6 Myths About Joint Pain and Arthritis

Learn the facts about arthritis

older woman with shoulder pain

Osteoarthritis (OA), one of the most common forms of arthritis, results from wear and tear of the cartilage that cushions the joints, typically after an injury or with advancing age. More than 27 million Americans have OA.

Also called degenerative joint disease, OA usually develops over years, and symptoms include pain, stiffness, tenderness, a limited range of motion and may cause a grating sensation during movement. The pain usually is worse after activity and ranges in severity from person to person.

Risks of developing arthritis

Scientists aren’t sure about the causes of most types of arthritis or why some people develop it and others do not. Researchers are studying three major factors to determine what role they play in the development of certain types of arthritis:

  • Genetics
  • Lifetime events
  • Obesity

Risk factors for arthritis include:

Advertising Policy
  • Age – The risk of developing arthritis, especially osteoarthritis, increases with age.
  • Gender – In general, arthritis occurs more frequently in women than in men.
  • Weight – Being overweight puts extra stress on weight-bearing joints, increasing wear and tear, and the risk of arthritis.
  • Work factors – Some jobs that require repetitive movements or heavy lifting can cause stress in the joints and/or cause an injury, which can lead to arthritis.

Myths and facts

M. Elaine Husni, MD, MPH, Vice Chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Treatment Center at the Orthopaedic & Rheumatologic Institute, says there’s a lot of misinformation about OA pain and treatment. Here are some common misconceptions:

Myth 1 – All joint pain is arthritis.
Fact: Other conditions, such as tendonitis, bursitis or other soft-tissue injuries also cause joint pain. Evaluation by a rheumatologist will lead to the right diagnosis and treatment.

Myth 2 – Rain and damp weather worsen arthritis.
Fact: Although many believe that a twinge in the knee or knuckle can predict rain, there’s no scientific evidence that dampness or humidity intensifies arthritis symptoms.

Myth 3 – Take it easy if your arthritis acts up.
Fact: Regular, sensible exercise actually may help your arthritis, although arthritic joints sometimes need a short period of rest followed by a gradual return to activity. It’s important to maintain your strength and range of motion in your joints. Your doctor can guide you and suggest exercise that’s gentler on the joints.

Advertising Policy

Myth 4 – Rum-soaked raisins, grapefruit, and eggplant or other “nightshade” vegetables are dietary cures for arthritis.
Fact: A change in diet has no effect on arthritis. Arthritis has no cure, but medications and lifestyle changes can effectively manage symptoms and permit normal activity.

Myth 5 – Ice is less helpful than heat for sore joints.
Fact: Both cold and heat are useful for arthritis. Applying ice at night can ease joint inflammation arising from daily activities. Applying heat in the morning can relax the muscles that move stiff joints.

Myth 6 – Supplements like glucosamine benefit everyone with arthritis.
Fact: Glucosamine has been shown to benefit only a subset of people with osteoarthritis, possibly by stimulating the regrowth of worn-out cartilage. We advise people to take glucosamine with chondroitin for three months to see if it makes any difference. If so, continue using it; if not, don’t waste your money and look for other options.

Individualized treatment

A diagnosis of arthritis doesn’t mean the end of an active lifestyle. In treating OA, the goal is to help patients learn to manage all aspects of pain and to increase their joint mobility and strength. Dr. Husni recommends that patients with OA collaborate with their physicians to find what works best for them.

Advertising Policy
Advertising Policy
Advertising Policy
  • http://www.facebook.com/ned.sweeney Ned Sweeney

    Thanks for the supplement advice. I always look at such claim with a suspicious eye. Question – is the advice for joints applicable for the spine and the discs?

  • Wendi

    I’m 39 y/o and recently diagnosed with RA. I was just prescribed Plaquenil a week ago. I’d like to learn more about this disease, medications, etc.

    • JoAnn Smith

      You have to have a visual field done by the Eye Doc every 6 months while on Plaquinil. Very important!!!!

      • Donna

        JoAnn is correct. I take it and my eye doctor checks my eyes every 6 months. So far so good. It has helped me. Hope it helps you.

