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True or False: The Top Six Myths About Joint Pain

Nearly one-third of American adults experience joint pain on a regular basis. With a condition that occurs this frequently, it’s easy to see why old wives’ tales and phrases like: “Don’t do that, you’ll get arthritis!” are so common.

As an orthopedic surgeon at Abington – Jefferson Health, Moody Kwok, MD, is happy to help his patients find relief from the pain, and dispel a few rumors along the way. Dr. Kwok breaks down the top six myths about joint pain.

Myth: If you can move a joint, it isn’t broken.

Dr. Kwoks says: FALSE

"Breaks come in many flavors, so to speak. They occur on a spectrum. Large fractures and large dislocations would be very painful to move, or might not be movable at all,” Dr. Kwok said. “But there are also times where a bone is fractured, and the piece is small, like when a basketball player jams a finger. It’s broken, but you can still move it because the piece isn't big enough to cause such pain to be unmovable.”

Myth: Women are more likely to get arthritis than men.

Dr. Kwok says: FALSE

“Arthritis occurs in the body where two bones meet, and is caused by the erosion or wear of cartilage,” Dr. Kwok said. “In general, women have looser ligaments. From the time that they are young, they go through monthly hormonal changes, which leads to their joints being more relaxed.”

“Due to the nature of their ligaments, women may present with symptoms of arthritis earlier than men do. But, if you look at the numbers as a whole, there is no significant difference,” said Dr. Kwok.

Myth: Rain and thunderstorms can make arthritis symptoms worse.

Dr. Kwok says: TRUE

“Patients often say they feel arthritis symptoms more when bad weather is coming. This is caused by a drop in atmospheric pressure,” Dr. Kwok said. “The pressure inside your joints is being intensified, as well as symptoms from your arthritis. Anything that is swollen will be more tender, and anything that is congested, feels more congested.”

“It’s important to know that a storm or a change in pressure doesn't cause arthritis, it just means that patients with existing symptoms may experience symptoms that worsen,” Dr. Kwok said.

Myth: Typing frequently will always give you carpal tunnel syndrome.

Dr. Kwok says: FALSE

“To this day, there have been no reputable studies that suggest that if you type frequently, you will 100 percent develop carpal tunnel syndrome,” said Dr. Kwok. “There are many other conditions, like diabetes and sarcoidosis, that correlate to developing carpal tunnel, as well as experiencing trauma.”

Myth: Copper bracelets and wraps can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

Dr. Kwok says: FALSE

“There have been no studies that correlate wearing copper with a reduced instance of carpal tunnel syndrome,” Dr. Kwok said. “Carpal tunnel is a repetitive injury, where there isn't enough room for your nerves, so they become squished. Confirmed risk factors include age, diabetes, overuse and some vitamin deficiencies.”

Myth: Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis.

Dr. Kwok says: FALSE

“No studies show that people who crack their knuckles develop arthritis more often than those who don’t. Actually, it’s been shown in research that when someone does crack their knuckles, they may experience an amplified range of motion compared to those who do not crack their knuckles. This only lasts for a short time, maybe an hour or two. After that, studies show there isn’t much of a difference between the two,” said Dr. Kwok.

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