Protect Those Joints

Osteoarthritis is challenging, but some simple steps can slow the progression and keep you on the move longer.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, affecting one in five people. In this degenerative disease, the joint cartilage wears down over time, leading to pain and stiffness.

While OA can strike at any age, it’s more common in older people. When it occurs in younger people, it may be due to one of the following:

  • Genetic defect. Some people have a genetic defect in their joint cartilage.
  • Joint injury. Damage can occur from sports or work-related repetitive use.
  • Medical conditions. Psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and hemophilia can lead to OA.

The good news is that you can protect your joints and slow the progression by

  • Maintaining a healthy weight. Extra pounds increase the stress on joints.
  • Staying active. Regular exercise helps reduce stiffness and joint pain and promotes feelings of well-being.
  • Tuning in to your body’s signals. Learn to recognize when your body needs to slow down during your daily activities.

Additionally, you should see an orthopedic specialist who can recommend treatment options if your arthritis is affecting every day activities. While many people with OA may eventually need joint replacement surgery, a combination of medication and/or physical therapy to help preserve the joints and manage pain may help delay or prevent the need for surgery.

To improve your outlook — and possibly your pain — consider these tips:

  • Focus on what you can do to solve problems, rather than what you can’t do or can’t control.
  • Build a support system of people who are important to you.
  • Learn techniques to cope with stress.
  • Find an exercise you like to do and stick with it. Try low-impact exercise such as biking, swimming or water aerobics.

Questions

What is one way you could increase your physical activity today? Who could you ask to tag along with you for a daily walk or trip to the local pool?

Make your bathroom safer by adding non-slip mats or rubber decals to your tub, keeping the floor around your tub dry and using a non-skid bath mat outside the tub.