  • Churchlady3

    I find Myth 4 is not “true” I have Reactive Genetic Arthritis ….and changing the diet makes a world of difference!!! No processed foods, especially no sugar, no beef, no hormone collecting foods. If eating any animal product….go Organic! I eat lots of antioxidant foods….blueberries,berries, kale,parsley….veggies especially green ones, fruit….go natural and drink lots of water! I am on minimal drugs now ….one ….compared to five ( including Humira, methotrexate,, prednisone )….
    The most important is my quality of Life….far less minimal episodes of pain ( and in my work I climb scaffold etc)! I am able to function and be productive!
    Diet does make a difference !

    • M. Kooh,M.D.

      No evidence for that. Reactive arthritis syndromes, like Reiter’s, may have an hectic unpredictable course with relapses and remissions over years. Maybe due to the same nature of the disease, the effect of those medications you already have taken, placebo effect or a little of both. I’m not saying that you are wrong and that diet don’t affect the course of the disease, I’m only saying that still today, there is no evidence.

      • Cinderella 0851

        I think that the comments from people who have the disease and have gotten relief by changing their diet is evidence enough. Changing my diet to raw foods has worked for me also. Food sensitivities are definitely a culprit that cause joint pain.

      • Bj Grace

        I agree with churchlady3. SHE KNOWS WHAT SHE IS TALKING ABOUT.

    • http://www.facebook.com/123Anonymous123 Cyftxdhrxhfjxgghc Bijommoiuvyf

      From experience, I strongly agree that a healthy diet DOES help in dealing w/ arthr

      • ED Culleoka

        Absolutely! A nin-unflatory diet has worked wonders for me in controlling arthtitic pain. No sugars, simple starches, or dairy products. Eat a lof vegetables, especially antioxidants,erc. Also control diet to having BMI of 26 or less. No sodas or adtificial sweeteners. Add daily exercise. A cure ? No but I have 90 per cent less pain and I am fully functional and taking relatively little Nsaids. Three years ago, doctors wanted to replace both hips and one knee, saying that IHAD “CYST IN HIPS DUE TO ARTHRITIS AND WOULD NEVER BE BETTER.” I listened to my family doctor who said “try diet and exercise and see if you improve before having surgery. He ws right!!!!!

        • Cyftxdhrxhfjxgghc Bijommoiuvyf

          That’s good that you were able to avoid surgery. I can tell you that injury related arthritis can be painful if you go to long without whole milk. Whole milk is my painkiller of choice, because it really does ease the pain. :) also staying within your limits and not trying to push that joint will help minimize problems. I found that a power chair is especially handy and helping me stay within my knee’s limits so I don’t have it unlock and cause a nasty spill, which could also result in another knee injury. I’m currently classified as permanently handicapped due to that specific problem. I can feel swelling when it brews in my knee. I know right plan to get off my feet and rest my knee. Putting ice on the affected area really helps. I know that my condition is permanent, but I could make the best of it by staying within my limits. I learned almost the hard way not to push my knee. I did this one too many times when I had a third unlock that almost resulted in my knee going the wrong way. It was scary, and I was all alone and away from my phone. Right by and I knew it was time to see the doctor

    • Barbara

      I have also found that dietary changes affect the pain and inflammation of the AO in my knees. I recently limited certain foods (wheat and milk) and the inflammation is minimal and endurance much greater.

    • Suzanne

      Diet can help with the inflammation but not arthritis itself

  • http://www.facebook.com/123Anonymous123 Cyftxdhrxhfjxgghc Bijommoiuvyf

    I KNEW there MUST b a bouncer 2 evict arthr

  • http://www.facebook.com/123Anonymous123 Cyftxdhrxhfjxgghc Bijommoiuvyf

    Im taking my supplements

    • Joy McQueen

      I am on Enbreal

  • Liz

    Dealing with ra for 20 years,it definitely is rough at times. Been on the same mess for the last 10 years…been lucky in some regards but just glad for family, faith and friends.

  • Jeanine Handley

    I used a combination of physical therapy and chiropractic treatments to help my OA. it has made such a difference, I’m off all prescription meds, taking Alive when needed. I was able to increase my activities and range of motion. Able to avoid surgery. Yoga has also been a great help

  • http://www.facebook.com/jltarbe ‘Jamie Tarbet Miller

    It may may be considered a myth but when it is going to rain or raining it kills me…I have more pain and inflammation during these times…I have degenerative joint disease and have had a hip replacement…there is very little on the market either OC or prescription that works. So I deal with it.

