Women health

Slowing the Progression of Osteoarthritis

Learn how to make healthy lifestyle choices to relieve joint discomfort and prevent OA from worsening.

Osteoarthritis (OA) was formerly thought to be a condition in which joints simply wore out due to a long and active life. However, research has revealed that OA is a multifaceted condition with numerous causes. Experts say it's not an unavoidable feature of aging, but rather the outcome of a complex set of circumstances, many of which may be altered or avoided. Here is some doctor advice for reducing the risk of OA or delaying the development of the disease.

Keep your weight in check     

Weight gain puts extra strain on weight-bearing joints including the hips and knees. Each pound you acquire stresses your knees by nearly four pounds and puts six times more pressure on your hips. The additional stress wears down the cartilage that cushions these joints, which worsens over time.

Mechanical stress, however, is not the sole issue. Cytokines are proteins produced by fat tissue that induce inflammation throughout the body. Cytokines degrade tissue in the joints by changing the function of cartilage cells. Your body produces and releases more of these harmful proteins as you gain weight. Unless you're really overweight, dropping a few pounds can help relieve joint pain.

Blood Sugar Management

High blood sugar (glucose) levels hasten the synthesis of chemicals that stiffen cartilage and make it more susceptible to mechanical stress. Diabetes can also cause systemic inflammation, which causes cartilage to deteriorate. The newly identified link between diabetes and joint deterioration could help to explain why more than half of all diabetics also have arthritis.

Physical examination

Physical activity is the most effective treatment for OA currently available. It's also one of the most effective techniques to keep joints in good condition in the first place. Even 30 minutes of moderately strenuous exercise five times a week keeps joints limber and muscles that support and stabilize your hips and knees strong. Exercise also strengthens the heart and lungs, lowers the risk of diabetes, and aids weight loss.

You don't need to join a gym or follow a certain training routine to reap the benefits. Walking, gardening and even washing floors are all acceptable forms of exercise. However, the best outcomes come from a continuous and progressive exercise regimen tailored to your age, fitness level, and favorite hobbies.

Listen to your body no matter what form of workout you do. If you feel the pain that lasts longer than an hour or two after an exercise, perform less the next time and take more rest. To avoid damage, start slowly and don't practice the same workout every day until you understand how your body reacts to a new activity.

Joints should be protected

Although injuries cannot always be avoided, it is important to protect your joints and keep OA from worsening. Lift and carry with your largest, strongest joints at home or at work, and take pauses as needed. Maintaining a healthy weight after an injury can help prevent further joint damage.

Make a healthy lifestyle choice

Some OA risk factors are unavoidable. For example, OA becomes more common as people age, presumably due to a decrease in the number of cartilage cells. Because more women than males get OA beyond the age of 50, lower estrogen levels after menopause may possibly play a role. Furthermore, some people are born with genes that make them more susceptible to OA.

The Final Word

Ultimately, the best defense against any disease, including OA, is a healthy lifestyle. Diet, exercise, sleep, managing stress, and whether you smoke, or drink can have a tremendous influence on overall health, and the health of your joints.





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