We know that you have unanswered questions. We will do our best to answer them for you.
For any wellness action plan to work there must be a clear understanding of the various aspects involved. The puzzle pieces must be identifiable identified and laid out before you before steps can be taken to piece them together.
This all begins with clearing up the myths and setting forth the facts of the situation, and this chapter aims to do that for arthritis.
The TRUTH About Arthritis
The line between fact and fiction is often thin. People form their beliefs on what they think sounds reasonable based on their education on a given topic, whether they gain that information from a friend or doctor, read it in a magazine or online, or saw and heard it on the news.
Myths in healthcare take shape (and indeed take on a life of their own) when a sound bite or piece of information is spread and made public as fact before the person or companies releasing that information have the necessary context in which to consider the so-called facts.
Without a context in which to understand something, any piece of content (information) is meaningless.
When it comes to diseases and conditions like arthritis, the pain and symptoms can wreak havoc on a life.
If left unchecked, the quality of life of the one suffering arthritis can be destroyed, as well as the life of those close to them. As a person suffering from arthritis, you know how difficult it can be to maintain your quality of life, your daily routines, your cheery disposition and positive outlook regarding your disease and your life.
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This is especially so true during times of extreme pain and immobility. Please know and believe me when I say, severe pain, immobility and negative outlook do not have to be the center of your life. This book aims to help you believe otherwise.
To begin, I wish to present you with seven of the most common myths surrounding arthritis. Please take the time to read this chapter and consider each myth. For those myths you may believe, try instead turning your mind toward understanding and then believing the facts.
It is my sincere hope that by understanding these basic yet simple facts you will be able to find a more positive view of your arthritic condition and, as a result, be more inclined to follow the therapeutic solutions found in later chapters.
After all, a firm belief based in fact goes a long way toward beginning and maintaining a wellness program, especially when one is facing daily pain, and physical and emotional debilitation.
Let’s now take a look at those Arthritis myths.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Osteoarthritis (OA) are the Same
Perhaps the most pervasive myth of all is the notion that there is only one type of arthritis and it just happens to have different symptoms for different people. While it is easy to see how people might think that, it is not the case. In fact, there are over 100 different types of arthritis; the three most common being osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile arthritis (JA).
While rheumatoid and juvenile arthritis are diseases – autoimmune diseases, to be precise – osteoarthritis (OA) is not a disease at all. It is a symptom of joint degeneration.
Autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid and juvenile arthritis (and type I diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, etc.), are progressive and associated with a systemic autoimmune disorder.
That is to say, the body makes antibodies that attack its own tissues and joints when triggered by some unknown event. Such triggers are known to include a reaction to a virus, the flu shot and stress. In the case of RA and JA, the joints are affected from the internal imbalance.
On the other hand, osteoarthritis is the result of any combination of several external factors, including traumatic physical injury and excessive sports or physical activities over the course of decades.
This causes wear-and-tear of the joints, the cartilage separating the joints, and the surrounding tissues (tendon and muscle).
Therefore, “arthritis” can be correctly thought of as a disorder of the joints with two main causes: (1) incorrect autoimmune response and (2) wear- and- tear on the joints. So while the symptoms may be similar, RA and JA are diseases while OA is a symptom of a structural joint problem brought on by external stressors.
Just having basic clarity on this first myth alone should provide you with some anxiety relief. After all, most people with arthritis have osteoarthritis (only 1% percent have RA). Simply knowing that it is not a disease and that its symptoms are quite manageable with natural, non-invasive approaches should provide you with enough hope for change that you find almost immediate improvement in your daily outlook.
Arthritis Is a Normal Part of Aging and Only Affects the Elderly
If you look around town it is easy to see how this myth formed and took hold. There are plenty of elderly afflicted with arthritic conditions. And since many elderly can be seen with the visible signs of arthritis (i.e., misshapen hands, walkers and wheelchairs), one might likely conclude that arthritis is a normal part of the aging process. However, this is not exactly the case anymore.
To begin correcting this myth it is important to know that rheumatoid and juvenile arthritis are autoimmune diseases and, therefore, have nothing to do with aging.
Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is a result of joint wear -and -tear based in injury and/or overuse, which can come on at any time—or not at all. As such, OA also is not a “normal” part of the aging process.
By keeping the immune system strong and stable, and by eating right, exercising right and taking care of bone and joint health, the onset and debilitating effects of arthritis need not be part of your aging process. And with better diagnosis and natural treatment remedies and therapies available, when you find you have the condition you can stop it and reduce or even reverse its symptoms, so they will not progress into your senior years.
If You Don’t Look “Sick,” You Don’t Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
If one is only looking to the outward signs and symptoms of RA to know if they have it, they will be amiss. Even when people do not have the visible outward signs of rheumatoid arthritis, such as red swollen joints and misshapen fingers, they can still suffer symptoms, like joint pain, fatigue and a general sense of feeling unwell.
Again, RA is an autoimmune disease and can be active before visible signs of it manifest.
The best way to know if you have, or are at risk for, RA is speak to your primary care physician, look into family history, and do some blood work.
Knowing your risks ahead of time, or early enough in the continuum of the disease, will help you get a jump on the symptoms and immune regulation needed to live a better quality of life.
If You Have Arthritis, You Should not Exercise
This is a myth most believed by those suffering the symptoms of arthritic pain and inflammation. Decades ago patients were told not to exercise because it would rub the joints and make things worse. This view is incorrect.
While it is true that depending on your arthritis type and conditions certain exercises should be avoided, this is not a blanket statement about all forms of exercise.
The fact is, a certain amount of exercise can greatly help reduce the symptoms of arthritis. Most often, those with arthritis in the hips and hands feel pain in the joints and inflammation and/or contraction in the muscles and tissues around those joints.
