As with all autoimmune disorders, there are myths floating around about rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that make it difficult for people to understand what it really means to have this condition. Many of the myths about RA trivialize the condition, when it is a severe health problem that can shorten a life if not carefully managed.
Myth #1: Only old people get rheumatoid arthritis.
You don’t have to reach senior citizen status to get gray hair. The same goes for arthritis. While it is more likely for an older adult to develop rheumatoid arthritis, this autoimmune condition can begin around the age of 25. (Osteoarthritis is the joint disorder that develops with age due to simple wear and tear.) Bottom line: Arthritis is a big deal no matter what age you are.
Myth #2: You shouldn’t exercise if you have arthritis.
Sitting still is one of the worst things you can do for RA. Long periods of inactivity make it harder for the body to work. Low-impact exercises like walking, yoga, or tai chi can stabilize joints, strengthen and stretch muscles, and improve joint motion, all of which can help reduce pain.
Myth #3: Your diet has nothing to do with your autoimmune disease.
One of the biggest culprits behind autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis are food sensitivities, allergies, and problems with the digestive system. Eating healthy and eating foods that are right for your body’s unique needs can help relieve some RA symptoms. Sensitivities to certain foods could trigger an inflammatory response or exacerbate arthritis symptoms.
Myth #4: Rheumatoid arthritis is always debilitating.
Certainly, RA can put limitations on what a person is able to do. For many people, the condition is not constant. Other RA sufferers experience only flares, which is when the autoimmune condition worsens and brings with it the hallmark symptoms of joint swelling and pain.
Myth #5: RA only affects joints and bones.
Typically, the first symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are pain and swelling in the joints. However, advanced cases of RA can negatively affect other parts of your body. Inflammation can spread to the eyes, blood vessels, lungs, and heart, causing other health conditions to develop. Plus, the mental and emotional toll of living with a chronic autoimmune disorder can be difficult to overcome. RA is much more than just its own set of symptoms.
Myth #6: Medication is the only thing that can help my arthritis.
There is no fixed cure for rheumatoid arthritis. Many people must take medication to help themselves, but there are ways to supplement the treatment your doctor provides. With the right therapy and support, the progression of the disease can be slowed.
Holistic care can ease the symptoms of RA. Contact the holistic health specialists at Ann Arbor Holistic Health to find out how you can learn to live better even though you have rheumatoid arthritis.