How to treat arthritis

There are many stories and myths about arthritis that have been floating around for decades. These may involve tales of how arthritis originates, or they may be falsehoods about effectiveness of treatments or lifestyle changes.

Don’t Pack Your Bags Just Yet

One major myth about lifestyle change is that moving to a warmer climate will ease arthritis pain. This likely comes from the idea that heat can be an effective treatment for arthritis. After all, don’t physical therapists use heat therapy to ease pain and decrease inflammation? While a warmer climate may be beneficial for some arthritis sufferers, certain types of arthritis can actually be exacerbated by warmer temperatures. It is important to make unbiased observations about how warm temperatures actually affect your specific arthritis symptoms before uprooting your life to relocate to another state.

A Dangerous Habit? Nope. Just Annoying.

Another myth is that cracking or popping your knuckles causes arthritis. Although it you may drive those around you crazy while doing it, according to WebMD there is no scientific evidence that knuckle cracking contributes to the development of arthritis. The noise that comes from knuckles is not the sound of bones cracking. As bones are stretched apart, a gas bubble forms in the joint and then pops. It is possible to damage ligaments while cracking knuckles, but it will not cause arthritis.

Get Moving! Eat Healthy!

Some also claim that exercise is bad for people experiencing symptoms of arthritis — that it causes the disease to worsen because of stress on the joints. Overdoing the wrong types of exercises can certainly cause excess stress and pain, but doing the right exercises and stretches will improve range of motion, build muscles to support affected joints, and can minimize pain and stiffness. Before beginning an exercise regimen, make sure to check with a doctor. Most will recommend 30 minutes (or so) of light exercise and/or stretching on a daily basis depending on your physical condition.

A better way to decrease stress on joints is to maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, adopt healthy eating habits that lighten the load that your joints have to carry. Nutritious food, especially fruits and vegetables, can give your body the proper nutrients and help you stave off weight gain. Avoiding excess sodium in your diet is also helpful.

Seek a Doctor’s Advice

As you can see, there are many aspects of arthritis that are still misunderstood. When in doubt, ask a doctor, physical therapist, or other heath professional. Getting the correct diagnosis as early as possible can also help you start on a path to the best treatment for your individual needs, which will help prevent further joint damage.