Combating myths about arthritis
Arthritis is one of the most misunderstood health issues in the world. Here, one expert breaks down what is true and what isn’t about this condition.
According to Arborvitae director of health and wellbeing Brendan Howell, more than 3 million Australians suffer from arthritis and yet it remains a “highly misunderstood disease”.
“As a result, a lot of people are not diagnosed, misdiagnosed or are not managing the disease as effectively as they could be. Unfortunately, a lot of people fall into the trap of self-diagnosing online and are influenced by a lot of rubbish content that is both incorrect and peddling ‘miracle cures’,” he said.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare last year reported that one in seven Australians have some form of arthritis, he noted, and added that Arthritis Australia states that the figure is closer to one in six and that around 3.5 million Australians are affected by some type of arthritis, of which around two million are between the ages of 15 and 64.
Arthritis cost the Australian health system six billion dollars in 2016, Mr Howell said, and this figure is rising every year.
“These are big numbers. A lot of people are being impacted by arthritis and not just older people; it is also affecting younger people.”
“We offer a call centre at Arborvitae for people who ring in with questions about our products. We receive a lot of weird and wonderful questions when it comes to arthritis. There is certainly a lot of misinformation in the marketplace,” he said.
Mr Howell has prepared a list of points to debunk some of the myths surrounding arthritis to assist people who may be experiencing issues with the disease.
There is only one type of arthritis: wrong
There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis and related diseases, he said.
“The most common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia and gout.”
Arthritis only happens to older people: wrong
“Arthritis can affect people at any age. In fact, the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, is known to affect people as young as teenagers due to repetition or injury. Inflammation begins in the joint lining and then damages both cartilage and bone,” he said.
Arthritis can be cured: wrong
“Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints and it can affect one joint or multiple joints. Arthritis cannot be cured however it can be managed,” Mr Powell advised.
Arthritis can be prevented: true
While there are some forms of arthritis that can’t be prevented, for most people, the most common form of arthritis can be prevented, by reducing the risk, or delay of the onset of some types, he said.
“This can be done by maintaining a healthy weight, staying active, don’t smoke, avoiding injury and repetitive movements, eating more plant based foods and avoiding foods that cause inflammation in the body.”
Weather makes arthritis worse: unproven
“Some people say that they can predict when it is going to rain then their joints start to ache. Others say that cold weather affects their arthritis,” Mr Powell said.
“Numerous studies have been undertaken on this topic and the outcomes are varied. Taking good care of your health is considered the best approach to the management of arthritis.”
Some foods make arthritis worse: true
“Inflammatory foods are bad for the body in general, but particularly bad for those who suffer from arthritis,” he explained.
“Avoid foods such as fried and processed foods, sugar and refined carbs, dairy products, alcohol, salt and preservative and corn oil. Instead, increase your consumption of plant-based foods, omega 3 rich fish including salmon, tuna and mackerel, soybeans, virgin olive oil and fresh fruit and vegetables.”
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