Here’s a fact for you to consider: According to the World Health Organisation, 1 out of every 6 people in India today suffer from some form of arthritis. That translates to about 15%-17% of our population – not too far from that of the United States, where a staggering 23% of all adults suffer from the condition. In fact, the US pays close to $130 billion dollars on arthritis treatment alone every year.
So what are we doing wrong? And why are the numbers growing?
While it is a fact that even though arthritis cases are on the rise, science is yet to find a permanent cure for arthritis. But even while researchers are going all out to find faster and better ways to ease the pain, what doesn’t help is a dismal level of awareness among the rest of us – the vulnerable lot. And we say ‘us’ because all of us are vulnerable today.
Did you know, for instance, that even something like difficulty in climbing stairs, or a sudden stiffness after sitting for a long time could translate as symptoms? Or the fact that women are much more vulnerable than men? Or that early detection can actually control the problem to a large extent? One hears repeat doctor warnings on how bad lifestyle could and often does give birth to the condition. Lack of regular physical exercise, poor diet and overworking oneself – all perpetrate the trend. Apart from the general ignorance, there is a lot of misinformation that only adds to the confusion. Thus, on this World Arthritis Day, let us clear some common misconceptions regarding this disorder.
Take a look at some of the common myths associated with arthritis – and if you’re guilty of harbouring any, about time you expel them!
- There is no ‘one type’ of arthritis
There are, at average estimates, about a 100 different kinds of arthritis 1http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/arthritis-statistics-facts.php caused by as many different reasons. Gout, crystals, autoimmune rheumatoid, virus-caused – the reasons could be varied, and the treatment for each, understandably, is different. The mistake most make is by assuming that arthritis is, well, arthritis – and that what works for one, works for all. Truth is, your treatment for arthritis hasn’t even started until you have visited a specialist and determined the arthritis-type affecting you.
- Not just a problem of the aged
You are living in the Stone Age if you still associate arthritis with grandparents. Children and young adults can also get affected, and truth is, cases of juvenile arthritis are only on the rise today. India is grappling with about 20,000 children’s cases every year, and although the exact causes are yet to be determined, a delay in diagnosis only worsens the situation.
- Joint pain? Don’t wait
There are a few types of arthritis that don’t just affect your joints but cause damage to your heart and other organs. So if you’ve been ignoring those joint pains and other symptoms, or wishing them to disappear, you’re putting yourself at great risk. On the other hand, an early treatment prevents any form of permanent joint and organ damage. So, at the first sight of symptoms, do make an appointment at the doctor’s clinic.
- End of the world – not
Inflammation, the occasional debilitating pain, incapacity to do the most routine daily chores – there’s no doubt that arthritis can and does change one’s lives profoundly. And yet – it doesn’t mean that your world’s come to an end. Any specialist will tell you that there are definite ways to fight it, and to ensure that it doesn’t take over your spirit. Start with keeping a check on your weight. A lighter weight will mean less pressure on your joints.
- “What does food have to do with it?”
There are no magic potions – let’s be clear about that, but keeping an overall healthy system is extremely important for this condition. And that starts with your diet2https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/11/top-10-foods-power-ease-arthritis-pain/. Lean meats, fish, food rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and lots and lots of fresh vegetables – that’s what your kitchen stock should look like. Another significant reason why diet is so important here is because being arthritic increases your chances of being affected by type 2 diabetes, heart diseases or obesity – all the more reason to watch your food intake.
- Exercise – You Can!
This is possibly the biggest myth among them all – ‘if in pain, stop the exercise.’ Truth is, inactivity3https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/in-depth/arthritis/art-20047971 can cause your joints to further deteriorate. Your best bet, on the other hand, are low-impact, easy-paced and range-of-motion-based exercises. Water aerobics, walking on level ground, Tai Chi and yoga are all great options. They help resist wear and tear, strengthen the muscles around your joints and help maintain a healthy weight. A win-win all the way!
Many people suffering from arthritis report that physiotherapy helped them a great deal with mobility issues, besides pain relief and improving overall fitness levels.
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