    • juliedo

      I have had the same & found taking OPC-3, an all natural antioxidant daily helps dramatically…even on those days when the barometric pressure changes & rain are a factor. I get mine at http://WWW.bestopc. Com

    • Kimberly Kincaid

      I agree, Jamie. It’s been a rainy summer here in Ohio, and I’ve had almost constant OA pain. Some flares in new places, too. On a nice, sunny, non-humid day, I feel pretty good.

    • Becky McCrary

      I also agree with you. I have OA and I definitely know when it is going to rain. In fact, I know when rain is in the forecast prior to watching weather cha.

    • VegasLiz

      I think it has to do with the barometric pressure changing, especially when it is a quick change. http://www.ehow.com/about_5410462_effects-barometric-pressure-humans.html

      • Lynn Bauer

        I have fibro and barometric changes starts a flare up-live in Fl-one of the worst places to live with this condition-

      • Helga Stintzcum

        yes, barometric pressure changes cause arthritis to flare up.

    • Caroli

      Same here about the rain I can tell up to the minute when it going even when they are not calling for rain.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.raphael.10 Scott Raphael

    Their are a number of studies that clearly establish that a plant based lifestyle as well as omitting dairy will in fact reduce joint pain considerably

  • Victoria Cripps

    My doctor told me “There’s nothing more that I can do for you ” …. Now what … She didn’t do anything but take X-rays …

  • Allison Lansberry

    Diet does effect arthritis. Even my Rheumatologist told me to avoid deli meats, pork & organ meats. Watching salt also.

  • Janet

    I feel when I have over used my waist and leg muscles for daily work and walking my OA worsens. Attempting to relax the muscles greatly lessens the joint grinding. Traveling down stairs I have taken the decision to go down backwards. Especially in the morning! In doing this I find it tricks my mind agony to stop and the joints warm up quicker. :-)

  • Scott Raphael

    Fact… Diet DOES reverse arthritis

  • Rosemary

    When the barometric pressure drops (preceding) storms- there is DEFINITELY A CHANGE IN JOINT PAIN- observed in myself living in MN & others here plus noticeable in some pets as well! NOT a MYTH!!!

  • Gregooch

    An anti inflamatory diet works wonders in fighting the aches and pains of Osteo arthritis. A simple sweet potato a day will melt most if not all of the pain away without the side effects of popping pills.

  • Elizabeth Jones

    Weather related too me is not a myth. Because it is too comment. It not in the mind it is true,don’t knock it unless you have experience it.
    It is the dampness that irritate the bones.

    • Becky McCrary

      I agree.I suffer with OA and my body aches much more when moisture is in the air.This is no myth!

  • marian burroughs

    Interesting I have OA I go to the Chiropractic for mine 3 days a week I dont take shots no ibuprofen I exercise daily walking stretching at times very painful. Idiagree about foods I changed my diet and loosing weight. I drink plenty of green tea nuts less alcohol and plenty of leafy vegetables. I eat plently of fish. I am 100% better then I was last year.i drink lots of water cut off most sugars and fried foods.And less stress in life is helpful also. Postive thinking makes a difference also. I didnt I didnt want pain medications which can affecte your kidneys, later on in life. My chiropractor was not happy with this he was pushing needles and pills, and I refused I haven seen him in 9 mths this is a good thing for me anyway.

  • scbarb69

    What about osteoporosis? What do I do?

  • Diana Harlan Wells

    Well, I will tell my knees, shoulders, hands, feet, and hips the next time it rains, “You did not predict the weather, it is all in your human’s head.”

  • Diana Harlan Wells

    Oh, and I will not move to a state with warm dry air after all. It will not help. I will stay in the cold north where every winter I suffer horribly with my “weather non-predictors”

  • Susan Hollenbach

    What about ads disease. What treatment helps that. Sueh51

  • Beth Kaiser

    I have OA, RA, & Gout!!! The food is critical here!!! Trust me, a bit of meat with internal organs, etc… It’s the recipe for horrible pain & my toes get so bad, no shoes, no walking, a soft blanket causes excruciating discomfort!!! You are what you Eat!!! Be very careful if this tri- fecta of pain nips at you!!! Fix your food, your excerise routine, & be really good to you!!! I have a many more issues… This pain changes you!!!

