferers of Arthritis should rather avoid excess salt, sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed and fried foods.

My Medical Mantra spoke to a few doctors to know about the myths that they have come across in their practice.

Dr Pradeep Bhosale, a joint replacement surgeon at Nanavati Hospital, said, “There are many myths related to arthritis in the minds of the people. Many people indulge in knuckle cracking. This activity is benign and there is no scientific evidence to show that it damages the joints. So, whether you crack your knuckles to relax or just as a habit, you need not worry about joint damage. But it is advisable to avoid cracking your knuckles. It is also believed that people with arthritis should avoid physical activity. But this isn’t true.”

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Siddharth M. Shah, Joint Replacement Surgeon, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim, informed, “Contrary to popular belief, running correctly does not increase the risk of future arthritis. In fact, it is good for your muscle and joint health; it may even protect your knees from developing OA. Running without appropriate shoes, or proper training, or exceeding your limits can increase the risk of injuries which in turn predisposes to arthritis. Patients who already have arthritis and loss of joint cartilage are usually advised to avoid running as arthritic joints do not function like normal joints. Running, in these individuals can worsen their pain and may cause the progression of arthritis.”