5 Ways to Prevent Arthritis

As we age, several body parts naturally wear down, especially the joints that help connect our bones. When these joints become inflamed or damaged over time, arthritis can develop. So what is arthritis? It is a progressive condition that tends to worsen over time and is associated with many painful symptoms that can sometimes accompany aging.

Some of the more common types are present in nearly half of all people by the time they reach age 65. This might be because there are over 100 types of arthritis, but many people are mostly aware of two, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Who is at risk?

Unfortunately, there are several factors outside your control that might raise your risk. Risk groups include:

– Age: Just like other illnesses, as you get older, your chance of arthritis increases.

– Gender: Women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, but men are more likely to develop a different type of gout.

– Family history: Certain types of arthritis can develop genetically. Genetics often play a significant role in the diseases we develop with age.

– Obesity: Wear and tear are one of the primary factors in osteoarthritis. Obesity puts more stress on the joints and can speed up this wear and tear.

– Previous injury: Once joints have been injured, they are more prone to future injury or chronic arthritis symptoms.

 

How can you prevent it?

The risk level differs among individuals; some cannot be prevented. However, because the people mentioned above are at a higher risk, people who are aware they fall under any of these categories may benefit even more from some positive, preventive habits. Whether you know that you could potentially develop it based on risk factors or you want to make sure you are trying to avoid it regardless, here are ways to help prevent it:

 

Stay at a healthy weight

Extra pounds put pressure on weight-bearing joints like hips and knees. Each pound you gain adds nearly four pounds of stress on your knees and puts six times the strain on your hips. But also, maybe even more importantly, several inflammatory mediators produced in fat affect joint tissues and play a role in pain.

In studies, researchers have found that mechanical pressures inside the knee joint improved with weight loss. However, the best results came when both exercise and diet were involved, solely losing weight significantly improved knee function.

 

Exercise

Exercise not only takes the stress of excess weight off your joints but also strengthens the muscles around the joints. This stabilizes them and can protect them from added wear and tear and give you more energy throughout the day.

But you do not need to run a marathon or swim as fast as an Olympic competitor to help reduce arthritis symptoms. Just 30 minutes of exercise five times a week allows joints to stay limber and strengthen muscles that support your knees and hips. Focus on low-impact exercises such as:

– Walking: Walking is a great bone-strengthening and aerobic activity for almost everyone.

– Cycling: Whether you are riding outdoors or sitting on an upright or recumbent exercise bike, cycling avoids the pounding of high-impact aerobics activities, but still packs excellent cardiovascular benefits.

– Swimming: This is suitable for people with significant joint pain because the water buoyancy relieves pressure on your joints.

– Pilates: Pilates is useful for patients who want stronger muscles. Pilates stabilizes your joints and strengthens the muscles that support your joints.

– Yoga: Almost everyone can benefit, even people with tender, swollen joints. And it helps promotes a healthy immune system and helps reduce joint inflammation

 

Eat fish

Fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy polyunsaturated fat. Omega-3s have several health benefits, and they can reduce inflammation in the body. Fish caught in the wild is usually recommended over farmed fish.

In an analysis of 17 studies have found that taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements decreased joint pain intensity, morning stiffness, the number of painful joints, and the use of pain relievers in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends eating fish high in omega-3s twice a week. For example, fish such as:

– Salmon

– Trout

– Mackerel

– Sardines

– Tuna

All these fishes help lower inflammation and protect the heart. It is also important to mention that larger fish like the swordfish, king mackerel, tuna, and shark. These feed on large numbers of small fish and mercury from all those fish accumulates in their bodies.

 

Quit smoking

Smoking puts stress on tissues that protect your joints and can lead to arthritis pain. A Mayo Clinic study published in 2007 followed 159 men with knee osteoarthritis (OA) for up to 30 months and found current smokers had more severe pain and were more than twice as likely to have significant cartilage loss as nonsmokers.

The researchers speculate that toxins from smoking may contribute to cartilage loss or that high carbon monoxide levels in the blood could hamper cartilage repair. Furthermore, smokers lacking a gene called glutathione S-transferase M1 (GSTM1) – which is believed to play a role in detoxifying cancer-causing agents in cigarette smoke had higher levels of rheumatoid factor, an antibody associated with more severe RA

 

Be Good to Your Joints

The better you take care of your joints, the better they can take care of you. This means doing certain things to avoid putting a strain on your waist, wrists, and knees. You can take significant measures such as:

– Bending your knees to lift heavy objects instead of bending at the waist.

– Carrying heavy items close to your body to take the strain off your wrists.

– Being careful of the positions in which you sleep.

Another thing you can do to help your joints is to stand after you have been sitting for extended periods. If you have a desk job, take breaks often to stand, stretch, and take a short walk.

 

Dr. John Knight
Dr. John Knight

Dr. Knight is a renowned hand, wrist and upper extremity surgeon with over 25 years of experience. Dr. Knight is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Fellowship trained. Dr Knight has appeared on CNN, The Doctors TV, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Oxygen network and more.