  • Jackie

    How about fibromyalgia and chronic pain. What treatments are there? Nothing seems to help.

    • Rebecca Jean

      So many Facebook pages about fibromyalgia very informative….in the search box just put fibromyalgia. I have had it 10 years now and the pain is unbearable most timesI had to retire at the age of 58

  • roberto

    A few years ago I started getting joint pains where I could not lift my arms. My doctor thought I had lupus and couldnt find what was wrong. I tried anti inflammatory pills and nothing worked. This went on for more than a year. I listened in NPR which used to run a program about pharmaceuticals and when talking about joint pain they said that immersing white grapes in gin and eating a few/day did great things for many listeners..that there was no evidence that it worked but enough listeners had said it did that they at least would mention it. I started taking them and it was magic. In around two weeks the pain was completely gone. I don’t know if it will work for anyone w joint pain, but I cant say enough about it. White grapes get treated w sulfur and gin has juniper berries which are high in antioxidants and have antimicrobial and antifungal properties. I have been pain free for over three years now.

  • olake

    I don’t need scientific proof that weather increases arthritis pain. My joints give me all the proof I need!

  • Susan Elvick

    well I feel bad weather coming two to three days before it arrives and when it arrives the pain subsides.

  • RL

    I’m a healthcare provider and I wholeheartedly disagree with myth number 4! Studies have shown repeatedly that gluten and some grains can contribute to arthritis!! Stopping these foods have been shown to reverse the effects! I’ve seen it in my patients (and in myself!). I also agree with many of the other respondents that avoiding processed foods will also reverse many arthritis symptoms, especially the GMO’s. Please don’t discount those facts.

  • Renee

    I’m stunned by the certainy expressed with myths 2 and 4. I’ve had this disease for 20yrs, from age 21, and can assure you that I (and others I know with this) have changes from diet and weather! For me, too much dairy causes a flare. And my pain is much increased before it rains. I’ll know it’s coming even when forecast says it’s not. And I get relief once the rain starts.

    Terrible article. Surprised to see CC post it.

  • Calhoun Karen

    Contrary to weather not playing a factor I can tell you when the barometric pressure changes I can feel it in my joints . But it only does it when it rains . It doesn’t when it snows. Probably because it is less damp. Odd ! Also if the air conditioner or heat is set low I feel it in my knees. It needs to maintain a constant temperature . Damp buildings aggervate the OS.

  • marcia andrews

    i am a nurse 53 years so my joints and bones ache some mornings it pains so badly i wince when i step out of bed all the lifting i have done over the years has let me with an aching body but i am still very active however i have found that the cold weather aggravates my arthritis i swim everyday i can in my pool in the summer, since i do live in Pennsylvania and we are having a brutal winter this year -30 at night @ times….

  • Expecting More

    Several of these are subpar explanations at best and are misleading at worst.

    #2 They could have also said, “There is no scientific evidence that dampness or humidity does NOT intensify arthritis pain.” Meaning the science doesn’t say either way, so why point out one side of the statement as “fact” and the other as “myth”

    #4 ALL arthritis has an inflammatory component to the disease process. An inflammatory diet worsens inflammation and an anti-inflammatory diet decreases your inflammation. Lots of arthritis symptoms can be immune system driven. If you are autoimmune, foods that are immune neutral or limiting affect your symptoms differently than foods that aggravate your immune symptoms.

    #6 Here is what I know about GC: The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy analyzed thirty glucosamine-chondroitin products and found at least 50 percent did not meet label claims. Meaning half or more of those products didn’t have the levels of GC in them that they said, some had NONE. So if you want to know if glucosamine chondroitin will benefit you, I’d suggest getting one that comes from a company that has been 3rd party tested for purity and potency. Then put it to the 3 month test they suggest.

  • Sandra Deaner-Dockstader

    I have OA , I handle it with Arthritis Tylenol and Plaquenil. Not a lot relief. I believe or know I have a Roto Cuff tear in my left shouldet, I don’t want surgury, is there any alternative treatment??

  • Senior lady

    Weather is not a myth. Mine flares up two days before it rains and also is worse in humid weather. Several years ago I read that somewhere in Germany, an arthritic patient foretells the weather on a TV station there and us more accurate than their regular weather person. My rheumatologist also has arthritis and he agrees with me. I’ve found if you can find warm water aerobics, it really helps.