Arthritis Management: Protect Your Joints!

Nearly 27 million American suffer from osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis. No longer considered just a consequence of aging, researchers now have several candidates when looking for a cause: musculoskeletal defects, genetic defects, obesity, or injury and overuse.

While you may not be able to control a genetic trait or change your knock knees, there are some specific – and simple — things you can do to protect your joints and help prevent OA.

Arthritis Management
  1. Maintain your ideal body weight. The more you weigh, the more stress you place on your joints, especially your hips, knees, back and feet.
  2. Move your body. Exercise protects joints by strengthening the muscles around them. Strong muscles keep your joints from rubbing against one another, wearing down cartilage. Talk to your doctor about an exercise program that works for you.
  3. Grandma was right! Stand up straight. Good posture protects the joints in your neck, back, hips and knees.
  4. Use the big joints. When lifting or carrying, use largest and strongest joints and muscles. This will help you avoid injury and strain on your smaller joints.
  5. Pace yourself. Alternate periods of heavy activity with periods of rest. Repetitive stress on joints for long periods of time can accelerate the wear and tear that causes OA.
  6. Listen to your body. If you are in pain, don’t ignore it. Pain after activity or exercise can be an indication that you have overstressed your joints.
  7. Don’t stay still for long periods of time. Changing positions regularly will decrease the stiffness in your muscles and joints.
  8. Forget the weekend warrior. Don’t engage in activities for which your body isn’t prepared. Ease into new activities slowly and safely. This will reduce the chance of injury.
  9. Wear proper safety equipment to protect your joints, like wrist, knee or elbow pads. Make sure you get safety gear that is comfortable and fits appropriately.
  10. Ask for help when trying to complete a big job. Taxing your joints to finish physical work can lead to pain and increase your chances of OA.
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