We have to accept that the wear-and-tear that comes with ageing plays a role in a number of painful joint conditions. However, ageing is not always the culprit. According to experts at the world-renowned Bangkok Bumrungrad Hospital, joint pain usually results from inflammation of the joint – a condition known as arthritis, which has many causes. This led me to look at the myths about bones and joints and see what the facts are. Here are five popular myths and the reality behind them.
1. Arthritis is a disease for old people
As we just read, while our arthritis risk increases as we age, seniors don’t have a monopoly on the disease. This painful joint condition can strike children, teenagers and adults of all ages. The leading causes of joint inflammation include accident-related arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout, followed by infection, allergies and skin conditions. The cause in some cases is the long-term impact of weight-bearing joints from being obese, which put excessive weight on the joints. Diabetes and other chronic diseases can also cause arthritis by reducing blood flow to the hips and other joints. This can be made worse by unhealthy habits, such as excessive alcohol consumption or the use of herbal remedies containing steroids.
2. People with arthritis have to stop moving about
People with arthritis can encounter challenges carrying some of their normal activities, but they are not helpless. In fact they should continue to move about and exercise while they seek treatments for the inflammation. Some types of joint pain respond well to physical therapy and rehabilitation, sometimes in conjunction with braces and other devices that help support joints. In more severe cases, there are a number of surgical options that are effective in relieving pain. For obesity-related arthritis, there are medications and lifestyle changes to promote weight loss, which by itself can relieve pain by reducing the stress placed on joints
3. Osteoporosis is a painful bone condition
Osteoporosis is not a painful bone condition, contrary to popular belief. It is a disease that causes loss of bone mass; unless a bone is fractured, osteoporosis doe not cause pain. Osteoporosis can go undetected for years without causing any noticeable symptoms, while it gradually eats away at the bone. Detecting osteoporosis is done using a bone densitometry scan, which is an important element in osteoporosis prevention and early detection. There are medications to treat this disease, which will also improve with lifestyle changes, especially weight-bearing exercising.
4. After bones are developed, they don’t change
This is not true. Bones have the capacity to change throughout our lives. Their ever-changing nature can be attributed to osteoblasts, the cells responsible for generating bone-mass. Osteoblasts react when bones come under stress. They help boost bone strength to counter the stress, especially in and around the joints where stress is concentrated. Weight-bearing exercises are an effective way to help stimulate bone production. This helps to lower the risk of osteoporosis, or even reverse the trend in the loss of bone-mass, and promotes faster recovery from osteoporosis-related problems.
5. A bone fracture is less serious than a broken bone
Many people believe that a bone fracture is less serious than a broken bone, but this is not true. The two events are identical. Severe fractures can result in a bone breaking into two or more prices. Minor fracture involves a crack in the bone that remains intact, sometimes called a hairline fracture. The types and degrees of fracture vary, but each of them involves a bone that has been broken and requires medical attention.
The key message here is to incorporate regular weight-bearing exercises into your wellness program.