Debunking the Myths, Misconceptions, and Misinformation About Arthritis
Arthritis is the most common and disabling chronic condition in American women.
It affects one in seven Americans or 40 million adults; with the aging of the
Baby Boomers, 60 million Americans are expected to be afflicted with arthritis
in 2020. Despite the extensive prevalence of this condition, and abundant
information about this disease, myths and misinformation still prevail. The
top five myths about arthritis are listed below, with a brief "antidote". As
always, if you are affected by arthritis and want the most appropriate information
for you, consult your healthcare provider.
- Arthritis is a natural consequence of aging.
False. The term "arthritis" simply refers to an inflammation
of the joints. There are now known to be more than 100 types of arthritis.
Five of those account for nine out of ten cases: osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid
arthritis (RA), fibromyalgia, lupus, and gout. All of them are caused by
disease processes. While the risk of OA (osteoarthritis) increases with age,
it should not be considered a "normal" by-product of the aging process.
- Arthritis only affects women. While it is true that women are more likely to
be affected and to be affected more seriously (2 out of 3 women over 65 have
OA), more than half of all men over 65 will also have OA.
- Arthritis only affects postmenopausal women. False. Many types of arthritis actually
begin in the 20's or 30's; JRA (juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) can begin in
toddlers. Arthritis is actually the most common chronic condition among
those over the age of 15. Two out of three Americans with arthritis are under
- Nothing can be done to treat arthritis. Not
true. Depending upon the type of arthritis you have, there are numerous
prescription and over-the-counter treatment options. There are also a host
of lifestyle changes that can be made, physical therapy programs, joint replacement
procedures, and even tools that can be employed to greatly improve the symptoms
and prognosis for patients with arthritis.
- Arthritis is arthritis; if I have it, I can just
treat myself with over the counter medications. While
an estimated 6 million Americans subscribe to this approach, there is a tremendous
value to seeing your physician to be properly evaluated and treated for this
condition. Arthritis can start as just minor aches and pains, but if
left undiagnosed and untreated, it can become a significant disability.
Advances in medical treatment have led to new hope for millions of people
with this potentially disabling condition.
Created: 11/26/2003  - Donnica Moore, M.D.