If you have rheumatoid arthritis or know someone who does, it’s important to learn as much as possible about the disease, including the myths. Debunking rheumatoid arthritis myths will help you learn more about your disease and help others when you educate them. Let’s take a look at the most common myths associated with rheumatoid arthritis:
Myth #1: You can only get rheumatoid arthritis if you are old.
Don’t get me wrong, plenty of people of older age have rheumatoid arthritis, but the disease usually starts in middle aged people. People most often get diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis during their early fifties, however, rheumatoid arthritis can be diagnosed after the age of 60, and even in older teens or people in their twenties.
Myth #2: All arthritis is the same arthritis.
Many people think that rheumatoid arthritis is similar or the same as osteoarthritis, when in fact they are completely different. Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and only affects about 1% of adult Americans. Whereas osteoarthritis only affects your joints, rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease that can affect not only your joints, but your heart, lungs, eyes and blood vessels as well. The two diseases are very different from each other and it’s important to understand that.
Myth #3: You did something wrong to cause rheumatoid arthritis.
Since rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that your body’s own defense system is not properly functioning the way it should, there’s nothing you did to cause the disease and there is no way you could have prevented it. With autoimmune diseases, your immune system mistakenly attacks your own joints and other parts of your body instead of foreign invaders. Researchers are still looking for answers to why some people get autoimmune diseases and others don’t.
Myth #4: If rheumatoid arthritis runs in your family, you’ll get it too.
Rheumatoid arthritis can run in families, that’s true, but that doesn’t automatically set you up with the autoimmune disease. You can inherit the genes for the rheumatoid arthritis, but never get it. We still don’t know the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis, but researchers believe it’s a combination of genes and events in your life that trigger the genes to become active.
Myth #5: If you have rheumatoid arthritis, it’s inevitable that you will become disabled.
Just because you are living with rheumatoid arthritis, it doesn’t mean you will become disabled with no hope of doing normal things. There are new medications today, called biologics, that have changed the outlook for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, doctors have learned that treating rheumatoid arthritis at an early stage will help in preventing disability down the road.
Myth #6: If you don’t show symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, then you are doing well with the disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis is more than sore and achy joints, it also causes fatigue. In fact, the fatigue from rheumatoid arthritis can be worse than the pain you experience. It’s important to understand that just because you are not showing signs of pain and discomfort does not indicate that you are doing well.
Myth #7: The best thing for rheumatoid arthritis is resting.
You’re sore and achy, and exercise may be the last thing you want to do and it may sound like an odd recommendation, but it actually relieves these symptoms. Regular exercise will help with easing pain and stiffness, will improve your motion and flexibility, and boost your energy level. Rest does play a part, if your joints are actively swollen then rest may be best. Make sure to consult with your doctor to help find the best level and type of exercise for you.
Myth #8: There’s not a whole lot you can do if you have rheumatoid arthritis.
There is a lot that can be done to help you manage your rheumatoid arthritis. The first step is learning as much as you can about the disease. Diet and exercise play a pivotal role in helping you manage the disease. It’s also crucial to recognize and deal with the stress that rheumatoid arthritis causes.
Whether you have rheumatoid arthritis yourself or you know someone who does, it’s important to be educated on rheumatoid arthritis. The more you know, the more you can help yourself to manage rheumatoid arthritis.
Advanced Clinical Care has ongoing rheumatoid arthritis clinical trials that use biologics to treat RA. Fill out our form to be contacted about our clinical trials for rheumatoid arthritis or give us a call at 508-755-0201.