Osteoarthritis is a common condition that affects joints of the body. It causes structural changes within a joint or multiple joints, resulting in pain and loss of function.
Osteoarthritis is associated with a number of factors, including genetic, mechanical, hormonal and inflammatory factors. It is not just a disease of ageing or an ‘older persons’ disease, which means there are things that you can do to lower your risk of developing the condition.
Any joint in the body can be affected by osteoarthritis. Most commonly, it is the larger weight-bearing joints, such as knees and hips, that are most affected.
Here are some of the ways that you can lower your chances of developing osteoarthritis.
Maintaining a healthy weight
People who are overweight or obese are strongly encouraged to lose weight. Excess weight can stress your joints and wear away the soft cartilage at the end of your bones more easily. Also, extra fat on your body may release chemicals than can inflame joints, which can also lead to osteoarthritis. Your doctor will be able to tell you the right weight range for your body size and age.
Not only does exercise help to maintain a healthy weight, it also can increase your level of mobility and help stave off osteoarthritis. A health professional such as an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist can provide you with an individualised exercise program that is tailored to your needs.
Appropriate exercise for osteoarthritis includes strength training, stretching, aerobic and balance programs. Such programs can be undertaken at home or as part of a group, and depending upon your preference you can do them on land or in water.
Prepare properly for exercise
Don’t just jump straight into the deep end when it comes to exercising. You should always loosen up muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints before exerting yourself physically to avoid doing a serious injury, but a good warm-up before any strenuous activity also helps prevent osteoarthritis.
Also start any new exercise activity slowly before picking up the pace to protect against suffering a cartilage injury.
Eat more fish
Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and cod, can help lessen inflammation that can be hard on your joints.
Do you suffer from osteoarthritis? What do you do to alleviate the symptoms?
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