Osteoarthritis Myths

by | Dec 20, 2022

Osteoarthritis Myths


At South Island Physiotherapy, we educate patients regarding Osteoarthritis every single day. Over the past 11 years two things have become clear: 1. Osteoarthritis scares the heck out of people and 2. It is often highly misunderstood and/or carelessly diagnosed. The following post is meant to dispel some of the most common Osteoarthritis (OA) myths and misconceptions we see around this complicated condition. If you’re looking for a physiotherapist that specializes in the management of OA – book here.


Myth #1: OA is a consequence of getting older


This is a particularly pernicious myth influenced by joint changes reflected in the findings of medical images (X-ray, MRI, CT scan, etc). Though the changes are real, they are often influenced by a combination of the aging process and lifestyle behaviours. Research has determined that there is not a strong relationship between these findings and OA symptoms. For example, some people have medical images revealing a lot of joint change, but they experience very few symptoms. This myth buster is a reminder that you aren’t your medical image. Ready to improve the health of your joints? Book with one of our Physiotherapists that specialize in the management of OA.


Myth #2: OA is the result of “wear and tear” on the joint(s)


This myth is so common that it’s found what appears to be a permanent home in our vernacular. We find that this myth results in people restricting their participation in the activities they love in order to avoid ‘wear and tear’. It’s important for everyone to know that OA is not caused by a joint ‘wearing out’. OA is an inflammatory disease that interferes with how the cartilage in your joint(s) repairs itself. OA is not inevitable and not everyone will develop it as they age. So go ahead, participate in the things you love. Make sure to do so progressively and consistently with the help of a Registered Physiotherapist.


Myth #3: Exercise will damage my joint(s) further


This myth is related to the idea that joints suffer ‘wear and tear’. When is comes to the notion that exercise will advance OA, it’s important to know that the opposite is true. Exercise and general movement are the best defence against OA. Exercise avoidance results in stiff, deconditioned joints. Engaging in progressive, consistent exercise keeps joints lubricated, mobile, and resilient. Be safe and find a Physiotherapist specialized in the management of OA.


Myth #4: Pain during exercise means I’m causing damage to my joint(s)


Ironically, this myth results in activity avoidance, deconditioning, and the progression of OA. Though the pain experience is complicated, we do know that it is independent from tissue health. This means that pain is not directly related to the structural changes of your joint. Pain is influenced by stress, sleep quality, dietary fluctuations, and a host of other variables independent from the structure of your joint. Experiencing joint related pain? Our Registered Physiotherapist’s can help you navigate pain and injury.


Myth #5: My OA is doomed to get worse


This myth results in people feeling defeated by their diagnosis of OA. There are plenty of positive, active things you can do to help with the pain associated with OA. Strength training, balance exercise, walking, and progressive exercise can stimulate tissue adaption. This can result in better lubricated, more mobile, and resilient joints. Interested in creating a more resilient joint? Find a Physiotherapist that specializes in the management of OA.


So there you have it – OA is a complicated, misunderstood disease that often limits and restricts the lives of those with a diagnosis. This blog post is meant to dispel some common Osteoarthritis myths so that you can move towards the things you love with a bit more assurance. South Island Physiotherapy is here to help those with OA navigate the process of creating healthier, more resilient joints.


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