Can Arthritis Be Prevented?
Arthritis is a growing medical problem that continues to affect many people as they get older and years of wear and tear start catching up to their bodies. Treatments for arthritis can be limited, and there is certainly no cure available, but can this sometimes-debilitating condition be prevented before it starts? Perhaps.
Arthritis tends to strike worst in people who have spent years at a job or activity that requires repetitive motion or is particularly demanding on bones and joints. And while engaging in these activities might not be avoidable altogether, being mindful of how your actions can affect your body is the best way to combat arthritis.
What is Arthritis?
Before you can try to prevent the condition, it’s best to fully understand what it is and how it works. There are many different kinds of arthritis, but the most common form is osteoarthritis, which is sometimes called degenerative joint disease, and currently affects more than 27 million Americans.
Osteoarthritis is an inflammation or abnormality of the joints resulting from cartilage and bone degradation, which typically occurs over many years of bodily wear and tear.
Symptoms include sharp or burning pain of the joints or surrounding muscles and tendons, as well as stiffness and sometimes locking.
Since the main cause of arthritis is our daily activity, which we can usually control, the best form of prevention is awareness. While you’re at the office, on the athletic field, or just at home, try to think about how the actions you’re performing are affecting your joints.
If you work at a job that involves a lot of lifting and manual labor, are you doing undue damage to your knees and hands? Do you run several times a week on hard concrete surfaces?
Over time, these types of activities can break down the cartilage in your joints and lead to arthritis, so it can be helpful to consider some less joint-intensive alternatives. Perhaps you could run on a local track instead of on concrete, or maybe you can make slight alterations to your work routine to take the stress off your joints. Even office workers can work under physically demanding conditions, especially if you sit in a chair without adequate support, or if you stand on your feet in one position all day. Be sure to take breaks as often as possible, and keep yourself moving fluidly to prevent stiffness and soreness of joints.
While there may not be one perfect way to completely prevent all forms of arthritis, knowing what you face is half the battle. By making small changes now, you can save yourself a lot of pain later in your life.