May is a busy month for health observances but here at Superior Foot & Ankle Center, there’s one more that we can’t let pass by National Arthritis Awareness Month. Why are we so concerned about sharing information about this condition with our patients? With 33 joints in each of your feet, the effects of joint pain, swelling, inflammation and decreased range of motion can spell extreme debilitation if they attack your feet. Many people have some outdated ideas about arthritis, so we’d like to take this opportunity to expose some common myths:
Myth: Arthritis is a joint disease.
Fact: Actually, arthritis is a description of an entire category of more than 100 joint diseases. Besides the two best-known kinds—osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis–many diseases you may be familiar with are considered forms of arthritis. These include chronic fatigue syndrome, gout, Lupus, Lyme disease and fibromyalgia.
Myth: Arthritis is an old person disease.
Fact: Approximately 300,000 babies, children and teens have arthritis. Although scientists are still trying to find out definitive causes of juvenile arthritis it’s thought that genetics and autoimmune diseases play a significant role.
Myth: Exercise is too painful if you have osteoarthritis.
Fact: Although patients with arthritis may worry that exercise will cause more harm to joints, it is the most effective non-drug treatment for improving movement and reducing pain caused by osteoarthritis. There are three types of exercise that are particularly beneficial: aerobic or endurance, flexibility and strengthening. Together these can greatly improve your range of motion and ability to move.
Myth: There’s no correlation between arthritis and the weather.
Fact: Although researchers have been skeptical in the past about the weather/pain connection, studies have confirmed that certain atmospheric changes do increase arthritis pain. Drops in barometric pressure and temperature cause greater joint discomfort. One study at Tufts University found that every 10-degree drop in temperature corresponded with an incremental increase in pain.
Myth: Arthritis is not a diet-related condition.
Fact: There are foods that cause an inflammatory response in the body and other foods that decrease inflammation. In addition, maintaining a healthy weight reduces the strain on the joints, particularly those in your feet and ankles.
To learn more about your risk for arthritis and the steps you can take to prevent it talk to our podiatrists, Dr. Victoria Foley or Dr. Constance Omelas at your next appointment. And if you start to experience any pain, swelling or joint discomfort, contact our Long Beach office as soon as possible by calling: (562) 420-9800.