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5 Facts and Fictions About Osteoarthritis

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

Myth. The idea that you can't exercise or be active once you've got OA is another arthritis myth that's overstayed its welcome.

You should be physically active, when you have arthritis, White tells WebMD. 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.

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 and pain.

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

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

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

The economic burden is also large, with estimated costs of over $127 billion dollars a year -- $47 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," says White. "We should make it unacceptable…it doesn't need to be."

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Reviewed on March 12, 2014

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