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Arthritis is one of the most common ailments in the United States. Most people have heard the term, and the knowledge is that it affects joints and bones. While this has some truth, the term “arthritis” is actually an informal term used to refer to more than 100 different joint diseases. There are many forms of arthritis, and contrary to popular belief, it can affect any age group. One in four adults is affected by some form of arthritis, according to the CDC.
One of the most common forms is osteoarthritis. This disease is caused when tissues (cartilage) at the end of bones begin to wear down, leaving the bones without their protective connective cushion. This can occur with wear and tear from aging or because of injury. Osteoarthritis is degenerative, meaning it will continue to worsen over time, and there is no cure. Common symptoms include joint pain in areas such as the hips, knees, neck, lower back, and/or hands. Stiffness, swelling, and tenderness are also common. An estimated 32.5 million Americans suffer from Osteoarthritis.
We’ve gathered a few strategies for management and prevention of osteoarthritis:
- injury prevention: An ACL tear can lead to osteoarthritis. Job injuries that involved overuse of certain muscles and joints, such as repeated bending/lifting/squatting/etc can also lead to osteoarthritis. Repetitive and excessive wear can lead to damage of connective tissues. Prevent injuries by taking adequate breaks, wearing proper supportive gear, staying hydrated, eating a balanced diet, strength training and exercise, etc.
- weight management: Extra body weight puts strain on the body. Even more damaging though is inflammation. Inflammation can cause joint erosion, according to arthritis.org. Fat cells in the body release a protein that causes inflammation. Excessive amounts of fat become excessive amounts of inflammation-causing-proteins. Excessive weight puts added strain on muscles, joints and ligaments, along with the increase in inflammatory proteins. Maintaining a healthy body weight is important for preventing and managing several types of arthritis.
- physical activity: regular exercise reduces inflammation, helps improve pain management, helps maintain strength and flexibility, is important in maintaining a healthy body weight, and has many other benefits. Walking has been proven to help improve osteoarthritis symptoms, and it’s an easy way to add exercise to your daily life.
As always, self-education and self-effort is absolutely necessary to lead a healthy, full life. At Be Active Be Well we know that the number of potential diseases is high, and that’s a scary reality. Our hope is that the information we share will encourage you to become more informed, ask questions of your health care providers, do your own research, and create a wellness plan that will carry you into a healthier and happier future.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.