Health Topics

Do You Know the Facts Behind These Arthritis Myths?

Are you trying to manage your arthritis symptoms better? Or, do you want more information about the disorder? Visit the listing below to learn more about arthritis.

By M. Elaine Husni, M.D., M.P.H., Vice Chair, Cleveland Clinic Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Treatment Center, Orthopaedic & Rheumatologic Institute.

  • Myth: All joint pain is arthritis.

    Fact: Other conditions, such as tendonitis, bursitis or other soft-tissue injuries also cause joint pain. Evaluation by a rheumatologist will lead to the right diagnosis and treatment.

  • Myth: Rain and damp weather worsen arthritis.

    Fact: Although many believe that a twinge in the knee or knuckle can predict rain, there is no scientific evidence that dampness or humidity intensifies arthritis symptoms.

  • Myth: Take it easy if your arthritis acts up.

    Fact: Regular, sensible exercise may actually help your arthritis, although arthritic joints sometimes need a short period of rest followed by a gradual return to activity. It's important to maintain your strength and range of motion in your joints. Your doctor can guide you and suggest exercise that is gentler on the joints.

  • Myth: Handicap and loss of function are the inevitable outcome of rheumatoid arthritis.

    Fact: A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis does not mean life in a wheelchair. When rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed and treated early, the chances of maintaining joint function and mobility are very good.

  • Myth: Rum-soaked raisins, grapefruit and eggplant or other "nightshade" vegetables are dietary cures for arthritis.

    Fact: A change in diet has no effect on arthritis. Arthritis has no cure, but medications can effectively manage symptoms and permit normal activity.

  • Myth: Ice is less helpful than heat for sore joints.

    Fact: Both cold and heat are useful in arthritis. Applying ice at night can ease joint inflammation arising from daily activities. Applying heat in the morning can relax the muscles that move stiff joints.

  • Myth: Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is dangerous! It's best to put it off as long as possible.

    Fact: Early treatment for this progressive disease leads to improved outcomes and a better quality of life. Don't wait to seek help!

  • Myth: Immature bones aren't susceptible to arthritis. Only the elderly get the condition.

    Fact: Children suffer from various forms of arthritis, the most common being juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Young adults can develop arthritis as well (remember, there are more than 40 related types of arthritis).

  • Myth: Supplements like glucosamine benefit everyone with arthritis.

    Fact: Glucosamine has been shown to benefit only those with osteoarthritis, possibly by stimulating the re-growth of worn-out cartilage. We advise people to take glucosamine (with chondroitin) for three months to see if it makes any difference. If so, continue using it; if not, don't waste your money.