Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis globally. It occurs when the cartilage that surrounds your bones and joints begins to wear. Symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, tenderness, loss of flexibility, bone spurs, swelling and even a constant grating sensation in the worst cases.
Osteoarthritis affects more than 3.5 million people in the U.S annually. Still, we aren’t all doomed to death by slow painful ache. In fact, there is a lot you can do to prevent osteoarthritis and maintain your joint health well into old age.
Here are 5 tips to help prevent osteoarthritis:
Stand Up Straight
Posture is often overlooked when it comes to preventing arthritis. The reality is poor posture has been proven to affect and even cause arthritis, especially in the back and neck.
It’s not hard to imagine how. The average head weighs over 10 lbs and is supported 24/7 by the neck and spine. If you have correct posture, your head will be held in a line above your neck. If you have poor posture, that means you are attempting to hold your head(a 10 lb. weight) up to 30 degrees forward from your neck.
The stress this puts on your frame is obvious.
When standing, the same dilemma from poor posture can cause lower back pain and eventually worsen arthritis there as well. Incorrect positioning of the pelvis causes the stomach to move forward and the lower back to arch in response, this stresses the spine and causes lower back pain.
If you want to prevent arthritis, remember to stand up straight.
Eating right is perhaps the best preventive measure available against osteoarthritis. Eating a balanced, healthy diet reduces blood pressure, improves circulation, helps control weight and increases mobility by making it easy to stay active.
All of this is excellent, but perhaps the number one reason to focus on a diet if you want to prevent osteoarthritis is: according to the Arthritis Foundation, people diagnosed with diabetes are almost twice as likely to have arthritis.
If you want to prevent arthritis you need to maintain circulation and that means avoiding diabetes like the plague.
Adding antioxidants and other ‘superfoods’ to your diet is another great way to avoid osteoarthritis. For example, according to the NIH, adding turmeric, the Moroccan spice, to your diet can help reduce joint inflammation.
Maintaining a healthy diet can be challenging, but it is well worth the effort.
One of the main recommendations the Mayo Clinic gives to treat and prevent arthritis is exercise. Staying active as you age can help increase circulation, and prevent a myriad of diseases including hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Of course, staying active as we age can be difficult, but the reality is putting in that little bit of extra effort daily can make a huge difference when it comes to osteoarthritis and pain as we age.
Don’t take my word for it, though, according to Johns Hopkins University’s arthritis centre: “Regular activity replenishes lubrication to the cartilage of the joint and reduces stiffness and pain.”
Hot and Cold Therapy
Hot and cold therapy can help greatly reduce the pain associated with osteoarthritis, but they have also been proven to help as a preventative measure as well by allowing seniors to remain more active.
Heat therapy is used to relieve muscle and joint pain, as well as stiffness and inflammation. Heat therapy is great for before or after exercise and can help to ease muscle spasms which worsen joint pain.
Cold therapy, on the other hand, is used to reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain related to arthritis after activity. Cold therapy shouldn’t be used prior to any strenuous activity however, as it causes muscles to contract, which can relieve pain in the short term but may reduce blood circulation in joints and muscles.
Be careful when it comes to hot and cold therapy, it’s possible to overdo things and cause more harm than good. Still, if you find relief from these techniques, practice them properly and they can be a great addition to your preventative routine.
The final option you have when it comes to preventing osteoarthritis and the associated pain is preventative procedures. Surgical procedures to help arthritis include arthroscopy, osteotomy, and arthroplasty.
If you are at this stage, you probably already have some form of arthritis and you are looking to help turn things around. Finding the right orthopaedic doctors to treat your conditions is vital.
Luckily, there are many resources out there to help you find the right physician to treat your orthopedic conditions.
Osteoarthritis affects over 3.5 million Americans annually. Don’t be one of them.
Through consistent preventative care, you can live pain-free well after 65. Osteoarthritis doesn’t have to be a life sentence.