Joint pain can be one of the most frustrating ailments to live with, because it can easily interfere with many aspects of daily life- basically anything that requires movement. Because of its influence, there is a lot of information available about joint pain, what causes it, and the ways to alleviate or cure it altogether. Some of this information is quite beneficial, but other parts of it are less so, poorly researched, and may be harmless, or even detrimental. Listed here are some of the more questionable bits of information about joint pain. Some of the items might surprise you.
Not All Joint Pain Is Arthritis
If you thought that joint pain and arthritis were synonymous, you’re probably not the only one. It’s easy to understand while one might think this. After all, there are at least fifty types of arthritis. Even so, arthritis is just one category of joint pain. In some cases, joint pain is just a matter of injury to a given area. Tendonitis or bursitis are other potential causes; if you have additional symptoms such as fatigue, rash, mood swings, or inflammation, these may be indicators of lupus or fibromyalgia. The best thing to do is see a doctor to be properly diagnosed.Related: 10 Signs of Lupus You Shouldn’t Ignore
No, Crackling Your Knuckles Won’t Give You Arthritis
Have you ever been told not to crack/pop your knuckles? While this bit of advice is well-meaning, it is also completely unbacked by a number of studies. Cracking or popping your knuckles, or other joints, won’t result in the development of arthritis. In fact, it’s not uncommon for masseuses to perform joint popping on some of their client’s joints as part of the massage. What’s actually happening when you crack a knuckle has nothing to do with the bones themselves. It’s actually the forming and popping of gas trapped in the surrounding tendons. Furthermore, it’s also completely harmless, research finds.
Dry Weather Helps
Chances are, you’ve heard an elderly person say they could feel a weather change ‘in my bones’. Well, believe it or not, there is some truth to this phenomenon. One handy ‘benefit’ of arthritis is that it makes the joints more sensitive to changes in the weather; this detection comes in the form of pressure changes, which happens more often in humid weather. Fluctuations in barometric pressure can cause joints to expand in certain instances, causing significant pain for those suffering from arthritis. Aside from dry climates, relief can be found ironically enough in swimming and drinking lots of water.
Exercise Helps, Rather than Hurting
Speaking of exercise, you might think the best thing to do when dealing with painful joints is just to relax and take it easy. However, exercise is better for your joints in the long run. This is because regular exercise forces you to move your joints often in a safe and controlled way, ensuring that your joints maintain their full range of motion. If you’re worried about pain and damage while exercising, it’s fine to start or stick with stretching. For actual exercise, choose something low impact, like stationary bike riding or swimming, which puts less pressure on the joints.
Diet is Key
Your diet won’t completely protect you from developing arthritis, but it can reduce the amount you suffer from it. This is less a matter of direct influence and more a matter of weight gain; if you are heavier, you’re automatically putting more weight, more pressure onto your joints, exacerbating any painful, joint-related conditions. For this reason, it’s best to maintain a healthy weight, which means not overeating and getting a healthy balance that includes fruits and vegetables, modest amounts of meat, and limited sugar, salt, and fat. A proper diet and exercise work well together to keep you healthy.Related: Eggs are the Most Important Food
Joint Damage is not Inevitable
You might think that because you need to move, you’re going to endure damage to your joints brought on by arthritis. This is not necessarily the case. While your joints definitely can and will erode from arthritis in a vacuum, this damage can be largely prevented through medication. Specifically, COX-2 inhibitors, NSAIDs, and other drugs can relieve symptoms and prevent damage. If you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, it’s important to speak to a doctor in order to quickly establish a course of treatment; any delays in starting medication can cause irreparable damage to your joints, severely decreasing your quality of life.
While arthritis, and other forms of joint pain, can certainly bring changes to your lifestyle, it doesn’t have to make you miserable. Take the appropriate steps to manage your condition, and stay in contact with a medical professional to establish and adhere to a plan for treatment; this will improve your quality of life. Likewise, staying informed and keeping up to date as we learn more about joint pain will likely give you peace of mind, which is important for dealing with any injury or illness, especially a chronic one. As always, a healthy diet and regular exercise can help.Related: 7 Diseases You’re Confusing with Fibromyalgia