How To Reduce Your Risk Of Arthritis
Even if you cant prevent it, you might be able to lower your chances of developing some forms of arthritis.
The fact is, there is no sure way to prevent arthritis. But you can help reduce your risk and delay the potential onset of certain types of arthritis. If you have healthy joints right now, do all you can now to maintain mobility and function and avoid the pain and disability associated with arthritis.
There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions, and each has associated risk factors, individual features, behaviors and circumstances.
Some risk factors are not modifiable, and there really isnt anything you you can do about them. Being female and having a family history of arthritis are two examples of factors that make people more likely but not certain to get some types of arthritis.
Risk factors that are considered modifiable are the behaviors and circumstances that can be changed in order to reduce risk, delay onset or even prevent arthritis. A few examples of modifiable risk factors for certain types of arthritis and related conditions:
- Osteoarthritis: Maintain a healthy weight.
How To Avoid Achy Joints
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. The three main types are osteoarthritis , rheumatoid arthritis , and psoriatic arthritis . Each type develops differently, but all are painful and can lead to joint deformity and a loss of function.
You cant always prevent arthritis. Some causes, such as age, family history, and sex , are out of your control.
However, a few healthy habits can help reduce your risk of developing painful joints as you get older. Many of these practices such as exercising and eating a healthy diet help prevent other diseases, too.
Quit Or Avoid Smoking
Clinicians suggest that smoking can increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. It may also make arthritis symptoms worse.
Researchers are not exactly sure how smoking and nicotine contribute to arthritis. A 2020 literature review suggests that it may be due to cigarette smokings effects on the immune system and genetic factors. However, further research is needed to fully understand this link.
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Why Is Exercise Important To Prevent Arthritis
Regular exercise is one of the most important strategies to try to prevent arthritis. Exercise can help keep your weight down, which reduces stress on your joints. The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center reports being only ten pounds overweight increases the force on the knee by 30- 60 pounds with each step.
Exercise also strengthens the muscles around joints, helping to reduce wear on the muscles and joints. Regular physical activity also stretches our tendons and ligaments to maintain flexibility. Cartilage is like a rubbery cushion in a joint, and it gets lubricated when we move that joint. Regular exercise keeps components of our joints lubricated and flexible, helping to reduce pain.
Your exercise routine can include the following low-impact aerobic activities:
All of these activities can boost your heart rate while avoiding the stress on your joints caused by high-impact exercises that involve running and jumping.
Take Control Of Your Health
Arthritis isnt an entirely preventable disease. Some of us are always going to be more susceptible to it than others. We may have a genetic pre-disposition, we may have to work at a desk all day, or we may simply be getting older.
Dont let this discourage you. There are so many ways you can take control of your own health and take steps to relieving your arthritis symptoms.
Maybe you havent developed arthritis yet, and maybe you never will. But these are still great tips and great measures you can take to keep your body healthy and functioning properly.
Eating well, exercising regularly, avoiding injury and visiting your doctor are all great ideas regardless of whether or not you think you might be developing arthritis. By following these steps, youll soon be well on your way to a healthier you.
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What Are The Types Of Arthritis Of The Knee
There are around 100 types of arthritis. The most common types that might affect your knees include:
- Osteoarthritis is the most common of the types on this list. Osteoarthritis wears away your cartilage the cushioning between the three bones of your knee joint. Without that protection, your bones rub against each other. This can cause pain, stiffness and limited movement. It can also lead to the development of bone spurs. Osteoarthritis gets worse as time passes.
- Post-traumatic arthritis is a type of osteoarthritis. The cartilage starts thinning after trauma to your knee . Your bones rub together, and that causes the same symptoms as osteoarthritis: pain, stiffness and limited movement. Your knee arthritis symptoms might not start until years after the trauma.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. A healthy immune system causes inflammation when it’s trying to protect you from an infection, injury, toxin or another foreign invader. The inflammatory response is one way your body protects itself. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you have an unhealthy immune system that triggers inflammation in your joints even though theres no foreign invader. The inflammation causes pain, stiffness and swelling of the synovial membrane, which can also wear away your cartilage.
Work On How You Manage Stress
When you’re stressed out, it’s not just in your head. Your body makes more stress hormones, which may trigger RA symptoms.
There’s no way to avoid stress completely, of course. But you can help prevent it if you take better care of yourself when you know that you have stressful events coming up, like work deadlines.
