Osteoarthritis Myths

Osteoarthritis myths - Invigorate Health and Performance

We just wanted to bust some common myths surrounding Osteoarthritis!

I can’t exercise because of joint pain

Many think that because of pain, they should not be exercising as exercise will only make it worse. However, low impact exercises such as walking, swimming and yoga can help to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint which can decrease pain and improve symptoms of OA. Mobility exercises and stretching are also integral to optimal joint health. Weak and stiff joints tend to be more symptomatic than strong and mobile joints.

Osteoarthritis is inevitable with age

Yes, the risk of developing OA rises as you age however there are many things you can do to reduce the risk of OA. Exercise and weight management are two important things to consider when trying to reduce the risk of developing OA.

Diet doesn’t affect osteoarthritis

Being overweight puts increased pressure on your weight-bearing joints (1kg of weight = 3kg of pressure on your knees). Being overweight can increase the likelihood of developing OA and can speed the progression of the condition. Eating a healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight, which will decrease the pressure on your joints.

Surgery is the only fix

To assume that nothing can be done to manage OA symptoms and that surgery is the only option is false. Exercise, weight loss, pain management techniques, alternative therapy and pain medications are all options to help manage OA symptoms.

My parents had OA so I will have it too

While your chances of developing OA are greater if your parents had it, it does not mean that you will definitely have it too. Regular exercise and weight management can significantly decrease the risk of developing OA.

Repetitive running can cause osteoarthritis

Numerous studies have shown that running does not increase the risk of developing OA. Instead, studies actually show that running can reduce the likelihood of developing OA as it helps to maintain a healthy body weight and strengthen muscles while impact loading can create resilience in the cartilage, therefore making it stronger.

Osteoarthritis is not just a wear and tear condition

OA is typically referred to as a wear and tear condition, where the cartilage becomes worn down over time. This is false! OA is not just caused by wear and tear of the cartilage. Many people who have their knees scanned may show that half have decreased joint space due to eroded cartilage. Out of this half, only half of those will actually have any symptoms. In OA, the entire joint complex is involved with advancing age and multiple other risk factors to be considered. If anything, wear and tear is what keeps the joint healthy. Proper use of the joints keep the joint lubricated and strong while disuse can make the joints stiff, brittle and more prone to damage over time. In OA, there are signs of inflammation, therefore a diet that creates a pro-inflammatory environment can increase symptoms and speed up the progression of OA. Food such as red meats, polyunsaturated fats, refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, carbonated beverages and dairy are all pro-inflammatory. Clients’ pain have improved just by cutting out soft drinks and dairy.

Written by Nicholas Dimos (Physiotherapist)