Three Common Misconceptions About Arthritis

Arthritis is a common condition characterized by joint pain, yet there are several misconceptions surrounding the disease. Here are three prevalent myths about arthritis that need to be debunked.

1. Can cracking your knuckles lead to arthritis?

Contrary to popular belief, cracking your knuckles does not cause arthritis. When you crack your knuckles, the small blood vessels and nerve endings around the joints are stimulated, which can improve local circulation and help relieve pain caused by spasms and reduce inflammation. Additionally, knuckle-cracking does not cause joint enlargement, as this is actually due to bone growth resulting from joint damage.

2. Does a popping sound in the joint indicate arthritis?

Many people hear a popping sound in their knees when sitting down or standing up and worry that it might be a sign of arthritis. However, this noise is often caused by the vibration of gases within the joint cavity. The human joint cavity is filled with synovial fluid, which acts as a lubricant and cushion. When the joint moves, a distinct gap forms in the middle of the joint cavity. Gases from the surrounding area diffuse into this gap and, together with the liquid, produce a crisp popping sound. If a medical examination confirms that there is no joint pathology, then it is simply a case of “noisy knees” without any underlying condition.

3. Is there a link between cold weather and arthritis?

In fact, arthritis is not caused by the cold. Cold and damp weather does not cause or exacerbate osteoarthritis, but it can make the symptoms of arthritis more pronounced. The onset of arthritis can be due to various factors, including improper protection during physical activity. Older individuals, those who are obese, and people with sedentary lifestyles may also experience chronic knee pain. The increased perception of pain in cold weather could be because prostaglandins, which contribute to pain, accumulate in the knee joint at lower temperatures, making the pain more noticeable.

It is essential to dispel these myths about arthritis to better understand the condition and approach it with the right knowledge.

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Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis: Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Treatment for Longstanding RA with Deformities
For patients with advanced RA, the therapeutic goal is to alleviate symptoms, reduce pain, and preserve joint function. Even in cases of deformity, clinical efforts are directed towards rehabilitation exercises to maintain any residual joint functionality and prevent further deterioration.

Which Department to Visit for Suspected RA?
Individuals with suspected RA should seek medical attention from the department specializing in rheumatology and immunology.

Can Routine Blood Tests Detect RA?
Professor Shen emphasizes that routine blood tests cannot definitively diagnose RA. A comprehensive evaluation includes joint examination, routine blood tests, and specific diagnostic tests for RA, as well as imaging assessments like X-rays or MRI to assess joint damage.

Does a Positive Rheumatoid Factor Indicate RA?
A positive rheumatoid factor does not necessarily indicate RA, as it can also be associated with other conditions such as chronic hepatitis, cancer, Sj√∂gren’s syndrome, and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Diagnostic Criteria for RA
The diagnosis of RA is based on criteria including the number and location of affected joints, duration of symptoms, inflammatory markers, and the presence of autoantibodies.

Managing Joint Pain and Immobility Due to RA
Patients with RA should manage their weight and avoid exercise during acute pain episodes. Under medical supervision, medication use is advised until symptoms subside, after which low-impact exercises like brisk walking, Tai Chi, cycling, or swimming can help maintain muscle function.

Using Warm Water to Alleviate Morning Stiffness
While warm water immersion can relieve morning stiffness symptoms, it does not treat the underlying condition.

Can RA Be Cured by Surgery?
Surgery is not a primary treatment for RA. It may be considered only after evaluation by rheumatologists and orthopedic surgeons to determine eligibility.

Potential Hair Loss from RA Medications
Certain medications for RA may cause hair loss as a side effect. If this occurs, doctors may switch medications as needed.

Dietary Restrictions for RA Patients
There is no direct link between diet and RA; maintaining a balanced diet is generally advised.

Precautions for RA Patients
Individuals with RA should adhere to regular medication, follow-up appointments, appropriate exercise, and avoid triggers like injuries, cold exposure, and infections. A healthy lifestyle is crucial for managing the condition.

Natural Remedy for Arthritic Knees

As we age, joint issues become increasingly common. Many older individuals describe their knees as weather forecasters, with discomfort and coldness signaling impending changes in the weather. A trip to the hospital often confirms arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Knees are particularly vulnerable, protected only by a thin layer of skin. Neglecting warmth can lead to susceptibility to cold drafts, especially from air conditioning, allowing chill to penetrate deep into the knee joint. The ancient practice of sitting on the floor involved protecting the knees with the palms, which contain the “Laogong” acupoint associated with the pericardium meridian – a pathway related to the heart and its warming energy.

Prevention is key, and those who feel a constant chill in their knees should prioritize warmth and knee protection to ward off arthritis. Once mobility is compromised by damaged knees, daily life becomes challenging.

For those suffering from arthritic knees, a simple folk remedy has proven effective in over fifty cases, requiring only topical application rather than oral intake. This remedy comes from the traditional Chinese medicine practitioner Du Zhichun, whose generous contribution we acknowledge.

The method is straightforward: purchase 50 grams of white mustard seeds and 5 grams of sulfur, grinding them into powder and mixing thoroughly. Place an appropriate amount in a medical bag, boil it until hot, and once cooled to a comfortable temperature, apply the bag to the knee, securing it in place for twelve hours before removing. Repeat daily for about a month, after which the cold and dampness within the knee should be expelled, eliminating the cold and pain.

While this process may be cumbersome, there’s a simpler alternative: mix the powders with alcohol and apply directly to the troubled knee area, securing with medical tape or adhesive pain-relieving patches.

In essence, the goal is to expel the cold and dampness from the knee using the external application of white mustard seeds and sulfur, both known for their potent heat. This combination can address various knee issues, including degenerative joint disease, effusion, and meniscal damage. Some stimulation or burning sensation during application is normal, but if blisters occur, it’s advised to rest for a few days before resuming treatment.