Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic disease that affects the joints of the body. It is the most common type of arthritis. It affects more than 27 million Americans. OA causes the person affected to have painful and stiff joints as a result of the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. People with this condition therefore suffer from limited mobility and sometimes swelling of the joints. If you or a loved one is experiencing painful, stiff or swollen joints contact Chris Boone, a specialist in orthopedic surgery & sports medicine, for a comprehensive examination and conclusive diagnosis of your condition.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
Wear and tear of joints is normal as our joints are exposed to the stress and strains associated with moving around daily. The body even has natural repair mechanisms that ensure the repair of damage to the joints. Many people therefore do not experience the symptoms of wear and tear on the joints.
However, for those affected by OA, the cartilage that sits on the ends of the bones to facilitate efficient movement and prevent wear and tear of the bones, breaks down. This results in pain, swelling, stiffness and other problems around the joint. While the exact cause of this condition is not known, there are several factors that put you at greater risk of developing the condition. These include:
When a joint is injured, it is important to give it enough time to heal prior to using it. Overusing a joint before it has had the opportunity to heal will result in injury and could also result in the development of OA.
As we age, our bodies break down faster than they can repair themselves. You may therefore experience more wear on your joints.
If you have a history of OA in the family, there is a chance that you could develop the condition.
You can develop OA as a result of other conditions such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis
If you’re overweight, the excess weight places excessive stress on your joints especially the knees and hips.
OA is more common amongst women than it is amongst men.
Can You Prevent Osteoarthritis?
The actual cause of OA is not well known. However, with a good understanding of the risk factors listed above, you can work to help reduce the stress on your joints and thus reduce your risk of developing the condition. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Maintain a healthy body weight
You can reduce the stress on your joints by getting rid of the excess fat. A good way to determine whether you could do with losing some weight is by checking your body mass index. Keep your body weight within the health range to reduce the strain on your joints. If you’re already experiencing knee pain, you should talk to your healthcare provider to determine safe ways to lose weight without straining your knees.
2. Keep your blood sugar levels low
High blood sugar is also a risk factor for developing OA. If you want to lower your risk of developing the condition, you should work on lowering your blood sugar levels. If you suffer from diabetes, it is even more important to keep your blood sugar levels at a healthy range. You should consult your healthcare provider and have your blood sugar levels checked at regular intervals. You can also discuss ways of managing your blood sugar levels with your healthcare provider. These may involve a change in diet.
3. Increase your level of activity
This may sound counterproductive as activity places stress on the joints. However, being sedentary will make your joints stiff. It will also weaken the muscles that support the joints and put you at greater risk of developing OA. You should make it a goal to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. Talk to your healthcare provider about safe exercises that you can carry out. They could be anything including walking.
4. Prevent joint injuries
The occurrence of joint injuries increases your risk of developing OA. You should therefore work to prevent injury to your joints. This means you should start slow when exercising. You should work up to your goal. Be sure to warm up for at least 5 minutes with more gentle movements as well as dynamic stretches. This gets your muscles, joints and ligaments warmed up and ready for more strenuous movements.
Engage in a variety of exercises. Changing things up on a day to day basis will ensure you hit different parts of the body and help you avoid placing strain on any particular joint.
If you are experiencing joint pain, stiffness or other mobility issues contact Dr. Chris Boone for diagnosis of your health condition.