Common Myths Associated With Osteoarthritis
I Can’t Exercise.
No, No, No! If anything you need to exercise and as much as possible, BUT in a controlled and guided manner. Lack of exercise and strengthening is proven to deteriorate the relevant joint even further. Physical activity, strengthens the muscles around the joints, increases blood flow to the joints, helps control your weight and reduces stiffness felt on the joint. These are very important aspects to keep a joint pain-free and healthy. Please note that you should consult a physiotherapist to see what type of exercise would work best for you.
Osteoarthritis can only be treated with pain medications and/or injections.
Studies have found that medication may help with pain relief but do nothing to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. As I have mentioned earlier you have to remember the pain may not necessarily be coming from the joint itself in the 1st place, it may be the muscles around the joint being very tight or weak that causes the pain. But again, this is not always assessed adequately by many in the healthcare industry.
My parents have osteoarthritis, I must have it too.
One common form of osteoarthritis – nodal osteoarthritis – runs strongly in families. This particularly affects the hands of middle-aged women. In other common forms of osteoarthritis, heredity plays a small part. Remember, you have lived a different life to your parents!!
You Have Osteoarthritis.
Now many of you out there that have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in a particular joint will be jumping out of your chairs in frustration saying who is he to say I don’t have it! Well, I am just describing the thought process of loads of our clients who feel they are getting on in later life that come into our clinic and feel that any joint pain ‘must’ be osteoarthritis. Most leave relieved that they don’t. Again, and again people tend to think the worst when they feel joint stiffness and pain. Again, and again health professionals fail to incorporate what may be going on with the muscles around the joint, or the stresses going through the joint and whether these muscles are adequately strong enough or mobile enough to tolerate the stresses of daily life. It is common that people tend to see what is going on within the bones in the joint and ignore everything else around it! Physiotherapists through a series of tests will have an excellent understanding of what is truly going on and will also take into the whole patient’s clinical history. Now, for those that have been definitively diagnosed with osteoarthritis here are 3 other myths that you need to be aware of and take absolutely no heed of them!
Most people with osteoarthritis will require Surgery.
Taking a pro-active role in dealing with arthritis can prevent the need for surgery in the long run. Again, specific exercises laid out by your physiotherapist will ensure this. For those of you that have had knee/ hip replacements or are scheduled to have one. Please, please, please do not ignore your rehab. Too often in the clinic, we see people come in 9 months to a year after surgery still unable to walk properly and in great pain. Many haven’t worked hard enough on strengthening the joint.
Unfortunately, patients are often left to their own devices with a list of exercises they are expected to do on their own accord. In fact, it is very important for such patients to get a lot of ‘hands-on’ type treatment to reduce the pain and increase the mobility of the joint. Spending time with your physiotherapist doing the exercises will ensure two things, no.1 being you are doing them correctly and no.2 you are doing them at the right intensity so that you can make the necessary strength gains.
Finally, I cannot stress enough the importance of strengthening your joints if you do have an arthritic joint, but don't always assume it is arthritis. As I said, there could be a multitude of factors causing the pain you are experiencing, and most are fixable.
Just ensure you get a quality assessment.