You’ve seen older adults have trouble moving and know that arthritis is associated with age. You’re wondering if it can be prevented.
Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons and physical therapy team at Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine treat many patients who have arthritis symptoms and help relieve the pain and stiffness associated with it.
Can arthritis be prevented? The answer is no, but there are ways to reduce your risk and lessen painful symptoms if you do develop it.
Arthritis comes in more than 100 forms. The most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers believe they develop from a mix of genetic and environmental factors.
There are common risk factors for arthritis. Familiarize yourself with them so you can minimize those that are associated with lifestyle.
Genetic risk factors for arthritis
Your genes, sex, and age are contributing factors in developing arthritis. If close relatives have arthritis, you’re at increased risk of developing it.
Women are more prone to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men, while more men develop gout, another form of arthritis. Aging also increases your risk of arthritis.
Lifestyle risk factors
Lifestyle risk factors for common forms of arthritis include obesity, smoking, and traumatic injuries. Some of what you eat and drink can worsen symptoms.
You can control some of your risk for developing arthritis. Here’s how:
Maintain a normal weight
If you’re overweight or obese, you’re at higher risk for arthritis than someone with a normal weight. That’s an extra incentive to shed unwanted pounds.
Being overweight or obese heaps increased stress on your joints. When you walk, you place 1½ times your body weight on your knees. Let’s put that in perspective. If you weigh 200 pounds, you’re putting 300 pounds of pressure on your knees as you walk.
The extra weight stresses the cartilage that surrounds the ends of your bones. This loss of cartilage leaves you more likely to have bone-on-bone contact in your hips and knees, making joint replacement necessary. The vertebrae in your spine and your other joints can also be affected.
We can recommend weight cessation programs if you can’t lose weight on your own. Medically supervised weight loss is a good option.
Get regular exercise
It can seem counterintuitive to try to exercise when you have arthritis, but the adage “move it or lose it” applies here. Once we’ve calmed inflammation from your arthritis, it’s important to start moving.
Regular low-impact exercise keeps the muscles around your joints strong so you’re well supported. Moving your joints brings needed lubrication to the cartilage around them, making it easier to move.
Exercise gives you energy and lessens fatigue. Find a physical activity you enjoy, whether it’s simply walking with your earbuds in, swimming, cycling, or another low-impact activity.
If you smoke, you’re at high risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis, for it becoming severe, and for drugs to be less effective in easing your symptoms. Smoking also worsens symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Smokers have higher-than-normal carbon monoxide levels in the bloodstream, possibly leading to weakened cartilage.
Eat a healthy diet
Did you know that what you eat can increase inflammation in your body, making your arthritis worse? Cut down on sugary cakes, cookies, and sodas. Eat fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, lots of leafy greens, nuts and berries. Try consuming green tea, which helps control inflammation.
If you have arthritis or unexplained joint pain, call Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in West Memphis, Arkansas, or Collierville, Tennessee, today, or book an appointment through our online portal anytime. We’ll get you moving again.