Osteoarthritis, also known as ‘degenerative arthritis,’ contrary to popular belief, isn’t a disease that effects only older people.
According to latest studies, early symptoms of a secondary condition can be found in relatively young people too. Injury, excess weight, an unhealthy lifestyle and genetic conditions are among the major factors causing osteoarthritis. People with osteoarthritis suffer gradual loss of cartilage, primarily in the knees, hips, hands, feet and spine. About 27 million Americans have osteoarthritis, which affects more women than men, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2030, it is projected that 25% of the U.S. population (nearly 67 million people) will have physician-diagnosed arthritis. Medical care for osteoarthritis patients in the United States costs $185.5 billion a year.
Even though it is one of the most prevalent diseases, people perpetuate and harbor countless misconceptions relating to Osteoarthritis, its causes, effects and remedies. Let’s dispels a few myths regarding this degenerative bone disease.
Myth #1. Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis are synonymous
They are completely different diseases: Osteoarthritis is something that occurs with trauma or aging and it’s a problem with cartilage. The cartilage degenerates and loses its ability to protect between joints and patients get arthritis or spurs or a pain syndrome.
Osteoporosis effects the bone itself, not the cartilage, and is most importantly, unfortunately, a silent disease. There is loss of the integrity and strength and power of the bone itself and most patients don’t have symptoms until they get a fracture.
Myth #2. It affects only the old
One of the most common misconceptions about the disease is that it only affects older people. While the risk of osteoarthritis increases with age, it can affect individuals of all ages. Overall it affects 13.9% of adults aged 25 and older and 33.6% of those are 65 and above. Also, younger women with bad footwear choices are also at the highest risk. Loosely fitted trainers and high heels can alter the body’s posture and increase pressure on the foot, ankle and knee joints, increasing the risk of osteoarthritis.
Myth #3. It cannot be treated
While there is still no cure yet for osteoarthritis, research shows that early diagnosis and appropriate management can help reduce the pain and disability associated with many types of arthritis. Also gentle back strengthening exercises like yoga could also help.
Myth #4. Winter is the culprit
It is commonly believed that cold weather can cause osteoarthritis. The truth is that cold weather can only exacerbate joint pain and joint stiffness. Winter will not have any effect on the progression of the disease.
Myth #5. It isn’t in your Genes
Highly incorrect: Osteoarthritis IS linked to genetics and at high risk are women and families. If a mother has osteoporosis and/or a fracture, there is a higher risk for the daughter or even the son. They tend to develop it in the same joints and around the same age as their mothers. Other risk factors are clearly related to menopause — early menopause or late onset of periods –so estrogen deficiency is a risk factor.
Yes, it can’t be treated, but proper exercises, weight-loss, and a calcium-rich diet can help you keep osteoarthritis away for a long time. Practice yoga for better back posture and bone-strength. You should feel flexible and comfortable in your joints during any activity.