Arthritis isn’t a single ailment. In fact, more than 100 separate conditions all fall under the umbrella term of “arthritis,” and all of them affect the joints, causing inflammation and pain.
At Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center, we see first-hand how arthritis affects quality of life. Our orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jocelyn Idema has helped many patients manage arthritis. Whether it be arthritis in your hip, knee, or spine, she and her staff would prefer that none of our patients have to live with the pain of arthritis. Relief is here!
When it comes to arthritis, there are some risk factors you can reduce, and some that are outside your control. For example, if you have a family history of arthritis, you have a higher risk, and you can’t change your DNA. In addition, women have arthritis more often than men, which can’t be controlled.
And, as much as it may pain us to say, you can’t stop the hands of time, and your risk of osteoarthritis, the most common form of the disease, increases with age.
Although you can’t entirely eliminate your risk of developing arthritis, there are some things you can do that will make it less likely. As an added bonus, many of the strategies that prevent arthritis will also improve your overall health and fitness.
For example, one of the main risk factors for osteoarthritis of the knee is your weight. If you’re overweight or obese, your knees are under greater pressure, and you’re more likely to develop this wear-and-tear type of arthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight is an important way to protect your knees from osteoarthritis.
Another good way to lower your risk of arthritis is to exercise regularly. Exercise helps build up the muscles that support your joints, which provides stability. When your joints are more stable, you have less risk of arthritis.
Along with cardiovascular exercise -- which can help you maintain a healthy weight -- and exercise designed to build your strength, you should do some kind of flexibility training to maintain or increase your range of motion. A good range of motion and flexibility lower your risk of arthritis and can protect you from injury.
Fish is a good source of lean, healthy protein. It’s also rich in omega-3 fats which are known to reduce inflammation. Since all the different forms of arthritis are inflammatory diseases, less inflammation reduces your risk.
Wild-caught fish is better than farmed fish, and you should aim for about two servings per week. Salmon, trout, mackerel, and sardines are all excellent sources of omega-3s.
Regular visits with your doctor are a good way to lower your risk of arthritis, as well. Routine physicals with blood work are a good way to keep an eye on any markers in your blood that may indicate inflammation.
More importantly, if you begin to feel symptoms of arthritis, an expert like Dr. Idema can help you manage it. Although arthritis can’t be cured, there are treatments that can slow the progression and improve your joint health.
Whether you play sports, have a family history of arthritis, or you have other reasons to worry about your risk, schedule an appointment with Dr. Idema. She’s happy to answer your questions in the context of your health and life.
Scheduling is easy. Simply call one of our locations in Pittsburgh, Washington, or McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, and we’ll be happy to book your appointment, or book online here.