Whether predicting weather by joint aches or losing points on your golf game because of a trick knee, arthritis can impact movement, cause pain and sideline you unnecessarily.

How much do you really know about this condition that can cause pain, swelling and inflammation in one or more joints?

“Arthritis is one of the most common conditions affecting Americans today,” said John Magaldi, MD, chief of rheumatology at the Hartford HealthCare Bone & Joint Institute. Of the more than 100 forms of joint condition, he said rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) are the most common. “RA affects the immune system and can damage muscles, connective tissue and joints. OA is the result of wear and tear of cartilage protecting the ends of the bones in joints.”

> Experiencing knee or hip pain? Take this health risk assessment

Arthritis myths

  1. Arthritis is an old person’s problem. While prevalent in older people, many varieties can affect children and teens. Juvenile arthritis can actually harm joints permanently.
  2. Arthritis causes all joint pain. It’s important to work with a specialist, such as a rheumatologist, to diagnose the cause of joint pain because it can be soft tissue injuries, bursitis or tendonitis.
  3. Arthritis pain goes away in time. Don’t we wish! By seeking expert care early, you’ll save your joints from harm. RA and other types of arthritis also harm organs such as the heart, brain, skin, eyes and lungs. Effective treatments can ease pain and slow the impact arthritis has on your body.
  4. Arthritis worsens with exercise. The opposite is actually true – exercise can ease the swelling and pain of arthritis while you benefit from added strength, flexibility and range of motion. Talk to your healthcare provider to be cleared before starting a new program.
  5. Arthritis likes heat. Heat from a hot water bottle or heating pad can ease stiffness and aches in your joints, but ice also helps by reducing inflammation. If your joints are bothering you, apply heat before you exercise and ice after for any swelling.
  6. Arthritis causes deformities. If left untreated, arthritis can definitely cause gnarling in the hands and feet. But, early detection and treatment can help joints function properly and look normal.

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