Arthritis is joint inflammation causing pain and stiffness, and any joint may be affected. What is a joint? A joint is any part of the body where two bones meet (knees, elbows, etc.) Other tissues near the joints may be involved (tendons, ligaments and muscles). Depending on the kind of arthritis (broadly classified as inflammatory or wear-and-tear), generalized symptoms may occur.
The medical term for the most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. As a normal part of the aging process, the cushion in between the joints (cartilage) wears away. This leads to several other joint changes that unfortunately may cause pain, stiffness and or difficulties with using the joint.
We use our joints on a regular basis. The older the person, the more wear and tear occurs. While we cannot stop the aging process, nor can we prevent osteoarthritis, you can help diminish the amount of damage to your joints. By doing so, it is a possibility that this condition will progress more slowly.
By taking good care of yourself, you can help this condition progress more slowly.
- Weight loss. Being overweight leads to faster wear and tear of the joints. By being overweight, your back, hips, knees, ankles and feet are working overtime. Your healthcare provider can educate you on safe ways to lose weight, which can decrease the extra stress on your joints. Generally, changing your eating habits is a good way to start your weight loss journey.
- Exercise. By keeping the muscles above and below the joints strong, less stress is placed on the joints. You may achieve this by exercising. Exercise is an important part of preventing and managing wear-and-tear arthritis. An ideal goal would be at least 30 minutes on most days, of low-impact and aerobic exercise.
Keep these two tips in mind while maintaining physical activity.
- Remember to warm up and stretch. If you damage your joints by trauma or injury, the risk of faster wear and tear may occur. A proper warmup and flexibility exercises are important aspects of preventing joint injury during exercise. Be thoughtful of your daily activities as some activities put extra stress on joints.
- Take rest days. Persistent joint pain after activity or exercise may be a sign of overuse. Allow the joint to rest. Try cold compresses to relief pain. An evaluation by a physical therapist can tailor an ideal exercise routine to protect your joints.
Following these tips can help you prevent or manage arthritis. Always remember to consult a medical professional before starting any weight loss or exercise program.
Schedule a rheumatology appointment with Ochsner Health.