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MYTH: I should be worried about seeing osteoarthritis on my X-Ray or MRI reports.

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FACT:

Joints change over time just like the rest of your body. These joint changes are called osteoarthritis. They are poorly related to pain.

MYTH: Osteoarthritis is a sign of wear and tear.

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FACT:

Osteoarthritis should not be considered wear and tear. In fact, quite the opposite. Osteoarthritis is an indication of wear and REPAIR. Joints get bigger due to thicker bones. This is why visible joints with osteoarthritis such as fingers or knees get bigger with age!

MYTH: Osteoarthritis means that I will have to get a joint replacement.

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FACT:

If there is not enough room for a joint to move, a joint replacement may be helpful to restore motion. However, many people experience normal age-related osteoarthritis, including joints that are BONE-ON-BONE, without the need for joint replacement!

MYTH: It’s bad if my joint becomes inflamed or swollen in an area of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis means that I will have to get a joint replacement.

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FACT:

Joint swelling and inflammation is an indication that the body is actively doing some work in that area, which creates a chemical soup that is visible and squishy. While we might not need the body to be doing that additional work, it does not mean that we will experience harm or pain from this process.

Think about your joints as construction sites during these times; there’s lots of activity going on when there is active construction. Don’t completely rest it, but take it easy until the construction site clears up!

MYTH: My joint hurts because of the osteoarthritis in it.

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FACT:

Joint pain and changes of the joint osteoarthritis are not closely related. People with significant changes of the joint can have no pain (including bone-on-bone!), whereas people with mild changes can have severe pain. Additionally, joint replacements are not a guarantee of pain improvement. In fact, over 40% of people who have joint replacements continue to have joint pain, sometimes even worsening pain, after their joint is replaced.

Pain is complex; find a movement healthcare provider who is well educated in pain to help you with your joint pain! (Tip: To find one, show them this list of myths and facts, they should understand the facts on this page well!)

MYTH: Running and other high-impact exercises are harmful to osteoarthritis.

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FACT:

Running has been shown to both improve joint osteoarthritis and reduce pain. As an added bonus, it helps strengthen your spine!

MYTH: I should not exercise a joint with osteoarthritis.

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FACT:

Exercise helps to reduce the progression of joint-space loss with osteoarthritis! It even helps with pain, as long as you work WITH the pain, rather than push through it. Be sure to have a good exercise plan developed by a movement recovery professional to maximize your success and help you reduce pain further!


Scientific Evidence

Halilaj, Eni, et al. “Modeling and predicting osteoarthritis progression: data from the osteoarthritis initiative.” Osteoarthritis and cartilage 26.12 (2018): 1643-1650.

Perrot, Serge. “Osteoarthritis pain.” Best practice & research Clinical rheumatology 29.1 (2015): 90-97.

Brinjikji, W., et al. “Systematic literature review of imaging features of spinal degeneration in asymptomatic populations.” American Journal of Neuroradiology 36.4 (2015): 811-816.

Bedson, John, and Peter R. Croft. “The discordance between clinical and radiographic knee osteoarthritis: a systematic search and summary of the literature.” BMC musculoskeletal disorders 9.1 (2008): 116.

Brinjikji, W., et al. “Systematic literature review of imaging features of spinal degeneration in asymptomatic populations.” American Journal of Neuroradiology 36.4 (2015): 811-816.

Williams, Paul T. “Effects of running and walking on osteoarthritis and hip replacement risk.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 45.7 (2013): 1292.

Hyldahl, Robert D., et al. “Running decreases knee intra-articular cytokine and cartilage oligomeric matrix concentrations: a pilot study.” European journal of applied physiology 116.11-12 (2016): 2305-2314.

Lo, Grace H., et al. “Running does not increase symptoms or structural progression in people with knee osteoarthritis: data from the osteoarthritis initiative.” Clinical rheumatology (2018): 1-8.

Belavý, Daniel L., et al. “Running exercise strengthens the intervertebral disc.” Scientific reports 7 (2017): 45975.

Ding, Changhai, et al. “Knee cartilage defects: association with early radiographic osteoarthritis, decreased cartilage volume, increased joint surface area and type II collagen breakdown.” Osteoarthritis and cartilage 13.3 (2005): 198-205.

Hunter, David J., et al. “Structural correlates of pain in joints with osteoarthritis.” Osteoarthritis and cartilage 21.9 (2013): 1170-1178.

Wylde, Vikki, et al. “Persistent pain after joint replacement: prevalence, sensory qualities, and postoperative determinants.” PAIN® 152.3 (2011): 566-572.

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