Today, we’re going to give you six tips that can help you prevent osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a word that’s commonly associated with aging. After all, we usually assume that this condition only affects older people as a result of the passage of time.
However, did you know that osteoarthritis is a disorder that’s related to the wear and tear of the joints? There are actually several reasons it may show up in people before the age of 35.
In this article, we’ll tell you a little bit more about the condition so you’ll be able to detect it in time. Like most diseases, it can also be prevented if you keep some simple recommendations in mind.
What is Osteoarthritis?
According to the International Osteoarthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that affects both the cartilage and the bone and soft tissues of the joint.
This disease doesn’t just affect one part of the body. Instead, it involves a set of interdependent parts that we all have to take care of: bones, cartilage and tissues.
The goal of joint cartilage is simple: it’s there to make the bones slide between it so they can move easily. However, worn out cartilage exposes the surface of the bone, which causes a lot of pain when it rubs with other bones.
This tends to affect the most used joints, such as the hands and spine, as well as those that support a lot of weight, like the hips and knees.
The elderly, athletes and people who perform manual labor are the groups that are most commonly at risk.
What Are the Symptoms?
Among the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis are:
- Joint pain and stiffness,
- Prominent swelling at the joints,
- Cracking or squeaking when moving the joints,
- Decreased joint function.
What are its Causes?
While it’s true that there are many reasons one may suffer from this condition, these are the most common:
- Sedentary lifestyle,
- Excessive physical activity,
- Mechanical changes in the body,
- Injuries and microtrauma,
- Weakening of the cartilage as a result of a poor diet.
Although it also has a genetic component, the most common causes are related to lifestyle habits. Obesity is the main cause, so it’s important that you’re feeding your body a healthy diet from a young age. Obese children are prone to osteoarthritis throughout their lives.
Although it may seem ironic, too much exercise can also cause osteoarthritis. Of course, this is only if the exercise is very intense and if it’s done in excess. Athletes like boxers, soccer players and weightlifters tend to develop osteoarthritis over time.
How is it Diagnosed?
Usually a specialist like a rheumatologists, physiotherapists and orthopedists will diagnose osteoarthritis. Normally, it can be detected when the patient starts to experience symptoms and after a physical examination.
Additionally, the specialist may use tests like x-rays in order to measure the severity of the disease and to rule out other joint conditions. After finding out the disease’s severity, the specialist will indicate the appropriate treatment. This will take into account the patient’s physiological characteristics.
In the most severe cases, surgical intervention may be the best option to relieve the symptoms.
Tips to Help You Prevent Osteoarthritis
Like many diseases, osteoarthritis can also be prevented since it’s not strictly related to genetic factors. However, these factors do still have an influence. One’s lifestyle habits are the greatest factors when it comes to this disease.
It’s relatively simple to prevent this disease if you follow these tips:
1. Get informed about the disease
This is important for everyone, not just for people that suffer with the disease. It’s especially important if you’re part of the most common risk groups: women, athletes and people who suffer from obesity.
Knowing everything related to the disease will help you take the necessary precautions to prevent injuries and risk factors for suffering from the disease later on. Also, if one of your relatives is diagnosed, this information will be useful when dealing with their disease.
2. Perform moderate physical activity
Physical activity helps you strengthen your muscles and joints. If you’re an athlete, it’s very important that you’re carrying out your physical activity under a trainer’s supervision.
Additionally, you should go to the doctor periodically so that s/he can check the state of your joints. If you’re just starting out with an exercise routine, it’s also very important to have a professional supervise you.
In addition, you should complement your physical activity with information on how the exercises should be performed. This will help you master each movement without overloading your muscles, bones and tendons.
3. Maintain a balanced diet to prevent obesity
If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight will alleviate the tension on your joints. This, in turn, will slow the onset of osteoarthritis.
Maintaining a balanced diet will allow you to stay at a healthy weight for your age and height. You want a diet that’s rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Reduce your consumption of excess saturated fats, carbohydrates and sugars.
Not only will it help you prevent osteoarthritis, but cardiovascular diseases as well.
4. Maintain a diet rich in supplements that nourish your cartilage
Consuming supplements like hydrolyzed collagen, chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine and hyaluronic acid is ideal for nourishing your cartilage. It’s recommended that you have a diet rich in these supplements, or that you take them as pills.
Some supplements, such as glucosamine, are already produced by the body. However, as you get older, the amount of this supplement in the body drops and the joints weaken. That’s why it’s important to consume it frequently.
5. Avoid heavy loads and repetitive movements with your joints
Constantly putting great force on your joints will weaken them. Therefore, you should limit how often you lift heavy loads, and you should do it very carefully. Similarly, performing repetitive motions with your joints could wear them out, which can result in osteoarthritis.
- If you’re injured and perform demanding activities or jobs, take frequent breaks.
- You can also wear elbow pads and knee pads to help protect your joints and prevent future complications.
6. Wear suitable shoes
You should look for shoes that provide stability when you’re walking and that correctly cushion the soles of your feet. These are the best shoes to help prevent osteoarthritis.
Additionally, you shouldn’t wear high heels too often. While you can still wear heels for special occasions, we don’t recommend wearing them on a daily basis.
This will only cause instability in your body with each step you take. Your chances of falling are much higher. In addition, these shoes don’t absorb the impact between the floor and your foot correctly. Therefore, it could increase your risk of injury.
You Can Prevent Osteoarthritis
Follow these simple tips to help prevent osteoarthritis. Don’t overload your joints and make sure you’re taking care of them.
If you feel pain in your knees, hips or hands, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible. She or he will be able to tell you what the issue might be. Don’t wait until it’s too late.