Osteoarthritis (OA) is caused by wear and tear on the cartilage that protects and cushions your joints. Some risk factors for OA are inevitable, such as:
Therefore, OA will never be entirely preventable. However, other risk factors can be modified. There are definitely things you can do to reduce your risk. Furthermore, if you do develop OA, many of the same lifestyle changes can also slow the course of your disease.
A number of lifestyle factors affect your risk of developing OA. Fortunately, there are ways for you to improve your joint health.
Manage Occupational Risk
Jobs that involve a lot of repetitive motion can be hard on your joints. Talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your OA risk if your job involves a lot of:
You may need to alter the way you perform these activities.
Regular exercise can help slow down, or even prevent, OA. Exercise:
- maintains healthy joints
- relieves stiffness
- reduces pain and fatigue
- increases muscle and bone strength
Arthritis experts recommend low-impact exercises to improve joint health. Look for activities that aren’t just aerobic. They should also include strength training and stretching.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess weight puts undue stress on your joints. This can speed up the deterioration of joint cartilage. Overweight and obese individuals are at greater risk of developing OA.
For those who have OA, excess weight can exacerbate the symptoms. Losing weight has been proven to reduce pain in legs and hips.
Exercise can help develop healthy joints and muscles. However, overuse of joints can increase the risk of developing OA. The key is balance.
If your joints are swollen or achy, give them a break. Try to avoid using a swollen joint for at least 12 to 24 hours. Letting an injured joint heal may reduce the risk of developing OA there in the future.
In addition, for those who have OA, fatigue has been shown to increase pain. Make sure you get enough sleep every night.