Look for new ways to ease your mind. For instance, exercise releases “feel-good” hormones called endorphins. Studies show that moving around improves your mood and helps you sleep better. Pick activities that don’t put pressure on your joints. For example, go for a walk instead of a jog.
Mind-body techniques also can lower stress. Examples are:
Check to see if your local community center offers free or low-cost classes.
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Causes Of Arthritis In The Hands
Arthritic conditions can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and tenderness in the small joints of the hands and fingers.
Inflammatory arthritis conditions, like RA, psoriatic arthritis, gout, and ankylosing spondylitis cause inflammation. Symptoms of inflammation include redness, warmth, swelling, and pain. In general, OA is degenerative, rather than inflammatory.
Strengthen And Stretch Muscles
Doing exercises regularly to stretch and strengthen muscles can increase flexibility, improve balance and help reduce your risk of suffering future injuries. Several different muscles contribute to joint strength and stability. For example, your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes all support your knees and hips. Your stomach muscles help support your back and hips. Try mini-squats and other exercises that gently stretch those muscles. Start with just a few, and increase repetitions as you get stronger.
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Replace High Impact Sports With Low Impact Activities
Some people dont feel like theyre getting a workout unless theyre gasping for breath, but in reality, low impact exercises and activities can provide a great workout without damaging your joint cartilage. High impact sports like running, basketball and football cause wear and tear of cartilage in our joints. Strength training, brisk walking, swimming and yoga are all excellent low impact exercises.
Know What Triggers Your Flares
Do a little detective work. If you can figure out what’s making your symptoms worse, you may be able to avoid problems down the road.
RA is unpredictable. It can be better or worse for reasons you can’t control. Infections can be a culprit. So can stress. Some people get flares if they overdo it. Others say certain foods trigger problems, though thereâs not a lot of research to back that up.
The important thing is to find out whatâs going on. The next time you have a flare, make notes about what’s been going on in your life. For instance:
- What’s your overall health?
- What kinds of things are you doing every day?
- What foods have you been eating?
Once you learn your triggers, you can take steps to avoid them.
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What Is A Joint And How Does It Work
A joint is where two or more bones meet, such as in the fingers, knees, and shoulders. Joints hold bones in place and allow them to move freely within limits.
Most of the joints in our body are surrounded by a strong capsule. The capsule is filled with a thick fluid that helps to lubricate the joint. These capsules hold our bones in place. They do this with the help of ligaments. These are a bit like very strong elastic bands.
The ends of the bones within a joint are lined with cartilage. This is a smooth but tough layer of tissue that allows bones to glide over one another as you move.
If we want to move a bone, our brain gives a signal to the muscle, which then pulls a tendon, and this is attached to the bone. Muscles therefore have an important role in supporting a joint.
Gout And Calcium Crystal Diseases
Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can cause painful swelling in joints. It typically affects the big toe, but it can also affect other joints in the body.
Joints affected by gout can become red and hot. The skin may also look shiny and can peel.
Its caused by having too much urate, otherwise known as uric acid, in the body. We all have a certain amount of urate in our body.
However, being overweight or eating and drinking too much of certain types of food and alcoholic drinks can cause some people to have more urate in their bodies. The genes you inherit can make you more likely to develop gout.
If it reaches a high level, urate can form into crystals that remain in and around the joint. They can be there for a while without causing any problems and even without the person realising they are there.
A knock to a part of the body or having a fever can lead to the crystals falling into the soft part of the joint. This will cause pain and swelling.
There are drugs that can reduce the amount of urate in the body and prevent gout attacks. Examples are allopurinol and . If youre having a gout attack, youll also need short-term pain relief. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as well as paracetamol can be good drugs to try first.
Men can get gout from their mid-20s, and in women its more common after the menopause. Taking water tablets can increase the risk of gout.
There are also conditions that cause calcium crystals to form in and around joints.
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When Should I See My Doctor
Joints get sore and swollen for many reasons. It could be due to an injury, overuse, or doing a new type of physical activity.
See your doctor if you have pain and stiffness that starts with no clear reason, lasts for more than a few days, and also causes swelling, redness and warmth. It is important to start treatment as soon as possible to prevent the condition from getting worse and causing long-term damage.
