The myths of arthritis and new ways to combat the disease

September is Arthritis Awareness Month – a perfect opportunity to visit some common myths of arthritis and learn more about the latest advancement in research to eradicate the disease.

Myth #1: People with arthritis should avoid exercising.

Dr. Michael Hunt, assistant professor at the Department of Physical Therapy at UBC and researcher at VCH Research Institute says, “It cannot be farther from the truth, exercise is a valuable tool in the fight against arthritis. In fact, a growing body of research indicates that the benefits of exercise on pain and function are as good as or better than pharmaceuticals, and are not associated with as many risks or side effects.”

Myth #2: Arthritis is purely age related.

This is false. “Arthritis is a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that can affect people of all ages, races and genders,” says Dr. David Wilson, professor at the Department of Orthopaedics at UBC and researcher at VCH Research Institute.

Both researchers at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility agree that prevention and early diagnosis are critical to the outcome of the disease. Although surgery and pharmaceuticals remain as common methods of treatment to arthritis, recent research has shifted heavily to prevention. “For example, osteoarthritis which is the most common type of arthritis often develops from a previous joint injury or an undetected joint deformity,” says Dr. Wilson. “Researchers are working toward identifying and treating these specific injuries and diseases so that osteoarthritis doesn't develop, or at least develops later in life.”

Further, Dr. Hunt added that researchers are also looking into applying orthotics and knee braces on patients to reduce pressure on joints, as well as change the way people walk.

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