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Arthritis Prevention Strategies?

As there is no single cause of arthritis, there is also no single means of arthritis prevention. Variables such as gender and age cannot be modified, but other variables can be controlled. Here is what you can do to help reduce the onset of arthritis symptoms.




Control Your Weight

Minimizing weight can reduce forces directed to weight bearing joints. Weight control can have a variety of health benefits, including reducing the risk of osteoarthritis. Once arthritis symptoms develop it can be difficult to exercise to help control weight, thus take a preventative outlook in minimizing the effects of being overweight or obese.


Healthy Diet

Mom always told us to eat our fruits and vegetables. She was right. There has long been a relationship between the role of antioxidants and arthritis.

Why? Antioxidants have an anti-inflammatory affect on the body. Our body naturally produces compounds called free radicals. As free radicals become overly abundant in our body, they produce a state called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been linked to many chronic diseases including arthritis. The role of antioxidants is to neutralize free radicals, thus minimizing the condition of oxidative stress.


fruits


Deep colored fruits and vegetables are our best source of antioxidants, thus it is important to eat a diet rich with these foods. As oxidative stress is reduced, so is inflammation in the body.

Not only does eating those fruits and vegetables reduce oxidative stress, they also help provide the nutrients your body needs for healing. Giving your body the nutrients it needs helps to support your immune system, provides the nutrients for healing, and helps to provide the energy to fuel an active lifestyle.

In addition to eating a diet rich with fruits and vegetables, another component of an arthritis prevention diet is minimizing red meat intake and maximizing the intake of omega-3 fatty acid foods such as salmon. Increasing omega-3 in your diet can help to reduce the inflammatory process associated with arthritis.


Pump Some Iron

It is not uncommon for people to say “my x-rays show that my right knee is bone-on-bone, but it’s my left knee that hurts!” How could this be? X-rays tell only part of the story.

Our muscles act as shock absorbers. When muscles are strong, they function to absorb shock, minimizing the stress directed to the joint. Doing so minimizes pain. Many can have x-rays that indicate significant arthritis yet experience no pain, simply because the muscles surrounding the joint are strong. By incorporating strength training into your lifetime exercise routine, arthritis prevention can be an achievable goal.


man lifting weights


If you've never done any strengthening exercises, seek the help of a professional such as a physical therapist or personal trainer. As important as it is to start a strengthening program, it is equally important to not injure yourself.


Protect Joints

Muscles are not the only means of protecting joints from abnormal stress. For weight bearing joints such as feet, ankles, knees, and hips, proper shoe wear can be invaluable.

Joint protection strategies can also be important. Minimize deep squatting to protect knees and hips, avoid kneeling when possible, repetitive bending should be minimized to reduce low back stress, and maintain proper posture when standing and sitting to avoid abnormal joint positions. The use of gadgets such as jar openers can reduce hand joint stress.

Finally, do not hesitate to ask for help when needed.

The goal of arthritis prevention is to affect those variables over which you have control. Control your weight, eat a diet rich in antioxidants, include strength training exercises into your fitness routine, and protect your joints with good shoes and property body mechanics. Daily disciplines go a long way in preventing arthritis symptoms.



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References

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2011 Mar;23(2):211-8.Exercise: necessary but not sufficient for improving function and preventing disability?Keysor JJ, Brembs

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2010 Sep;22(5):520-7.What can we learn about osteoarthritis by studying a healthy person against a person with early onset of disease?Ding C, Jones G, Wluka AE, Cicuttini F.

Clin Geriatr Med. 2010 Aug;26(3):371-86.Age-related changes in the musculoskeletal system and the development of osteoarthritis.Loeser RF

Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2011 Feb;37(1):119-33. Epub 2010 Dec 4.Role of diet in rheumatic disease.Li S, Micheletti R.