Is Arthritis Preventable Tips For Keeping Your Joints Healthy
While you may not be able to fully prevent arthritis, you can take steps to prioritize joint health and alleviate arthritis pain.
Is arthritis preventable? It depends. While some wear and tear on your joints is an inevitable part of life, you can take steps to maintain joint health and help reduce the symptoms of arthritis as you age.
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How To Stop Arthritis From Progressing
It may not always be possible to prevent arthritis, but you can slow it down
Osteoarthritis, commonly referred to as wear-and-tear arthritis, is the most common form of arthritis, affecting over 30 million Americans.
Persons diagnosed with osteoarthritis often worry about the progressive nature of the disease and wonder if they will one day end up needing joint replacement surgery. By making changes in your life, however, you may be able to avoid this outcome and potentially slow or stop arthritis from progressing. Here are five fixes that can help.
Stop Fearing Medications That May Help
Arthritis patients sometimes avoid painkillers because they’re afraid they’ll become addicted to them, or they choose not to use biologic drugs because they fear potential serious side effects. Remember that your healthcare provider would never prescribe something that might hurt you or that you could become dependent on as long as you take it as directed.
Make sure you understand when and how much of your medication you should take, and how you should take it and your arthritis meds should do nothing more than make it easier for you to live comfortably.
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Maintain A Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight by exercising and choosing healthy food reduces your chances of developing heart disease, obesity, diabetes and arthritis.
Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces the amount of pressure youre carrying on your knees. The more pressure on your knees, the more pressure on your knees cartilage. Once that cartilage breaks down, you face some tough decisions about how to deal with chronic knee pain.
Reducing Inflammation And Preventing Damage
A balanced, nutritious diet will give the body the tools it needs to prevent further damage to the joints, which is essential for people with osteoarthritis.
Some foods are known to reduce inflammation in the body, and following an anti-inflammatory diet can improve symptoms. Eating enough antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E, may help to prevent further damage to the joints.
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Stop Ignoring Your Physical Limitations
Just as there are people with arthritis who aren’t active at all, there are those who push beyond their limits. The trick is to pace your activities. Overdoing it is just as harmful as underdoing it.
Pushing your limits can increase pain and put you at higher risk of joint damage. Respect pain and choose activities with your physical limitations in mind.
Exercise: Rx For Overcoming Osteoarthritis
Exercising may be the last thing you want to do when your joints are stiff and achy. But exercise is a crucial part of osteoarthritis treatment in order to ease pain and stay active.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic and progressive disease characterized by loss of the cartilage that covers and protects the ends of the bones where they meet at a joint. Without this protective coating, bone rubs against bone, causing irritation and inflammation. The result is pain and stiffness in the joint and often pain in the muscles and ligaments that surround it.
Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Nearly equal numbers of women and men have the condition, but women tend to develop symptoms after age 55, about 10 years later than men do. It most often affects the hips, knees, spine, and hands.
Because most people diagnosed with osteoarthritis are older about half of those over 65 have it to some degree it’s long been considered a normal part of aging that reflects a lifetime of wear and tear on cartilage. But experts now know that many factors besides age are involved. Osteoarthritis risk can be inherited. An injury or disease may also kick off the deterioration. The rate of progression depends on genetics, biomechanical forces, and biological and chemical processes, all of which vary from person to person.
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Stop Withholding Info From Your Healthcare Provider
It’s tempting not to tell your healthcare provider everything, especially if you’re afraid you’ll have to go through unpleasant testing or have to change the treatment regimen you’re comfortable with.
But in order for your healthcare provider to have the best chance of helping you, he needs to know everything. Talk openly about what makes your condition better or worse, what concerns you have, and what you don’t understand.
But There Are Things You Can Do To Help Prevent Arthritis From Occurring Or Getting Worse
- Lose weight. If you’re overweight, losing some pounds will take some of the stress off your joints. It may also increase your mobility.
- Exercise. Consistent exercise and remaining physically active can help keep your joints flexible and sturdy. Try low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling or low-impact aerobics. They put much less stress on your weight-bearing joints.
- Protect your joints. Be mindful to rest your joints. The daily strain of sitting or standing all day, lifting heavy things at work or around the house, and even wearing high heels can cause damage to your joints over time.
If you have concerns about arthritis and the health of your joints, be sure to consult with your health care provider for medical advice.
Arthritis is the topic in this episode of “Speaking of Health”:
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