Ten Arthritis Myths and Realities

Katherine Poehlmann, PhD, who is in remission from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) after using antibiotic protocols (AP), has written extensively on the topic of infectious causes for rheumatic diseases. In this brief overview, she addresses some of the myths and realities commonly attributed to RA and osteoarthritis (OA), such as the effectiveness of AP as a proven treatment for RA, the differences between RA and OA, and how these two diseases are sometimes confused.


Ten Arthritis Myths and Realities

Katherine Poehlmann, PhD

MYTH #1: Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is incurable

Dr. Thomas McPherson Brown discovered the link between bacterial infection and rheumatic disease in the 1940s. He found that the tetracycline family of antibiotics was particularly effective in quashing the infection when given in a low dose over a long period of time. Sadly, the medical establishment still considers this treatment controversial after 70 years of solid scientific evidence and documented case studies. Once the bacterial infection is brought under control and your immune system is revitalized to take over, you may be able to taper off treatment or remain on a maintenance dose. For some people, the treatment takes months or years. The treatment applies to RA, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus, MS, and many other diseases characterized by joint pain, inflammation, and chronic fatigue. The Arthritis Center of Riverside reports that approximately 80% of RA patients do respond with variable degrees of improvement, and about 1/3 of patients with RA achieve remission within five years.

MYTH #2: You can’t have both RA and Osteoarthritis (OA)

Scientific research and definitive tests have disproved this, although doctors still like to categorize. RA and OA are the two main types of arthritis, but RA infection leads directly to OA as collagen, the building block of cartilage, is gradually destroyed. The result is bone-on-bone friction – the hallmark of OA. You can also suffer from reactive arthritis for a variety of reasons: salmonella, food allergies, chemical sensitivities, the flu, and so forth. Testing labs like Better Health USA in Florida and ImmunoSciences Lab in California offer definitive blood tests to help determine what’s really causing your pain. It may turn out to be an allergy, not arthritis.

MYTH #3: Osteoarthritis is a disease

OA is a wear-and-tear condition resulting from a wide range of causes: misaligned bones from poor posture, ill-fitting shoes, carrying excess weight (body weight, big purses, briefcases, or backpacks), lax muscles that undermine joint integrity, poor circulation, repeated heavy lifting, joint-pounding exercise, or improper physical therapy.

MYTH #4: Arthritis is just for old people

RA can strike at any age – even babies – both sexes, and all ethnic groups. OA is a secondary effect of RA, so juveniles with RA can develop OA well before middle age. Because there are no nerves in cartilage, you don’t notice the erosion until it’s too late and you feel the pain of bone grinding on bone. Cartilage destruction can happen to sedentary middle-aged people, usually in the knees and hips. It can happen to athletes in their teens who make a career of pounding their cartilage and who endure repeated joint traumas.

MYTH #5: Cartilage supplements are useless

Scientific research and case studies (especially veterinary treatments) have shown the benefits of MSM and gelatin for adding elasticity and flexibility to cartilage. Vitamin C stabilizes collagen. Immunosuppressive prescription drugs deplete Vitamin C. Stem cell therapy can help rebuild knee cartilage and repair micro-fractures leading to painful bone swelling. Joint replacement surgery should be a last resort after all other options have been explored. Danger of staphylococcus infection is a good reason to avoid hospitals.

MYTH #6: Prescription drugs are the only way to manage pain

Many benign homeopathic and herbal remedies can alleviate pain. Meditation, self-hypnosis, specific exercises (like yoga and tai chi) are useful for pain management and stress relief. Prescription drugs stifle the immune system’s normal action, increasing the risk for infection. When you don’t feel pain, you may be doing your joints harm, and causing further damage to cartilage.

MYTH #7: Exercise is too painful and/or time-consuming

Exercise doesn’t mean signing up with a gym or doing strenuous aerobics. Gentle stretching and deep breathing can be done anywhere, at any time, with little or no equipment. Train yourself to do “Chair-robics” during TV commercials. Keep a stretch band and a ball handy. The worst thing you can do when suffering joint pain is to become sedentary. Inactivity lets your cartilage dry out so joints get stiff, like a dry sponge. Don’t sit for more than an hour (TV, computer, bingo) without some flexing and stretching. Brisk walking and water aerobics are highly beneficial.

Cartilage maintains its flexibility by compression and relaxation, bringing fluid and nutrients to the tissues. We lose fluids as we age and replenishing them is essential to good health. One of the best ways to keep your joints flexible and your cartilage supple is to drink lots of pure water, not tap water or distilled water. Bottled spring water or filtered tap water or herbal teas are best. The thought of eight 8-ounce glasses per day seems intimidating. Better to set out two quart-size sports bottles (or four 16-oz water bottles) in the morning and sip the same total amount (64 ounces) throughout the day.

MYTH #8: Osteoarthritis is inevitable

There are 325 million people in the United States, and an estimated 21 million osteoarthritis sufferers. Numbers should be much higher if all people over 40 automatically face OA. Those who start good nutrition and exercise habits in their teens and 20s and maintain a robust immune system will likely avoid OA in later life.

MYTH #9: Doctors have all the answers

Nobody has all the answers. We should always be in learning mode. It’s unfortunate that some doctors are so closed-minded when it comes to treatments they weren’t taught in medical school. One of those treatments is Dr. Brown’s groundbreaking discovery and decades of scientific proof. Of course, there are many organizations with a vested interest in keeping alive the myth that arthritis is incurable and unavoidable. Foundations and researchers “in search of a cure” continue to appeal for donations to perpetuate their bureaucracies. Doctors are often hamstrung by orders from their HMOs to prescribe from an approved list of medications and treatments because the HMOs get lucrative contracts from the drug companies. Pain relievers are a multi-billion-dollar bonanza for the pharmaceutical industry. Prescription drugs (biologics) like Enbrel and Humira are expensive. Tetracycline is comparatively cheap. Why kill the golden goose by announcing a relatively benign, proven treatment that may lead to remission?

MYTH #10: You just have to live with it

The Internet can put you in touch with arthritis support groups. Research sites give you the information you need to take charge of your health. The Road Back Foundation maintains a list of physicians who will apply Dr. Brown’s therapy.

Fortunately, a growing number of practitioners are willing to listen to Dr. Brown’s message of hope and healing. They work with their patients to address the infectious root causes of their illness instead of just treating symptoms. I am one of thousands of former RA sufferers as living proof that Dr. Brown’s regimen is effective. It’s not a magic bullet. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s certainly worth a try.