There are over 100 types of arthritis, and many of them are caused by factors beyond patients’ control. There’s no way to change things like age, gender, and family history, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing people can do to prevent the onset of arthritis. Read on to find out about five effective strategies for reducing the risk of developing joint pain later in life.
- Stay Active
Exercise strengthens people’s muscles, stabilizing the joints and protecting them from unnecessary wear and tear. It’s best to alternate aerobic activities with strength-building exercises and stretching. Those who are already struggling with arthritis symptoms should note that it’s best to stick with low-impact forms of activity. They can learn more from Therapia about stretches, aerobic activities, and strength-building exercises that are appropriate for reducing arthritis symptoms.
- Avoid Injuries
Everyone’s joints start to wear out eventually, but injuries earlier in life can damage the cartilage and cause arthritis to set in earlier. Not all injuries can be avoided, but people of all ages should still take precautions. Wear a seatbelt while riding in the car, use proper safety equipment during sports games, and learn correct techniques for performing tasks like heavy lifting and vigorous exercise.
Repetitive motion injuries can predispose people to develop certain types of arthritis, as well. More specifically, it breaks down cartilage and increases people’s risk of developing osteoarthritis. The best ways to avoid repetitive motion injuries are to take frequent breaks, use ergonomic equipment, and prioritize safe forms of exercise that increase flexibility, strength, and blood flow to the affected areas.
- Control Weight
Arthritis of the knees and hips is more common in overweight and obese populations than it is in people who maintain a healthy weight. Researchers note that obesity is the largest modifiable risk factor for the development of osteoarthritis, with obese subjects experiencing 6.8 times the risk of developing this painful condition compared to their normal-weight peers.
Even an extra 10 pounds of weight can increase the force on the knee by 30 to 60 pounds per step, so don’t assume it’s only severe obesity that causes problems with arthritis. Anyone who is having difficulty controlling his or her weight should speak with a primary care physician about lifestyle interventions and other appropriate options.
- Follow a Joint-Healthy Diet
Certain foods may help to reduce the risk of developing arthritis. More specifically, eating fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce inflammation, lowering consumers’ risks of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Aim to incorporate salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel, or other omega-3-heavy fish into the family’s meal plan at least twice a week.
It’s also wise to avoid inflammatory foods like sugar, artificial trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and processed meats. There’s also evidence that keeping alcohol consumption low can help to reduce inflammation.
- Know When to See a Specialist
Symptoms of arthritis include joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. If patients begin to notice these symptoms, they should speak with their doctors immediately. Getting started with a rheumatologist and a physical therapist early can help to slow the progression of arthritis.
The Bottom Line
There’s no way to control every factor that influences arthritis risk, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t try to adopt joint-healthy habits and lifestyles. It’s easier to reduce arthritis risk than it is to manage the chronic condition after it has already begun to develop, and it’s never too early, or too late, to make positive changes.