Arthritis is a broader term covering more than 100 diseases, which come with an assortment of pain, inflammation, swelling, stiffness, redness, warmth, tenderness and joint deformity. One in every five people in the UAE is diagnosed with some form of it.
Arthritis is often referred as the silent disease, as some people might be living with it — and in pain — without even knowing. That’s why creating awareness is crucial, so fewer people with symptoms suffer in silence and get the help they need.
Breaking away from these myths can lead to a better understanding of arthritis and contribute to better outcomes for people living with the disease.
Dr Humeira Badsha, consultant rheumatologist and board member at the Middle East Arthritis Foundation, takes World Arthritis Day to bust some of the most common myths in an effort to improve outcomes.
It just affects old people
Unlike the common belief that Arthritis can only affect elderly people, it is not age-specific. It can affect anyone, at any age, may it be children, adults or even middle-aged people. It’s true that certain conditions are more prevalent in some groups but anyone at any age can have arthritis.
It’s simply wear and tear
With arthritis come changes in the muscles, bones and synovial tissues at the joints. It may even cause fatigue and fever.
It can be cured
Arthritis can be managed, the disease progression can be slowed down, but so far there is no scientific evidence indicating that it can be cured. Researchers and medical specialists in the field have, however, suggested multiple ways to manage the disease so people who have it can have a much better quality of life.
If you look well, you must be well
If some days appear better than the others, or vice versa, it does not mean that the damage is any lesser or more. In fact, arthritis comes with variability, possible flares and remissions. Given its inconsistent nature, the best thing to do is to aim for a balance between rest and activity.
Exercising makes it worse
Exercise and muscle strengthening is the best way to support your joints and prevent the effects of ageing and arthritis. If you have pain from arthritis, low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, yoga and Pilates are the best. With regular exercise obesity can also be prevented.
So what can be done?
Some of the latest medical innovations such are knee kinesiography and Otilimab drug treatment, and both are quite helpful in reducing pain. Yet there are even simpler approaches, like exercising, walking, yoga, managing weight and regular meditation, all which tend to be exceptionally promising in managing pain on daily basis while improving quality of life.
Every pound of extra weight puts four pounds of additional pressure on the knees. Through low-impact exercises, one can manage weight, improve mobility, decrease pain, and even prevent future bone damage. Regular exercise also releases endorphins, which help the immune system and promote a sense of wellbeing.
Let’s not forget that stress has the potential to trigger autoimmune disease and certain forms of this disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis. So, it’s vital to combat stress to avoid flare ups, and to strive for a steady mental state. Research shows that yoga and meditation can work miraculously in works well in keeping focus, easing stress and anxiety, and even sleeping better.
There are many forms and techniques of meditation, including Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, active meditation, guided imagery and Transcendental Meditation. The trick to long-term results from meditation is to be consistent with your practice.
When living with arthritis, it is essential to stay informed on everything you can do to best cope with the disease. To empower arthritis patients, Dr Badshah, founding member of the Middle East Arthritis Foundation (MEAF), has written The Wellness Guide to Arthritis. This book guides readers through the different forms, symptoms to look out for, up-to-date information on new treatment methods, approaches to coping with pain, everyday tips to manage the side effects, as well as coping strategies from real-life arthritis warriors.
- The MEAF is holding a six-day webinar from October 10-15, 2021, featuring health experts from across the region offering tips and advice to get the right treatment, care, and support as well as to make informed choices with regards to their medication, diet and nutrition.