Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis in the United States. Often referred to as "wear and tear" arthritis, about 32.5 million American adults live with this degenerative joint condition.
Osteoarthritis develops when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears down over time. It causes symptoms like pain, stiffness, and reduced joint mobility. Unfortunately, there’s no cure.
We work with patients to help manage their arthritis symptoms and improve their quality of life. In this blog, we explain five effective lifestyle strategies that can help protect your joints.
When your joints hurt, it’s easy to assume that activity will only make the pain worse. But contrary to what you might think, exercise is a vital component of OA management.
Low-impact activities, such as walking, swimming, and cycling, can help improve joint flexibility, strengthen the surrounding muscles, and reduce pain over time. If you haven’t exercised for a while, remember to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
Check with your health care team before trying any new exercise routine. Dr. Graham and our team can work with you to design an exercise program tailored to your specific needs, making sure you engage in activities that are both safe and beneficial.
A few simple precautions can go a long way to help slow the progression of OA. Choose low-impact workouts, such as walking, and avoid activities that put excessive strain on your joints, such as running.
Pay attention to proper body mechanics and posture when lifting heavy objects. Consider using ergonomic tools and aids to reduce joint stress during daily tasks, and try using assistive devices, such as knee braces or splints, when necessary.
Your diet influences your overall well-being, and that includes your joint health. Foods rich in antioxidants, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, can help reduce inflammation in your body. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts can also offer relief from joint pain.
Depending on your unique needs, Dr. Graham and our team may recommend adding supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, to your diet. These supplements can help promote joint health, particularly if you don’t get enough of them from your diet alone.
Carrying extra weight puts extra stress on weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees. This extra stress can accelerate OA progression, making being overweight or obese significant risk factors for OA.
If you’re carrying extra pounds, losing even a modest amount of weight can significantly reduce the burden on your joints and slow the progression of OA. Dr. Graham can create a personalized weight management plan that suits your needs and goals.
Perhaps the most critical lifestyle strategy for managing OA is working closely with your doctor. As an orthopedic specialist, Dr. Graham has extensive experience diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal conditions, including OA.
Together, we can develop a personalized arthritis treatment plan for your specific needs. For example, your plan could include any of the following:
Our team is here to provide valuable guidance on managing pain and improvingyour joint function. We can monitor the progression of your OA and make adjustments to your treatment plan as needed to help you live as comfortably as possible.
It’s no secret that OA is a challenging condition. But, with the right lifestyle strategies and the guidance of an orthopedic specialist, you can slow its progression and maintain a good quality of life. To learn more, call us at 704-503-9023 or book an appointment online.