Osteoarthritis Living With Arthritis Prevention

Osteoarthritis can’t be prevented in all instances. Research suggests that age, obesity and genetics can play a role in osteoporosis development. If you have risk factors or a family history of osteoarthritis, you should see a doctor regularly to check for signs of the condition and to get tips on prevention.

That being said, there are some things that people can do to help prevent development of osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis Explained

Osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of the tissue on the joints. This tissue is called cartilage. When cartilage breaks down, it causes bones to rub against one another, creating pain and difficulty moving the joint. The disease can be mild or severe and can affect one area or multiple areas of the body.

Osteoarthritis usually affects the following areas:

  • feet
  • hands
  • hips
  • knees
  • spine.

The disease can also affect a number of joints. While there is no single cause of osteoarthritis, the condition most often affects older adults and is more likely to affect women than men.

Osteoarthritis Prevention

In order to decrease your risk for developing osteoarthritis, there are a few things you can do. These steps will not guarantee that osteoarthritis will be prevented, but they will be beneficial to your health.

  • Get enough exercise: Getting regular exercise can help with reducing joint pain and joint stiffness. Activities that provide light to moderate exercise are the best. Swimming, bicycling and a number of other activities are acceptable. If exercise is too stressful, you may consider adding hot or cold therapy (using heat packs or ice packs) to your post-workout routine. Ask your doctor which exercises are ideal for you.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight: Extra weight on the body puts extra strain on the joints and, therefore, increases a person’s chance of developing osteoarthritis. Each extra pound of weight puts 3 pounds of strain on the joints. Some studies also suggest that extra weight alters the structure of the joint itself, further increasing risk of osteoarthritis.
  • Prevent accidents and injuries: Work to protect joints from even minor injuries that can come from squatting or frequent kneeling. Ask your doctor about activities that can put too much strain on the knees and hips and avoid these activities when possible.
  • Prevent osteoporosis: Take vitamins, calcium and supplements to prevent osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor about possible medications that can aid in osteoporosis prevention.

The most effective osteoarthritis prevention technique is to combine regular exercise with weight loss. Maintaining an ideal body weight for your size and giving your body regular activity is very important for countless aspects of your health. Exercise and weight loss can not only help prevent osteoarthritis and other problems, but they can also aid in restoring motion and function and even decrease existing aches and pains.

People who have knee injuries as children or young adults are at an increased risk for developing osteoarthritis, so if you fall into this category, following these prevention tips is even more important. Physical therapy and knee braces should be used if necessary, and excessive strain should be avoided.

Resources

Everyday Health (2006). Osteoarthritis. Prevention Retrieved October 9, 2007, from the Everyday Health Web site: http://www.everydayhealth.com/publicsite/index.aspx?puid=3DA46228-905A-47BB-BB1C-A8478D57422B