Can Osteoarthritis Be Prevented?

An active lifestyle does not doom you to a future that includes osteoarthritis. This joint disorder that causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in places like your knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders is not an inevitable part of aging. There’s a lot you can do to prevent osteoarthritis or, if you have it, to slow its progression.

Osteoarthritis describes the degradation of the cartilage in your joints. Cartilage provides a cushion between adjacent bones, so when it wears down and bone rubs against bone, you experience pain and a compromised range of motion.

Read on to learn how you can make changes to your lifestyle to avoid developing osteoarthritis.

Maintain a healthy weight

When you’re overweight or obese, you’re at a much greater risk for developing osteoarthritis. Carrying extra weight puts excessive pressure on your joints, especially those that bear your weight.

A single pound gained adds four pounds of stress to your knees, and your cartilage breaks down in response to this extra pressure. Plus, the inflammation caused by excessive fat tissue also contributes to the degradation of cartilage.

Live an active lifestyle

Using your joints is a fabulous way to keep them healthy and functioning. Do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days to keep your muscles strong and your joints lubricated, offering increased stability to your joints. Walking, jogging, and gardening are all examples of effective physical exercise.

Keep your blood sugar in check

Diabetes, a disease in which your body has trouble controlling your blood sugar levels, is a risk factor for osteoarthritis. When your blood sugar is not maintained and is regularly too high, your body is more likely to produce certain molecules that actually contribute to cartilage dysfunction. These molecules make cartilage stiffer, so it’s less cushiony and more sensitive to the stress caused by everyday activities.

Protect yourself from injury

Cartilage isn’t good at healing. Injured joints are seven times more likely to become arthritic than ones that have never been injured. Accidents happen, but take precautions to avoid unnecessary injury. Don’t push your body beyond its limits, wear protective gear when you engage in sports, and use proper technique when lifting heavy objects.

Remember osteoarthritis does have some unavoidable risk factors

While you can do a lot to reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis, some risk factors are just not changeable. For example, your risk of arthritis increases with age, as your cartilage tends to break down from natural wear-and-tear. Women are also at greater risk of osteoarthritis once they pass through menopause and their production of the hormone estrogen decreases. Osteoarthritis also has a genetic component.

If you have these unavoidable risk factors, that’s all the more reason to follow the lifestyle recommendations that can help reduce your chances of developing the disease.

Osteoarthritis has no cure, but you can reduce your risk and possibly even prevent its development. At Valerius Medical Group, Dr. Nathaniel Neal and Dr. Rebekah Neal-Kraal provide support and treatment for osteoarthritis patients.

Call or visit the office in Los Alamitos, California to consult with the doctors and preserve your joint health. You can also request an appointment online.

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