It’s probably safe to say that many, if not most people, subscribe to at least one outdated, disproven belief about osteoarthritis, even if they have been diagnosed with it.
The most common form of arthritis, affecting an estimated one in seven Canadians, osteoarthritis (OA) eats away at the tough, slippery cartilage that help keep the bones in a joint like the knee moving smoothly, rather than rubbing against one another. But the joint pain and stiffness that come with OA comes on very early in this destructive process.
Some common misconceptions include the idea that osteoarthritis is simply ‘wear and tear’. It’s not. It involves a process that throws off the normal cycle of breakdown and rebuilding in the cartilage.
And while moving may hurt, that doesn’t equate to damage. In fact, exercise actually nourishes cartilage and helps keep it from becoming brittle. Over time, regular exercise also reduces pain, and eases the load on the joint by strengthening the muscles that support it. In fact, exercise is the most effective treatment that we currently have for treating OA.
But learning how to manage OA pain so that you can continue to stay physically active takes time, some trial and error, and may be easier if you get some expert guidance.
My heartfelt thanks to the interviewees who so kindly shared their time, stories and expertise:
- Dr. Tom Appleton, Site Chief of Rheumatology at St. Joseph’s Health Care London, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Physiology and Pharmacology at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry in London, Ont.
- Dr. Gillian Currie, Associate Director of Health Economics with Dr. Deborah Marshall’s research team, and and Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Paediatrics and Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary.
- Jenny Hauser, of London, Ont.
- Susan Larkin, a volunteer with The Arthritis Society in Mississauga, Ont.
- Dr. Janet Pope, a rheumatologist at St. Joseph’s Health Care London, and a Professor of Medicine at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry in London, Ont.
- Marlee Shloush, a physiotherapist with The Arthritis Society in Toronto.
- Dr. Naomi Steenhof, an Assistant Professor (teaching stream) in the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto, and a pharmacotherapy specialist at the University Health Network.
These organizations may be able to connect you with free or low-cost services in your area:
- The Arthritis Line (The Arthritis Society) 1-800-321-1433, press 2 or email@example.com
- Osteoarthritis Service Integration System (Vancouver Coastal Health)
You can also find helpful information at: