Currently, 54.4 million Americans have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis, and this number is projected to increase at an exponential rate. Taking steps to prevent arthritis as early as possible is key. The longer you can keep your joints healthy, the greater the likelihood that you can preserve your mobility and avoid the pain and possible disability caused by arthritis.
There are some arthritis causes (such as aging, genetics, and gender) that remain out of your control, but some steps, like exercising and maintaining a healthy diet, can help delay and prevent the onset of the disease.
As an orthopedic oncologist, Daniel C. Allison, MD, FACS is a physician and surgeon who specializes in both arthritis prevention and arthritis treatment in Los Angeles. There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions, so it is crucial to meet with a skilled orthopedic surgeon to learn about potential risk factors, behaviors, and circumstances that are associated with the disease in order to take steps to reduce or minimize your risks.
As we’ve pointed out, there are some risk factors for developing arthritis that are out of your control. For example, females with a family history of arthritis are at a greater risk of developing osteoarthritis over those that don’t. Fortunately, healthy habits can help mitigate these factors and allow for an overall healthy lifestyle regimen.
The Top 5 Tips for Healthy Joints
1. Include Fish in Your Diet
Certain types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is a healthy polyunsaturated fat that has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. According to the USDA, it’s recommended to eat fish high in omega-3s—like salmon, trout, mackerel, and sardines—twice a week.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Our joints are constructed to allow for different degrees and types of movement. Some joints have the ability to withstand compression and can handle heavy loads for specific periods of time. However, being overweight or obese can increase the pressure on the joints, increasing the risk of developing certain types of arthritis (such as osteoarthritis). Consider this: if you’re just 10 pounds overweight, the force on your knee as you take each step increases by 30 to 60 pounds. This extra weight means that overweight people (women, especially) are four times more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis.
Exercise is beneficial for preventing arthritis in a few ways. First, exercise helps strengthen the supporting muscles found around the joints, which decreases the wear and tear that occurs as a part of normal aging. Exercise also helps reduce the stress and impact that excess weight can have on the joints. To maximize the therapeutic benefit of exercise, it’s recommended to alternate aerobic activities with strength training, while always including some stretching to help maintain flexibility and range of motion.
4. Reduce Injury Risks
Conversely, certain types of injuries can cause the joints to wear out prematurely. In order to avoid injury, it’s important to use appropriate safety equipment when performing tasks or playing sports. For example, proper equipment, adequate training, and safe play can prevent ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears that may lead to osteoarthritis in a few years or even decades later.
5. Use Proper Body Mechanics
Whether you’re sitting at your desk or picking up boxes, it’s important to use proper body mechanics to keep your joints, particularly your back, knees, and hips, in neutral alignment. Preventing strain on your joints can greatly reduce the risks of injury.
BONUS HEALTHY JOINT TIP:
See Your Doctor!
If you believe you’re developing arthritis and are experiencing joint pain and stiffness, it’s important to see an orthopedic specialist for an evaluation, diagnosis, and arthritis treatment plan. Arthritis prevention may include treatments and lifestyle interventions that could reduce your risk of developing the condition or slow its progress and preserve your mobility.
Right now, it is not completely known why some people develop certain types of arthritis. Scientific research continues to search for the root cause of arthritis, but until then, there is still hope that scientific advancements will lead to a breakthrough in prevention and a cure. And with ongoing scientific research, the breakthroughs may be closer than they seem. Until a cure for arthritis is a reality, it’s important to seek the care of a board-certified doctor who can create a sustainable plan for arthritis prevention and/or treatment. Learn more about arthritis, please visit medlineplus.gov.
Contact an Arthritis Expert in Los Angeles
Dr. Daniel C. Allison is a recognized joint expert with extensive experience in treating different types of arthritis. Dr. Allison is committed to providing accessible arthritis prevention and treatment programs that are based on an individual’s unique needs. Contact us today to schedule a personal consultation.
Next, read about the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis.