Osteoarthritis is a pain in the neck, hands, knees, feet, and any other part of your body. However, this joint disorder that causes stiffness, swelling, and pain is not an inevitable result of aging. There’s much you can do to prevent osteoarthritis or slow its progression.
Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage in your joints degrades and does not function as it was designed. Cartilage cushions adjacent bones. When it wears down, bone rubs against bone causing pain, inflammation, and problems with your range of motion.
Steps you can take
Don’t despair. The doctors at LA Orthopaedic Specialists want you to know that there are some steps you can take to prevent or minimize the effects of osteoarthritis.
Maintain a healthy weight
People who are overweight or obese are at a greater risk for developing osteoarthritis. Extra weight puts excessive pressure on joints, especially those that bear weight. If you gain one pound, you put an added four pounds of stress to your knees, and your cartilage breaks down in direct proportion to this extra pressure. Also, inflammation caused by excessive fat tissue contributes to cartilage degradation.
Staying active is a great way to keep joints healthy. Perform at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days to keep your muscles strong and your joints lubricated. Walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, and gardening are all examples of effective physical exercise.
Check your blood sugar
Diabetes is a risk factor for osteoarthritis. When your blood sugar is too high, your body is more likely to produce molecules that contribute to cartilage dysfunction. These molecules make cartilage stiffer, less cushiony, and more sensitive to stress.
Cartilage is a poor healer. Injured joints are more likely to become arthritic than ones that have never been injured. Be careful to avoid unnecessary injury. Exercise in moderation, wear protective gear when you play sports, and use proper techniques when lifting heavy objects.
You have some control over osteoarthritis, but not all risk factors are avoidable. For example, arthritis risk increases with age because your cartilage breaks down from natural wear-and-tear. Post-menopausal women are at greater risk for osteoarthritis. And if you have a family history of osteoarthritis, you have a greater chance of developing the disease.
If you have these unavoidable risk factors, it’s doubly important to change your lifestyle to prevent or mitigate osteoarthritis. Even though osteoarthritis has no cure, you can reduce your risk and possibly even prevent its development.
At LA Orthopaedic Specialists, we can provide support and treatment for osteoarthritis patients. To schedule an appointment, call 213-455-8448, or use our online scheduling tool.