Fitness & Nutrition

Achy joints – How to Prevent or Minimize the Onset of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition that happens to people as they get older. It is the result of normal wear and tears on your body. Given that the knee is a joint that experiences more wear and tear than other joints, it is very susceptible to osteoarthritis. There are ways to slow osteoarthritis down, but there is no way to cure it once it has taken hold. Some of the risk factors that contribute to osteoarthritis are hereditary, age, diet and lifestyle ideas. From a young age, two of these risk factors that can increase the likelihood of suffering from osteoarthritis later in life are within a person’s control (to a certain point.) Diet and exercise play an important role in how joints support a body later in life. Being overweight or inactive can cause osteoarthritis to set in earlier in life and to a greater degree. Lifestyle ideas also play a great part in whether or not a person develops osteoarthritis when they get older. For example, smoking, drinking alcohol to excess and submitting the body to dangerous or injury causing activities can cause osteoarthritis to set in later in life. Playing sports without proper safety equipment, especially later in life, can contribute heavily to osteoarthritis in the knee.  

Exercise can help prevent osteoarthritis of the knee, as well as lessen its symptoms. Leg extensions which work the quadriceps muscles help alleviate pressure on the knee joint. To do these, one sits in a chair with their knees bent and their feet flat on the floor. Then lift the right foot off the floor and extend it so that it is straight in front of the body. Hold the position for a few seconds and gently place the foot on the floor. Repeat with the other leg. Do this exercise for 10 to 15 repetitions per leg. Done daily, this exercise can help prevent worsening of knee osteoarthritis. It is important to make lifestyle ideas that allow time for exercises such as this. Low impact exercises such as walking and swimming also help prevent or lessen the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. These exercises do not place a great strain on the muscles but allow for stretching and movement of the joints.

Again, it is important to maintain lifestyle ideas that allow time for this type of exercise. Not only is it beneficial to preventing knee osteoarthritis, but these exercises are generally health inducing and good for the body, mind, and soul. Maintaining a healthy diet, from an early age and later in life, is one of the greatest ways to either prevent or reduce the progression of osteoarthritis. The joints have to support the body’s weight from the time a person wakes up in the morning until they go to sleep at night. Every pound of body weight puts pressure on joints such as the knee. Making lifestyle ideas that foster a healthy body weight may be the greatest way to prevent osteoarthritis. One form of exercise that is often said to be beneficial to one’s health but can actually make an elderly person more likely to develop osteoarthritis is walking up and down stairs rather than taking an escalator or elevator. As a young person, and even in middle age, it is indeed good for a person to take the stairs whenever it is an option. It helps burn calories and keep the body’s metabolism up. However, for an elderly person, this causes unnecessary impact and pressure on the joints, especially the knee. This, in turn, can cause or increase the severity of osteoarthritis of the knee. If a person fears they may have or are developing osteoarthritis of the knee or any other joint, there are symptoms he or she can look for. Some of these symptoms are the pain when walking or climbing stairs; pain when laying down; inflammation of the knee or joints; or body or muscle stiffness after sitting for a period of time; creaking or crunching noises when the knee is moving or bending. If someone notices some or all of these symptoms, it is important that they see their doctor or even an orthopedic specialist see if they may have osteoarthritis of the knee. Osteoarthritis cannot be cured. It does not go away. However, it can be prevented and its progress can be slowed with proper diet, exercise, and lifestyle ideas. There are many things a person can do to decrease their chances of suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee when they get older.  

Once it sets in, there is not much to do other than slow it down. Unfortunately, by this point, there may be a level of pain or discomfort that cannot be avoided or reversed. It is, therefore, very important that everyone make lifestyle ideas that help prevent it in the first place.