Joints, pain, arthritis, rain... What is the truth

Although it can get on other people's nerves, crunching your knuckles probably won't worsen joint problems or increase your chances of arthritis. Also, bone pain is unlikely to predict bad weather

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Illustration, Photo: Shutterstock
Illustration, Photo: Shutterstock
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

Research provides information on how to avoid joint pain with healthier habits and diet. Experts say - don't believe in myths, take vitamin D and stop worrying about rain and bad weather.

Nine myths about joints, knuckles and arthritis

Myth 1: Cracking the joints of the fingers and hands is harmful

It can get on other people's nerves, but crunching your knuckles probably won't make your joint problems worse or increase your chances of arthritis.

The joints are "lubricated" by synovial fluid, which contains dissolved nitrogen in a gaseous state. When you stretch your wrist, the cavity containing this fluid expands, causing a drop in pressure. This causes the dissolved gas to "come out" of the solution to form a bubble - and the rapid release of the gas creates a crunching sound. The same joint cannot burst again immediately because it takes about 20 minutes before the bubbles dissolve again in the liquid.

Several studies have shown that the finger-crunching habit is harmless, including one by a California doctor who regularly cracked the knuckles of just one hand for decades. An x-ray showed no difference between his hands when it came to arthritis.

Also, a study involving 300 patients found no link between joint cracking and arthritis.

Gas bubbles around the joints can also cause "clicking" in the joints during exercise, but popping or clicking sounds can also be the result of tendons or ligaments moving over bony bumps under the joint, the Guardian reports. RTS.

Myth 2: Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the same disease

They are not because arthritis is inflammation of the joint, and inflammation can be caused by various causes. On the other hand, osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear and usually affects only one joint, usually the knee or hip, and is more common in people over 50 years of age. People whose jobs involve heavy physical work, such as construction work, or work that requires a lot of kneeling, such as carpentry, are at greater risk of osteoarthritis.

Obesity, which also puts more stress on the joints, is another major risk factor. But there is also a genetic component, where research estimates heritability at 40 to 70 percent.

photo: Shutterstock

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the synovial membrane that covers and protects the joints. It is less common than osteoarthritis, usually begins in middle age and causes joint pain all over the body. It occurs two to three times more often in women than in men.

There are certain genes that put a person at increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, as well as making the symptoms more severe, but smoking and obesity also increase the possibility of this disease.

Myth 3: There is nothing you can do to prevent arthritis

For osteoarthritis, being overweight is a significant risk factor because it puts more stress on the joints, so maintaining a healthy weight helps reduce the risk. For rheumatoid arthritis, smoking is one of the biggest risk factors, and cigarette smoking has been shown to worsen symptoms. So, quitting smoking helps reduce the risk.

Myth 4: Joint pain during menopause is inevitable

Estrogen helps maintain cartilage and other joint tissues. As estrogen declines during menopause, many women notice joint pain. Hormone therapy is widely accepted as the most effective solution for menopausal symptoms, including joint pain. Therapy restores estrogen levels, but it is not always possible to apply it, and some women prefer to deal with menopause symptoms in other ways.

One of the most effective ways to reduce joint pain is exercise. Weight-bearing exercises that strengthen the musculoskeletal system are especially good for relieving such pain. Walking or jogging is recommended for the lower body, and weights should be used for the upper body.

Myth 5: A collagen supplement can help restore joints

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and plays a vital role in the formation of connective tissue. Without enough collagen, our skin, bones, muscles, tendons and cartilage lose elasticity and strength. The body produces less collagen as we age, so it makes sense to take supplements to make up for the deficit, but there is a lack of solid evidence that they actually have an effect.

Some studies have found encouraging results, but most have shown modest health benefits. Also, research is often funded by supplement companies, which increases the potential for bias.

Myth 6: Supplements are unnecessary for maintaining healthy joints

Most of the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy bones should be consumed through a healthy diet. Vitamin D is an exception. It helps the body absorb calcium, which is necessary for building bone mass. It is produced in the skin during exposure to sunlight, and during the summer months this source is usually sufficient.

Vitamin D
photo: Shutterstock

However, during the winter it is not possible to produce enough vitamin D in this way alone and it can be difficult to make up for the deficit solely through dietary sources such as fatty fish, meat and eggs.

Experts recommend that adults consider taking supplements during the winter months. Lack of vitamin D is directly related to pain in the joints, and is also a common cause of rickets, which softens and deforms the bones.

Myth 7: Diet does not affect joints

Inflammation is often the cause of joint pain and stiffness, so a diet aimed at reducing inflammatory processes could help. There is no one magic ingredient, but getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins from quality foods, and avoiding large amounts of red meat, processed foods, and sugar are a great start.

Myth 8: Gout is no longer a health problem

Gout is most often associated with large, middle-aged, ruddy-faced men who overeat with rich food and alcohol. Henry VIII suffered from this disease and fits the picture perfectly.

However, gout is increasingly affecting younger men and women, with statistics showing a global increase in the number of patients aged between 15 and 39 diagnosed with it, from 39 cases per 100.000 people in 1990 to 46 per 100.000 in 2019. It is believed to be the result of a drastic increase in the number of obese and diabetics, which are risk factors.

Gout is a type of arthritis that causes sudden, severe pain and joint inflammation, often in the big toe. This is the result of high levels of uric acid accumulating in the blood, which can lead to the formation of needle-like crystals around the joints. Uric acid is a byproduct of purines, which are found in larger amounts in red meat, shellfish and alcoholic beverages.

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Before menopause, women have a much lower risk of gout because estrogen intensifies the removal of uric acid by the kidneys. Being overweight, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure are risk factors and are thought to increase the number of younger people suffering from gout.

Myth 9: Rain and thunderstorms make arthritis worse

You may know someone who claims to be able to predict bad weather based on their arthritis pain. There are claims that the alleged link could be due to the drop in atmospheric pressure that often precedes bad weather, causing the joints to expand. However, there is little conclusive evidence to support this theory.

One study, based on data from more than 11 million doctor visits by American patients, found no pattern linking rainy days with more pain. What's more, people sought the help of doctors more on dry days.

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