8 Myths About Arthritis

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Myth: I Can Cure Arthritis With Anti-Inflammatory Spices

Although ginger, turmeric and other spices do have anti-inflammatory properties—and eating them certainly can't hurt—there's little human-research data available to back them up as a treatment for chronic inflammation, says Sandon.

As of now, there's no accepted standard for how much of these ingredients are needed in order to provide any real benefit to the arthritic joints. So if you want pain relief in a pinch, you might be better off just taking ibuprofen, says Sandon. "Your inflammation isn't going to just go away because you had curry for dinner."

Myth: Glucosamine Supplements Will Rebuild My Joints

Glucosamine is a natural compound that's found in your joints and the cartilage around them, says Dr. Matteson. And although this supplement is widely available and helpful to some people, it doesn't do what most people think it does.

"Patients think taking it as a pill will rebuild joints," he says. But it doesn't. "Unless you inject it into the joint"—which can be done at your doctor's office—"there's no way of getting it into your joints," he says. "And it doesn't restore your joints, although some people say they get some pain relief from it in the short term."

Myth: Cracking My Knuckles Can Cause Arthritis

Here's the good news: There is no conclusive evidence that cracking knuckles and joints can cause arthritis later in life. Still, some experts caution you're better off not doing it anyway. Dr. Husni says that even if there isn't a direct tie, it's probably not wise to have that type of pop-causing movement done to your hands over and over again.

"At the very least, it's annoying," Dr. Matteson says. "And while it may accelerate arthritis damage in some people, it's not something that's really intensively studied."

Myth: I'm the Only One Who Suffers From Arthritis

One in 50 older Americans have had a knee replacement, says Dr. Matteson, and Americans spend more treating arthritis than they do cancer. Pretty astonishing, right?

"It is one of the most common conditions in the population," he says. "As you get older, almost everyone gets some form of arthritis. It's usually wear-and-tear arthritis, or osteoarthritis."

That means you're not alone—and are far from it. If you want to find strength in numbers, visit Arthritis.org to contact the Arthritis Foundation in your area for support-group recommendations.

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