Keeping Your Joints Healthy

Your joints are responsible for connecting your bones and without them you would be unable to bend! As we age it is inevitable that we will experience damage to our bones and unfortunately the same is true of our joints. However, there are things that you can do to work to limit this damage and help to preserve the optimum function of your joints. Sometimes this damage happens due to general overuse, but sometimes it is because of a condition known as osteoarthritis. 

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that generally only affects those over the age of 60. It is characterised by damage to the cartilage that is in place to protect the joints. When this happens the joint is then unable to move as smoothly as it previously would have done.

As the cartilage continues to become thinner, the bone underneath will then thicken. This means that the tissue within the joints then becomes more active, which can cause the bone that is at the edge of the joint to grow outwards. Bone spurs, known as osteophytes, are then formed, which project from the bone. It is likely that when this occurs, extra fluid will be produced in the area, which will then cause the joint to swell. This can, of course, be quite painful! 

Approximately one third of all adults over the age of 60 are affected in some way by osteoarthritis.

Joint Overuse

If you persistently overuse your joints then it is likely that over time you will cause damage to them. This can lead to restricted movement in the affected joints as well as localised pain. As this problem continues to develop, it is possible that even the simplest of movements, such as reaching for an item, can become difficult and incredibly painful. If this is something that you begin to experience then it could obviously have a massive detrimental impact on your quality of life.

Certain jobs that involve large amounts of manual labour are known to be a leading cause of this problem. 

Protecting Your Joints

It is possible to change your lifestyle in order to help preserve the health and function of your joints.

The health of your bones is connected to the health of your joints, and working to maintain your bones will help to protect your joints. The health of your muscles and ligaments is also important in relation to the function of your joints.

Maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the best things that you can do to protect your entire musculoskeletal system. Obese people are at a much heightened risk of developing osteoarthritis because their joints have to work much harder to carry the extra weight. If you are overweight then losing weight will help to protect your joints, as well as reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis! Your general health will also benefit in other ways.

Exercising regularly is a great way to help protect the health of your joints. Exercise can also help to alleviate existing joint pain and aid the prevention of osteoarthritis. Additionally, regular exercise will help to strengthen your bones. You may initially find it challenging to embark upon a new exercise regime if you are already suffering with joint pain, but you will find over time that this activity reduces inflammation and helps to combat the problem.

A healthy diet will not only keep your weight down but various vitamins and minerals can also help to reduce joint pain. You should especially aim to get an adequate amount of vitamin D and calcium in your diet.

You may choose to take supplements to further support the optimum health of your joints. It has been suggested by preliminary research that good choices are glucosamine and chondroitin.

If you use a computer as a part of your job then you should work to protect your body. This is because working a desk job can impact your body in a negative way if you do not adequately protect yourself. It is advisable to position your torso approximately 25 inches from the computer screen and try to always keep your elbows at a comfortable right angle from the keyboard. It is also recommended that you try to keep your wrists relaxed when you are typing and to take frequent breaks.

Wearing comfortable footwear will help to limit the amount of stress that your knees experience. For this reason, shoes that have high heels are generally a bad idea.

Sitting down for too long can cause a whole host of health problems and you should take regular breaks if you do have to sit down for an extended period of time. On the flip-side, spending all day on your feet can be quite bad for your joints too. Try to alternate between the two during your day so that you are getting an adequate amount of exercise alongside an adequate amount of rest.

References

1) http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/joint-protection/joint-health.php

2) http://www.ascseniorcare.com/the-importance-of-healthy-joints/