Many things like whisky and cheddar cheese become better with age. Unfortunately, your joints aren’t one of these things. Even with a healthy lifestyle, your joints wear and tear over time. For this reason, joint degenerative issues like osteoarthritis are very common.
More than 32 million people in the United States live with a joint degenerative condition called osteoarthritis. This condition develops when the cartilage that cushions the bones in the joint thins and loses its shock-absorbing properties. This can damage the joint and trigger symptoms like inflammation, pain, and stiffness.
Because almost everyone will develop this condition at some point, it is better to be prepared and know at least the basic things about this condition. Below are 5 facts about osteoarthritis that everyone needs to know.
1. Weight loss can help treat and prevent osteoarthritis
Excessive weight is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis. This puts additional stress on the weight-bearing joints and can speed up joint damage. People with high BMI have a 7 times higher risk of joint problems. As a result, you may have issues like hip or knee pain, stiffness, and inflammation. These symptoms often interfere with daily activities like climbing stairs or simply standing up.
Losing excessive weight can help you slow down osteoarthritis progression and relieve the symptoms like pain and stiffness. If you have excessive weight, consult your healthcare provider. A specialist can help you with weight loss and management.
2. Osteoarthritis affects more than just physical health
Any type of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, affects more than just your physical health. Because of persistent pain, stiffness, and generally low quality of life, you may become prone to mental health problems. Dealing with osteoarthritis can increase your risk of mood disorders like anxiety and depression. On the flip side, mental health problems make it harder to cope with osteoarthritis.
3. Age isn’t the only risk factor
Sure, age is the major risk factor for osteoarthritis. Because of a lifelong wear-and-tear, you will eventually develop osteoarthritis at some point. But age isn’t the only factor that increases your risk of joint degenerative disease. Things that can increase your risk for developing osteoarthritis at a younger age include:
- Weight. When your body carries extra weight, the pressure on your joints increases. As a result, they wear faster and your risk of osteoarthritis becomes higher.
- Sex. Gender also plays a role in your risk of developing osteoarthritis. Because of frequent hormonal changes, women(especially after menopause) are more prone to joint degenerative conditions.
- The history of joint injuries. Joint injuries that occur during an accident or workout can make you more susceptible to the development of joint degenerative disease.
- Genetics. If some of your family members have osteoarthritis, your chances to develop this condition become higher.
- Repetitive stress on the joint. People participating in work or sports that require repetitive joint movements are at higher risk for osteoarthritis.
4. Physical activity is crucial to relieve the symptoms
Most people with joint pain have low physical activity. The right type of exercise can help you slow down degenerative processes and relieve the symptoms. Exercises help you strengthen the muscles that support your joints. This reduces pressure on the joints and prevents their degeneration.
Of course, the best type of physical activity for people with osteoarthritis is physical therapy. A therapist can recommend the right exercises and teach you the way to perform them correctly.
5. There is no one treatment for all cases
Every case of osteoarthritis is unique and requires an individual approach. The one treatment that works for someone will not necessarily be effective for you. It can take some trial and error for you to find the right treatment option.