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Defying Arthritis: Strategies for Healthy Joints & Pain Prevention

Have you ever experienced joint pain, stiffness, or swelling? It's a common complaint, especially as we get older. Many people tend to believe that arthritis, is just a natural part of aging that we have to accept. But here's the good news: arthritis is not an inevitable consequence of getting older.


In fact, there are practical steps you can take to promote joint health and minimize the impact of this degenerative joint disease. In this article, we'll dive into the causes, risk factors, and simple strategies you can adopt to manage and prevent osteoarthritis.


But first, what is arthritis?


Arthritis is a term used to describe a range of inflammatory joint conditions that can affect people of all ages. These conditions can lead to joint pain, stiffness, and limited mobility.


One of the most common forms of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which typically occurs as a result of wear and tear on the joints over time.


More on osteoarthritis:


Let's start with the basics. Osteoarthritis is a type of degenerative joint disease that tends to affect people over the age of 50, with women being more susceptible. It occurs when the protective cartilage in your joints gradually wears down over time.


Unlike other forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis is not primarily caused by inflammation but rather by the wear and tear that happens to our joints as we go about our daily lives.


Common sites of arthritis:


Arthritis and osteoarthritis can rear its head in various parts throughout the entire body, but it tends to target a few specific joints.


These include:

  1. The cervical spine of the neck

  2. Lumbar spine in the lower back

  3. Hips

  4. Knees

  5. Base of the big toe

  6. Base of the thumb

  7. Fingertip joints (the ones closest to your fingertips)

Symptoms of osteoarthritis:


The telltale signs of osteoarthritis stem from joint inflammation and damage. Here are some common symptoms to watch out for:

  1. Pain during or after movement

  2. Stiffness, especially in the mornings or after periods of inactivity

  3. Decreased function, flexibility, and movement

  4. That grating sensation, popping, or cracking sounds when using a joint

  5. Swelling around the joints due to inflammation

  6. Difficulty performing everyday activities

  7. The presence of bone spurs around affected joints, which feel like hard lumps


Causes and risk factors:


While the exact causes of osteoarthritis remain a bit of a mystery, several factors increase the likelihood of developing the condition.


These include:

  1. Getting older

  2. Being female

  3. Carrying excess weight or obesity

  4. Subjecting joints to repetitive stress from certain occupations or sports activities

  5. Dealing with metabolic conditions like hemochromatosis

  6. Genetics

  7. Inflammation

  8. Having an imbalanced microbiome

  9. Not getting enough vitamin

Managing Arthritis:


While we can't wave a magic wand and make arthritis disappear, we can certainly take steps to manage its symptoms and reduce its impact on our daily lives.


Here are some practical strategies to consider:

  1. Lifestyle Modification:

    • Get moving with balanced and tailored exercise routines. Think swimming, biking, aerobic dance, and strength training to keep those muscles and joints in tip-top shape.

    • Maintain a healthy weight to lighten the load on your joints. Losing just a few pounds can make a world of difference when it comes to joint pain.

    • Don't forget to prioritize flexibility exercises to keep your joints nimble and happy.

  2. Diet and Nutrition:

    • Embrace an individualized diet that focuses on anti-inflammatory foods and minimizes processed foods and additives that can contribute to inflammation.

    • Consider following a Mediterranean-style diet, which has shown promising results in reducing the risk of osteoarthritis and improving quality of life.

  3. Mind-Body Approaches:

    • Explore mind-body movements like tai chi and yoga. These gentle exercises can help reduce pain, increase joint mobility, and improve overall well-being.

    • Consider acupuncture as a complementary therapy to alleviate pain and disability associated with osteoarthritis.

  4. Supplements:

    • Give glucosamine and chondroitin a shot. These supplements have shown the potential in reducing pain and preventing further joint deterioration.

    • Explore the benefits of antioxidants such as curcumin, Boswellia, L-glutathione, and vitamin C. They may help modulate joint inflammation by restoring balance and reducing oxidative stress.


Remember, when it comes to arthritis, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Each person's experience with joint health is unique. By understanding the causes, risk factors, and practical strategies we've discussed, you can take an active role in maintaining healthy joints and minimizing the impact of osteoarthritis. Joint health is within your reach, so let's keep those joints happy and healthy for years to come!


For more information on the Johnson Center’s approach to aging, click here to contact us! If you have any more questions about your path to optimal health, email our office at thejohnsoncenter@gmail.com or call 276-235-3205.


The Johnson Center for Health services patients in-person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach / Norfolk locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!


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