Nearly a quarter of all adults in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, along with the painful symptoms it causes. While there are more than 100 types of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is by far the most common, which is caused by wear and tear inside the joint.
Not surprisingly, that wear and tear becomes more common with age as years of physical activity take their toll. However, there are things you can do to help prevent arthritis from developing. And, if you already have the condition, there are things you can do to reduce the symptoms and keep the condition from getting worse.
David Berkower, DO, and the team at Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation in Pembroke Pines, Florida, are experts in helping patients deal with joint pain and arthritis. In this blog, Dr. Berkower explains what you can do to limit or even prevent arthritis symptoms as you age.
Arthritis and aging
While some types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, are caused by immune system problems, osteoarthritis is a degenerative, progressive disease that happens when the protective layer of cartilage that lines the surfaces of your joints starts to break down.
As the cartilage thins, this can lead to irritation and inflammation inside the affected joints. The symptoms usually manifest as joint pain, stiffness, reduced range of motion, and swelling.
The reason why OA becomes more common with age is because by the time we reach middle age and beyond, our joints have been subjected to millions of movements. Over time, all that activity can take a toll on the joints and the joint surfaces.
Without proper management, arthritis almost certainly becomes worse as joint damage progresses. Eventually, arthritis can make it difficult to do simple daily activities, such as walking, climbing the stairs, or getting up from a sitting position. Fortunately, there are steps you can take that can help you avoid severe symptoms.
Tips to help prevent or reduce arthritis symptoms
Arthritis can’t always be completely prevented, but there are things you can do to reduce your risk of developing arthritis or slow the progression of the disease.
Extra pounds means extra strain on your weight-bearing joints. In fact, experts say that if you’re 10 pounds overweight, every step you take puts an added 30-40 pounds of pressure on your knees. Your hips, spine joints, and joints in your feet and ankles are also affected by added weight.
Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce stress on your joints, which can reduce your risk of damaging your cartilage. Losing weight can also decrease inflammation in your joints.
Be more active
Your joints contain a special fluid that bathes your joints’ surfaces and helps your joints move smoothly. Regular physical activity can help this fluid remain distributed inside your joints, which can reduce inflammation and joint damage. Plus, being active can also help you maintain a healthy weight.
Modify your activities
While regular activity plays a key role in preventing or managing arthritis, it’s also important to choose the right activities. Generally, that means avoiding high-impact activities, such as running or sports that require jumping or quick changes of direction. These actions can put added strain on your joints, which could increase joint damage.
Walking, swimming, yoga, and bicycling can all be good choices. During your arthritis evaluation, Dr. Berkower can identify activities that can help you glean the benefits without risking additional damage.
Smoking isn’t just bad for your lungs, it’s bad for your joints, too. Smoking decreases circulation to your joints, and it increases inflammation as well. Quitting isn’t easy, but Dr. Berkower can help. You can also find tips to help you quit at this site and this site.
Seek treatment early
One of the best ways to prevent arthritis damage as you get older is to visit Dr. Berkower as soon as you notice joint discomfort or stiffness — or even before symptoms occur. By acting proactively, you can incorporate lifestyle changes that can protect your joints and prevent cartilage damage.
Make arthritis treatment a priority
No matter what age you are or what symptoms you’re currently experiencing, arthritis management can bring positive changes to your life. Using a combination of lifestyle changes and cutting-edge arthritis therapies, Dr. Berkower and his team can develop a treatment plan to help you keep your joints as healthy as possible.
To learn how we can help you prevent arthritis pain as you get older, call 954-430-9972 or book an appointment online with Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation today.