Top 10 Misconceptions about Arthritis

1. All joint pains are the same. They require the same treatment.

FALSE. Joint pains (or arthritis) can occur due to several diseases. Each disease requires a different treatment. Hence it is very important to diagnose the cause of arthritis in each patient and then decide the treatment plan. There is no blanket treatment for arthritis.

2. Foods like yogurt, ice cream, and meat worsen arthritis.

FALSE. Until today, there has been no proof that any food worsens arthritis. In fact, we encourage all arthritis patients to eat whatever they wish to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Their arthritic illness should be controlled with appropriate medications – not by curtailing diet. However, in gout (related to high uric acid), certain foodstuffs need to be reduced in quantity.

3. There is no treatment for arthritis in Allopathic medicine.

FALSE. In recent years, there have been tremendous advances in the diagnosis and treatment of various types of arthritis. If properly diagnosed and treated in time, patients can expect to live a normal life.

4. Medicines used to treat arthritis have severe side effects.

FALSE. When used appropriately by a skilled immunologist and rheumatologist, anti-arthritis medications are very safe and usually do not cause any major side effects. Even if any side effects occur, the majority of them are reversible on stopping the drug.

5. Arthritis occurs in older age only.

FALSE. Arthritis can occur at any age – including in children. This is because immune system dysfunction can occur at any age, and no age group is exempt to the development of arthritis.

6. Arthritis is a disease of the bones.

FALSE. except for Osteo-Arthritis that is from mechanical causes. Other arthritic diseases are diseases of the immune system. Hence they can have many other symptoms than just joint pains. If the disease is not controlled, then the bones get involved and the joints get deformed.

7. Steroids are required for the treatment of arthritis.

FALSE. Although steroids are used during the initial treatment of arthritis, they are not required to be continued for longer periods. We can stop steroids if appropriate other drugs are given.

8. Arthritis is produced by a cold, wet climate.

FALSE. In cold weather, patients with arthritis tend to feel more pain. It is not that cold weather itself produces arthritis. If appropriate treatment is given, patients will not feel any pain even in cold weather.

9. Blood tests can tell the cause of arthritis.

FALSE. Diagnosis of arthritic disease is a clinical skill and blood test results only help the doctor to confirm or rule out other diseases. In fact, many tests used in arthritis evaluation may be positive in normal people also. Hence, an examination by a skilled doctor is very important.

10. Patients with arthritis cannot take part in sports or live an active life.

FALSE. If arthritis is diagnosed and treated at an early stage, patients can expect to have a normal life and take part in all physical activities including sports, exercise, and everyday physical work.

 

Dr. Sajjan Shenoy N

Specialist, Immunology, and Rheumatology

KMC Hospital, Mangalore.

 

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