However, part of what is contributing to the pain and stiffness is the limited range of motion within the joint structure that has happened as a result of not exercising.
The first step is to begin exercising slowly, lightly and with limits so as not to worsen or aggravate the conditions. Moving each joint slowly at first helps lubricate the joints and stretch the muscles.
Strengthening exercises can help stabilize the arthritis joint structures. This in turn helps bring fresh blood, and thus oxygen and nutrients, to the area, which decreases inflammation, stiffness and pain. Exercise can increase in rigorousness and time as you are able.
The myth that one must rest and not exercise with arthritis no longer holds water. In fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) advocates exercises to help keep your muscles strong and your joints flexible … and to reduce the symptoms of depression, which can be common among people with a long-term illness like rheumatoid.”
Different Climates Have No Effect on Arthritis
This myth is especially troublesome to me. To explain why, it is necessary to understand that there is truth within the myth, depending on the context of the conversation.
To begin, According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is no scientific evidence to support the notion that cold weather or environments cause arthritis or alter its course, or that warm weather can reverse or cure arthritis. All of this is true.
However, the important issue here is that both cold and warm weather can affect arthritis in negative or positive ways.
As such, climate does play a role in how one experiences the symptoms of their arthritis. Cold weather constricts muscles, tendons and blood vessels, causing and this causes constriction around the joints, and thus pain and limited range of motion.
Heat allows muscles to expand and blood to flow, and so relieves compression around joints and helps move fresh blood into the arthritis area. This reduces pain and stiffness and increases range of motion.
Damp environments (whether warm or cold) cause inflammation around joints, and thus restrict movement and cause pain.
So while cold weather does not cause arthritis and warm weather does not cure it, it is clear that climate does play a role in how one experiences their arthritic condition and the symptoms involved therein.
Therefore, temperature and climate should not be ignored when putting into place an arthritis relief action plan.
Arthritis Will Leads to Disability, Wheelchair, Nursing Home
This myth is a hard one to bust, especially since it is formed and held in place by individual belief systems. As a result of our history of poor arthritis diagnosis, treatment and prevention methods, many who contracted arthritis did end up with a walker, in a wheelchair and living in assisted environments. Seeing them today can make one think the same will happen to you. However, what used to be a fact has is now become a fiction.
The first thing to understand is that arthritis is a continuum; it is not one size fits all. Moreover, as awareness of the RA disease and the OA condition increases, improved medical tests have become more specific to diagnose it sooner, where so treatment and preventive measures can be put into place. Three of the common blood tests are: measure the rheumatoid factor (RF), citrullinated peptide antibodies (anti-CCP), and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). Moreover, with information on diet, supplementation and with aided therapies like chiropractic, acupuncture, quantum touch and others, there are many restorative options available to halt its progression (if it is already there) and prevent it (if not).
Rheumatoid arthritis is the more difficult of the two most common types to control for, as it is an autoimmune disease. But early detection and stabilization of the immune system can help keep it from progressing too rapidly. In fact, a study in the Journal of Rheumatology found that “after 10 years, 94% of the patients managed daily life activities independently.”1 This is promising indeed, especially since those in the study did not have a wide blanket of options at their disposal as shown in this book. Moreover, supplementation and change of diet and various therapies can reduce its symptoms while strengthening the affected and surrounding joint areas.
Osteoarthritis is easier to account for, stop and manage symptoms as they are mostly related to lifestyle and activity choices, bone and joint health and weight. Thus, the notion that if you get arthritis your history is written and you will end up in a wheelchair or in assisted living, no longer is valid today. That is if one takes the necessary steps, as shown detailed in this book.
Arthritis Sufferers Have To Live In Pain
This is a huge myth that is widely believed. Why? Because many arthritis sufferers do live their life in pain, with daily stiffness and inflammation. They are suffering greatly, yet needlessly. Why? Because they don’t know all of the parts of the arthritis puzzle. Knowing them instills knowledge and knowledge provides the impetus and power for change.
By engaging in mind/body exercises to reduce stress, eating an anti-inflammatory diet, stretching, exercising, taking proper supplementation, using therapeutic creams and seeing practitioners for complementary wellness visits, you can greatly reduce, if not almost completely remove, the daily throbbing pain of arthritis. Inflammation decreases, blood flow increases, joint pressure reduces, joint support strengthens and pain slips away. While it takes time and effort, and a lifestyle change, you do not have to live your life in debilitating pain just because you have arthritis.
Will there may likely be a certain level of pain associated with your arthritic condition, even after mindfully doing all of the steps and taking all of the advice in this book? Perhaps, but it should be nowhere near the levels you feel today. Even with the best treatment plan, the best health care providers, the best supplements and diet there are so many things to control for. These include sleep patterns, stress levels, genetic makeup, and potential slips and falls that can make increase your pain increase. However, many of these you can control for and so you do have the means to reduce significantly the pain associated with arthritis.
Arthritis Can’t Be Reversed
The notion that the damage done by arthritis cannot be reversed is perhaps the biggest myth of all. It is easy to see why people think this, and thus how the myth started, but it simply is untrue. You see, many of the “common beliefs” about arthritis are derived from a Western medical point of view.
This view believes nothing can be done to reverse damage, and so patients need to manage their condition as best they can. In other words, symptomatic relief only.
However, traditional and holistic medicines have natural methods for increasing bone density, rebuilding of bone and regenerating soft tissue. In other words, a natural approach to reversing damage done by arthritis based on using supplements, topical creams and energy medicine. In the chapters that follow you will learn about these natural approaches and how they can help you.