Osteoarthritis affects millions of people throughout the world.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It occurs when protective cartilage cushioning the end of your bones wears down. In general, arthritis causes inflammation and pain in the joints, and there are around 100 different types.
The areas most commonly affected include your knees, hands, hips, and spine.
You can manage your symptoms once you develop it, but some people with osteoarthritis have to undergo surgery. For example, hip replacements may increase mobility and reduce pain for someone with osteoarthritis but can have serious complications.
The following are things to know to reduce your risk of eventually developing osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis
Some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis a person may experience include pain, stiffness, and tenderness. Other symptoms are loss of flexibility, a grating feeling when a joint is used, bone spurs, and swelling. Osteoarthritis is more common as we age, but it’s not inevitable. You can take steps that will help you lessen your likelihood of developing it, and many of the steps you can take are good for your all-around health and wellness.
Maintain a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is probably one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of osteoarthritis.
Obesity is a risk factor for developing the condition. One study found obese women were almost four times as likely as non-obese women to have osteoarthritis. The risk for obese men was almost five times higher than it was for non-obese men.
When you’re overweight, it puts strain on your joints, and especially the joints that are weight-bearing like the knees and hips. This leads to the erosion of cartilage.
If you can reduce your body weight by as little as 5%, it may reduce the stress on your hips, lower back, and knees.
When you have weak muscles, particularly in areas such as the front of the thighs, you may be at a higher risk of knee osteoarthritis. If you can build the strength of your muscles even a little, it can reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.
Particularly focus on strengthening your quadriceps, but exercise, in general, can help.
If you already have some joint pain, you can do exercises like swimming or cycling, putting the least amount of pressure and weight on your joints. If you already have osteoarthritis and you’re looking for ways to reduce the symptoms, talk to your doctor about the best types of exercise for you.
Try to avoid injuries
If you’re in your 40s or 50s now, try to avoid getting injuries. You can reduce the risk of injuries by using proper form when you exercise or play any type of sports.
When you’re jumping, for example, land with bent knees. Always warm-up and cool down before and after exercising. Wear the right shoes for stability and shock absorption, and don’t bend your knees past 90 degrees.
Exercise on the softest surfaces available.
If you had many injuries when you were younger, these might put you at greater risk for osteoarthritis later on.
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet can help you reduce your risk of osteoarthritis because you may be able to maintain a healthy weight better. Certain nutrients play a specific role in joint health.
Make sure you get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon, and some nut and plant oils. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation throughout your body, including joint inflammation. Unhealthy fats, on the other hand, can increase inflammation.
Some studies have found vitamin D can help reduce pain if you already have osteoarthritis, and it may help reduce your risk of developing it if you don’t.
Your body makes most of the vitamin D you need in response to sunlight. However, as you get older, it becomes more difficult for your body to synthesize vitamin D from the sun. You can also get it from your diet by adding fatty fish and foods fortified with vitamin D. You might consider a vitamin D supplement as well.
Finally, think about seasoning your food with turmeric. It is an anti-inflammatory, so it may help reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis. If you already have joint pain, it may also help with that.