For an illness affecting hundreds of millions around the world, there is a lot of misunderstanding about arthritis. Sure, there are some things we don't know, including how to cure this disease. But there is lots of factual knowledge available, if you know where to look. This evidence-based thinking can challenge the views people have. We have set out to dispel - with a little help from leading, global experts - the more common misconceptions. Go forth and spread the word.
Myth #1: Arthritis is an old person's condition
It is true that arthritis is more common in older people, but it can strike at any age. For example, in the UK - according to the NHS - there are 15,000 who live with the illness as children. For many others, like myself, it starts in the 30s. Hardly old aged! Arthritis and other musculoskeletal diseases are highly prevalent in people of working age and it's the most common illness in the UK workforce. Remember, regardless of your age, you are not alone.
Myth #2: Lifestyle changes won't help fight arthritis
Everyone's arthritis condition is completely unique, since we all have different bodies and there are hundreds of different types of arthritis. It's therefore hard to say what will work for every individual. But evidence is strong that things like changing your diet (such as avoiding inflammatory foods) and losing weight can make a huge difference. Taking supplements containing vitamins, minerals and extracts will also affect different people differently. Yet nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium and curcumin have strong scientific evidence connecting them with relieving symptoms for some people.
Myth #3: Exercise will make things worse
It's easy to think that exercise might damage the already tender joints and bones of someone living with arthritis. But the evidence is now clear that the benefits of exercise far outweigh any downsides. Versus Arthritis advise that, "low-impact exercise is recommended for people with all types of arthritis." Activities such as walking, tai chi, swimming, aqua aerobics, yoga and cycling can be very beneficial. A physiotherapist can provide tailored advice depending on your specific condition and state of health.
Myth #4: The future is bleak
One of the little spoken downsides of arthritis is the mental impact on sufferers. Put bluntly, it is a depressing condition to live with. But try to focus on the positives when the discomfort gets you down. Do things to occupy your mind and body. Diet and exercise can have a significant impact on mood as well. Also, awareness of the condition is growing, so people you interact with will better understand your needs and feelings. And all around the world, thousands of smart people in universities and institutions, are researching cures. Perhaps one is just around the corridor?