When it comes to joint health, what you may be told as “fact” may actually be fiction – and can do way more harm than good.
Over and over, I see some of the most popular myths about joint health be disproven with the work I do with my clients at the Center for Better Bones. Here are the top 5 common myths about joint issues so that you can avoid making common mistakes:
Myth #1: Joint pain naturally happens as we age
While it’s tempting to rationalize nagging joint pain as something that just happens to everyone as they get older, this isn’t true. Many healthy people around the world age well without experiencing degeneration of their joints. Those with chronic inflammation, low anti-oxidant status, excess acidity and toxic overload are more prone to aging joint woes – but you can do something about these factors.
Myth #2: Foods we eat don’t affect joint pain
I commonly see women whose joint pain is caused by a reaction from eating wheat and other gluten products as well as from beef, dairy, soy or other foods. Even arthritis specialists recognize the existence of “reactive arthritis.”
Myth #3: Excess weight is a major cause of joint pain
While it’s true that our joints bear the burden of our weight, our weight alone is rarely to blame for joint discomfort. Our joints are designed to support body weight. It’s only when they become inflamed and unable to adequately repair themselves do we end up with joint pain.
Myth #4: Joints get damaged as we use them and exercise can aggravate this damage
What we commonly think of as joint “wear and tear” is really “cumulative repair deficit” —when we don’t support our body enough to repair the natural damage caused by using them. We can benefit from exercise through increased circulation and delivery of nutrients to the joint tissues to promote tissue health and renewal. Gentle full range-of-motion exercises actually stimulate and help heal the joints, especially when used with nutritional joint support.
Myth #5: The drugs and medications used to ease joint pain are safe to use without side effects
It may be easy to pop an ibuprofen or a naproxen, but these anti-inflammatory painkillers aren’t without their side effects. High dose, long-term use of these medications can lead to damage to various organs including the heart, stomach and kidneys and also increase the risk of stroke. The even stronger steroid medications, such as prednisone, have system-wide negative effects, not the least of which is osteoporosis. An estimated 20 percent of all osteoporosis in this country is due to steroid use.
Now more than ever, we’re finding how nutritional, lifestyle, and environmental factors provide lifelong bone health. Remember, by taking heart and taking action, each of us can use this knowledge to stay strong and naturally create better joint health.
I’m Dr. Susan Brown. I am a nutritionist, medical anthropologist, writer, and speaker. Get my free weekly newsletter here.