The first time you experienced arthritic pain, you probably didn’t realize what it was. Instead, you might have felt that you twisted your thumb or sprained your wrist somehow. Even when the pain didn’t go away, you just thought it was a bad case and would go away at some point. And it did, for some days, so you didn’t really notice when it returned.
And so it went for some weeks or months until, one day, the question popped into your head.
Do I have arthritis?
Long considered an inescapable symptom of aging, arthritis tends to appear or get worse as we get older. But over 15,000 Canadians between the ages of 15 and 19 years reported arthritis symptoms on 2007 and 2008.
While there are over 100 different forms of arthritis, common arthritic symptoms generally include joint pain and stiffness, but can also include redness, swelling and decreased joint mobility.
The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease and rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder.
Back to your first experience with arthritis, once you realized what the pain might be and had it diagnosed, you probably just assumed you had to live with arthritis for the rest of your life.
But new studies are finding that many cases of osteoarthritis can be preventable. And the prevention starts with nothing more complicated than eating a healthier diet and getting regular exercise.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Arthritis
A study completed at the University of Surrey in the UK discovered that excess glucose production causes inflammation and, in turn, cartilage damage. The excess glucose is produced by cells in the joints in response to a bad diet and physical inactivity.
The study’s findings are yet another indication of the significance of our diets and activity levels on our overall health and wellbeing.
A study at Harvard University also found evidence that osteoarthritis is preventable. After studying skeletons form the last 100 years, the Harvard researchers found that we are twice as likely to have arthritis then our grandparents were.
If you’d like to reduce your chances of getting osteoarthritis (OA), or would like to reduce the symptoms of an existing arthritic condition, the following steps can help.
1. Healthily Reduce Your Weight
Excess body weight puts extra strain on your joints, which increases your risk of OA. The word ‘healthily’ is important in this point. Trying to lose weight through crash dieting can actually make your risk of arthritis and existing arthritic conditions worse by not delivering the proper nutrition to help your body manage the inflammation that slowly deteriorates your joints.
2. Get 2.5 Hour of Moderate Exercise Each Week
This sounds like a lot. But don’t let the seemingly huge number discourage you from trying. First, moderate exercise includes things like brisk walking, swimming, cycling or mowing the lawn. In other words, nothing that requires an expensive gym membership, crazy exercise routine or the wearing of tights. Second, with the fact that you’re probably getting some form of moderate exercise already, it’s not like you’re going from zero to two and a half hours.
3. Control Your Blood Sugar
This is also why your diet needs to healthy. Excess blood glucose causes inflammation, which has been linked to cartilage damage in your joints.
4. Get More Vitamin D
Starting to get the idea of the importance of a healthy diet here? Vitamin D helps to increase your bone strength. You can get more D from the sun and oily fish like mackerel and salmon.
5. Improve Your Posture
When your body isn’t properly aligned, it forces your joints to do more work to keep you upright. That extra work can cause or worsen your arthritis.
If you want to treat OA pain without painkillers, physiotherapy has been shown to be effective in reducing it through increased joint flexibility and movement. If you’d like to learn more about reducing your risk of arthritis or its symptoms, please call or visit us at Active Health Centre.