Common myths surrounding rheumatoid arthritis

There are some massive misconceptions about rheumatoid arthritis that need to be understood. Arthritis is common but rheumatoid arthritis is a whole other story. The experts still have a lot to learn about this disease but we do too.

First, let’s explain rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is an autoimmune disease where inflammation (pain, swelling and heat) affect the joints – the hands, feet and knees are the most affected areas. Joint stiffness is common, especially in the morning after not being used while sleeping, according to Better Heath Channel. There is no cure but there are effective ways to help manage it.


Here are 8 common myths surrounding rheumatoid arthritis (RA):

1. People with rheumatoid arthritis live in nursing homes and end up in wheelchairs

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It is a progressive disease so it can greatly impact peoples lives and cause disability, however, RA takes a different course in people. Many still manage to live independently. There is increasing available information and treatment for people living with RA, which is helping them cope.


2. You can only get rheumatoid arthritis if you’re old

Most people develop RA between the ages of 35 and 65. Anyone can get RA, even teenagers, it is just less common.


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3. Rheumatoid arthritis is just like ‘regular arthritis’

“Regular arthritis” is osteoarthritis, which is caused by normal use on ageing joints or injury. Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease in middle age to older people, where as rheumatoid arthritis affects about 1% of the population worldwide. RA is a chronic, progressive autoimmune disorder. The body makes antibodies that attack its own tissues, which affects joints and other body parts. Flare-ups of these attacks can occur periodically or can be continuous. To add to the confusion, some people with RA also have osteoarthritis.


4. Rheumatoid arthritis isn’t serious

Absolutely false. If RA is not treated properly it can threaten your health and independence. It is essential to seek medical attention early on to prevent severe joint damage. As well, RA increases your risk of other conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases and infections.

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5. Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis can be toxic, so you should wait till the disease progresses before treatment

No!! As the previous myth, “rheumatoid arthritis isn’t serious” explains, it is so important to get treatment and medical help immediately. Early prevention can help prevent increased join damage and disability and in sometimes cases delay RA from developing. Yes, medications for RA treatment can have side effects but they will not be worse than the side effects of untreated RA.


6. You can’t work with rheumatoid arthritis

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People with RA will need to change their work processes but you can still work. As previously mentioned, there is growing treatment and research to help people with RA so their standards of work and life are changing and improving too. Employment ability should not drastically change for people with RA.


7. Stiff joints from rheumatoid arthritis need to rest all day

People with RA need to stretch and keep exercising. Physical activity is important, even though when joints are painful and stiff, it’s natural to want to not move. It’s a vicious cycle if you do not keep moving – use it or lose it.


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8. People with rheumatoid arthritis get cancer

It’s not clear why but people with RA are more likely to get lymphoma (blood cancer) but the overall risk is low for other types. Even with this increased risk, there is still only a small amount of people with RA who get lymphoma too.


Tell us, did you know this information about rheumatoid arthritis? Do you know someone who suffers from this disease?