The Arthritis Foundation tells us 27 million Americans suffer from OA, and it’s the most common condition of the joints. If you have osteoarthritis, we don’t have to tell you about the stiffness and discomfort, nor do we need to cite the loss of mobility. If you are beginning to feel joint stiffness, pay attention to these 7 ways to protect your joints and prevent osteoarthritis.
What You Can’t Do
Let’s begin by telling you what you can’t do to prevent osteoarthritis. You can’t stop the clock and you can’t change your family history. It’s also fairly difficult to change your gender.
Your age, gender, and family history all play a part in your risk factors for developing osteoarthritis. As we age, our joints suffer from natural wear and tear that often results in quite a bit of stiffness and pain as the cartilage breaks down. If those in your family have had osteoarthritis, then you are at a higher risk of developing it. Plus, it seems more women get OA as they get older. Double jeopardy!
Now that you know what you can’t control, let’s look at what you have within your power to change.
Couch potatoes beware, we are talking to you.
Move, jog, walk, bike, and get involved in any type of movement or exercise that will help to protect your joints and prevent osteoarthritis. It doesn’t matter how serious you are about exercising, as long as you keep moving.
Even if you must sit at a desk all day at work, take breaks and move around each hour or so. Sitting in the same position for too long will encourage stiff joints.
Be Smart About House Cleaning and Cooking
Buy a “newfangled” can opener if you don’t already have one to save those joints. Selecting specific products like no-scrub cleaners for the bathtub and toilet, and spray-on mildew remover works wonders while saving you from wiping. Find other cleaning tools that help you avoid bending and stooping.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Carrying around too many pounds causes unnecessary stress on joints and is one of the biggest risk factors for developing OA. Lose some weight and watch how your pain will be reduced.
Control Your Blood Sugar
High glucose levels can cause stiff joints and trigger inflammation, which increases cartilage loss. Keeping your diabetes under control can help prevent osteoarthritis.
Rest and Keep a Balance
Exercise is great for preventing OA, but overuse of the joints can also wear down the cartilage. If a particular joint is swollen or begins to hurt, give it a rest. Allowing an injured joint to heal properly is key to preventing joint problems in the future.
Talk With Our Physicians About Your Job
If you have a job that requires lifting, twisting, kneeling, or anything that puts constant pressure on your joints, speak with a professional about ways to reduce your risk of developing OA.
Stick With a Balanced Diet
You know the drill and have heard it before, but it bears repeating. Vitamin C, fruits and veggies, Omega 3 fatty acids, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy oils should all be part of your regular menu.
Take control of what you can to protect your joints and prevent osteoarthritis. This small investment of your time and attention right now will be worth a huge relief to your joints later!
Make an appointment with a specialist at New England Work Injury for more suggestions to prevent OA.