You may be wondering how to prevent osteoarthritis, or at least slow it down. Even though there is no cure, there are steps you can take that may help keep your symptoms from getting worse.
1. Lose Weight or Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis. After all, the more extra weight you’re carrying around, the harder your joints have to work to keep you going. But that’s not all—fat tissue in the body releases certain proteins that cause inflammation. Talk to your doctor about healthy ways you can lose weight, or stay at your ideal weight.
2. Regular Exercise
Of course, exercise helps you lose weight, or stay at a healthy weight. Plus, regular exercise helps to stabilize your joints and strengthen the muscles around them. This keeps your joints from working as hard as you increase your range of motion. Just be sure to ask your doctor what exercises are safe and healthy for you.
3. Healthy Diet
A balanced diet including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help you manage your weight, control your blood sugar, build and keep healthy cartilage, and reduce inflammation in your joints. Certain foods even provide bonus nutrients to those who have OA:
- Fish, nuts, and oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation.
- Vitamin C (found in citrus fruits and leafy greens) can aid in rebuilding and maintaining the connective tissues around your joints.
- Vitamin D, absorbed from sunlight and found in fortified cereals and milk, can slow down the worsening of OA symptoms.
4. Injury Prevention and Treatment
Cartilage doesn’t heal very well. According to the Arthritis Foundation, once you injure a joint, it’s almost seven times as prone to developing osteoarthritis as a joint that wasn’t injured. To protect your joints, be sure and warm up before playing sports or other types of exercise, and don’t run on hard surfaces, like asphalt roads, or overwork joints that are already painful or swollen.
If you do injure a joint, be sure and seek out medical treatment right away, and follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding rest, medication, or wearing a brace.
5. Medical Treatments
Depending on how severe your arthritis symptoms are, your doctor may recommend any number of treatments. These could include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen
- Prescription medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Cortisone or lubrication shots
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Surgical procedures like joint replacement or bone realignment
When it comes down to it, if you want to know how to prevent osteoarthritis or manage your symptoms, it’s mostly a matter of doing what’s best for your overall health. Talk to your doctor, and together you can work out an individualized plan that works for your lifestyle and level of health.