Frequently Asked Questions

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a name for a group of conditions affecting the joints, muscles, and connective tissues of the body. Arthritis causes pain and stiffness of the joints, and can significantly affect quality of life. Visit the What is Arthritis page for more information.

Is rheumatism different to arthritis?

Not really. Rheumatism is just a more general word that was used in the past. It described pain in your bones, muscles and joints. We know more today about problems with bones, muscles and joints, so we use words like back pain, tendonitis and arthritis to describe these conditions. See the What is Arthritis page for more information.

Is arthritis hereditary?

A family history of arthritis can increase your risk of getting it. However, it is not the only cause of arthritis. Females are more likely to get arthritis, and there are lifestyle factors that can increase your risk as well. For more information on causes of arthritis, click here.

Who gets arthritis?

One in five people have arthritis, and it can affect anyone, including children and young people. Many people think that arthritis is a normal part of ageing, but this is not true. In fact 60% of people with arthritis are between the ages of 15 to 64.

How can I find out if I have arthritis?

Symptoms of arthritis include pain and stiffness in your joints. If you suspect you have arthritis, you should visit your doctor, because it is very important to get an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor will usually ask questions about symptoms and family history, and examine the affected joints. You may be sent for blood tests, x-rays, or other tests. It may take several visits before your doctor can tell you if you have arthritis, and what type of arthritis you have. This is because some types of arthritis can be hard to diagnose in the early stages.

Is there a cure for arthritis?

Currently, there is no cure for most forms of arthritis. While there are treatments that can effectively control symptoms, you should be wary of any products or treatments that claim to cure arthritis. Arthritis Queensland assists in funding research, and we hope that we can eventually find a cure. But we rely on donations. Please donate now, to find a cure.

Can arthritis be treated?

Many types of arthritis can be easily and effectively controlled by modern treatment. Because arthritis affects people in different ways, treatment has to be tailored to the needs of each person. It is important to work with your healthcare team to find treatments that suit you. For more information on the treatment and management of arthritis, ring our infoline, download booklets and information sheets, or attend one of our courses and seminars.

Are there any foods I should avoid for arthritis?

For arthritis, it is important to eat a balanced diet, and maintain a healthy weight so that there isn’t too much stress on your joints. For some types of arthritis, such as gout, it can be more important to ensure that your diet is balanced, and there is some evidence to suggest that some foods can worsen your symptoms. To read more about diet and gout, click here, or download an information sheet on gout.

I’ve been prescribed medication for my arthritis. Is there anything else I can do to reduce my pain?

  • A healthy diet and lifestyle is important for coping with pain. Maintaining a healthy weight is very important to minimise pain from arthritis. Exercising regularly, eating a well balanced diet, and getting a good night’s sleep every night are ways in which you can manage your pain.
  • Heat and cold treatments can be effective, such as heat packs, warm baths, and ice packs. Discuss with your healthcare team about whether heat or cold may be better for your type of arthritis.
  • Doing enjoyable activities that distract your attention from you pain, such as reading, listening to music, or participating in hobbies. Relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing can also be useful.
  • Balance work and rest in your daily activities. This means taking a break before you get tired and sore, and instead of doing heavy or repetitive tasks like laundry and house cleaning in one go, break them up and do little bits each day. To read more about managing at home with arthritis, download a booklet here.
  • Practice joint protection principles. Use the strongest and largest muscles and joints when you can – for example, instead of carrying bags in your hands, carry them on your forearm. There are lots of ways you can change the way you do things, so that your joints are kept strong and healthy. To learn more about joint protection, download a booklet on managing at home with arthritis here.
  • Some complementary therapies such as acupuncture or massage are useful for some people, but it is best to consult your doctor, and ensure you choose a registered practitioner.

Are there any supplements or natural treatments that I could take for my arthritis?

Complementary therapies are therapies that are not part of the standard medical treatment for arthritis. They can include acupuncture, massage, and herbal medicines and supplements. Glucosamine and chondroitin are substances that are thought to relieve the pain and slow the progression of osteoarthritis. The results from studies of these supplements are unclear. Download information sheets on supplements here.

As with all natural supplements and therapies, it is important that you discuss them with your doctor and healthcare team. There may be possible side effects or interactions with your medicines, and not all complementary therapies are regulated. Download an information sheet on complementary therapies here.  

For more information about arthritis call our free infoline on 1800 011 041 and speak with one of our healthcare professionals.