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Osteoarthritis Health Center

5 Facts and Fictions About Osteoarthritis

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Arthritis Myth or Fact: You can't be physically active when you have arthritis.

Myth. You can't or shouldn't exercise once you've got OA.

Fact. You should be physically active when you have arthritis, White says. Not only will appropriate activities decrease your OA pain, they can improve range of motion, function, and reduce disability. A bonus: Regular activity helps you achieve, and then maintain, a healthy weight.

The key to getting all of these exercise benefits -- and protecting your joints -- is to keep activities low-impact. So skip the joint-pounding pain of a marathon, and opt instead for biking, walking, and aquatic activities, White suggests. And remember to first consult your doctor before starting any arthritis fitness program.

Arthritis Myth or Fact: Losing as little as 5 pounds can make a big difference to OA symptoms.

Myth. Unless you lose a lot of weight, your OA symptoms won't improve. 

Fact. For every pound you gain, you add 2-3 pounds of pressure across your knees, White says. So even a small weight loss can produce drastic changes, reducing osteoarthritis symptoms andpain.

"If people just lost a little weight -- just 5 or 10 pounds -- it'll make a big difference to the progression of the disease," White says.

Arthritis Myth or Fact: Arthritis: It's not a serious health problem.

Myth. Arthritis is not a serious health problem.

Fact. Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States, affecting about one in every five U.S. adults -- and their families.

The economic burden is also large, with estimated costs of more than $188 billion a year -- $108 billion in lost wages, and $80 billion in medical care.

Fortunately, you can make sure you're not an arthritis statistic. You can start today by eating right, exercising, and taking care of your body.

"People sort of accept arthritis," White says. "We should make it unacceptable. ... It doesn't need to be."

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Reviewed on March 12, 2014

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