1. Health

Misconceptions About Osteoarthritis

Assessing Patient Knowledge of Osteoarthritis and Turning Up Misconceptions


Updated May 04, 2009

The importance of educating yourself and understanding osteoarthritis cannot be over-emphasized. The more you know, the better you will be able to manage all aspects of living with osteoarthritis.

Common Misconceptions Steer You Away From Facts

You may or may not be surprised to learn there are common misconceptions about osteoarthritis. Despite the abundance of information that is available about osteoarthritis, misconceptions prevail. One study used a questionnaire to identify some of the common misconceptions about osteoarthritis. Here are a dozen misconceptions derived from the study that serve as a mere sampling of what patients don't fully understand about osteoarthritis. Of the study participants:

  • 53% believed a blood test was used to diagnose osteoarthritis.
  • 13% believed NSAIDs should only be taken if pain was severe.
  • 25% said they didn't know about side effects related to NSAID use.
  • 46% thought analgesics (pain medications) must be taken with food.
  • 13% felt housekeeping was sufficient exercise to strengthen muscles.
  • 17% said they didn't know what suitable exercise was for osteoarthritis.
  • 39% believed there was no need to make adjustments to include joint protection and thought they should live as though they did not have osteoarthritis.
  • 63% said they didn't know about proven complementary therapies.
  • 33% claimed they couldn't name two ways that would help with getting a good night's sleep.
  • 65% confused a joint protection technique with energy conservation.
  • 36% thought a joint could be protected by using heat and ice.
  • 27% believe osteoarthritis always gets worse over time.

Point to Remember

As an osteoarthritis patient, you should assume nothing about the disease. It's actually your responsibility to learn about the disease -- symptoms, diagnosis, treatments -- essentially all aspects of managing osteoarthritis. If you cling to misconceptions, you are either doing something wrong or not doing enough to help yourself live well with osteoarthritis.

Access information. Learn all that you can about osteoarthritis. If you are confused, ask questions. Ask your doctor or another healthcare professional. Once those questions are answered -- ask more. You need to develop an insatiable appetite for osteoarthritis information.


Patient knowledge and misconceptions of osteoarthritis assessed by a validated self-completed knowledge questionnaire. Hill J. and Bird H. Rheumatology. December 18, 2006.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.