Don’t Get Sidelined By Osteoarthritis

Arthritis comes in many forms, with osteoarthritis (OA) being a common version. The condition is degenerative, meaning that damage to the joints happens slowly over time. In most cases, lifestyle habits over several decades contribute to OA. While some people may need more aggressive treatments to slow progression and control symptoms, other individuals can often rely on simple lifestyle changes and even a medication regimen to continue with daily life. Osteoarthritis can occur in a variety of people, including athletes. The following tips can help minimize and prevent pain to protect mobility and improve quality of life.


What causes OA?

Osteoarthritis most commonly strikes the hands, hips, knees, and spine. Women are more likely to experience the condition. However, being overweight, as well as repeated strain on the joints, can accelerate OA progression. Athletes that experience recurrent injuries while playing sports may also struggle with arthritis. Likewise, age can usher in joint pain caused by cartilage loss. Other causes are genetics, some metabolic diseases, and even bone deformities. Simply put, the condition occurs because the cartilage slowly wears down over time. Unfortunately, total prevention isn’t possible. However, slowing progression, reducing pain, and maintaining mobility are possible with the following tips.

Get moving

Sometimes, the best way to prevent pain is to get the body moving. People with OA or individuals at risk of developing the disease should get plenty of regular activity and exercise. Arthritis sufferers don’t need to engage in high-impact workouts. Instead, low-impact options that don’t cause unnecessary strain are the best choices. Consider gentle exercises like yoga, stretching, swimming, or walking to preserve mobility and flexibility without posing a high risk of injury.

Watch the weight

Being overweight or obese is a known risk factor for developing osteoarthritis. Carrying too much weight can put unnecessary strain on critical joints like the knees, ankles, hips, and spine, all areas often affected by arthritis. Research shows that each pound lost represents a 4lb load reduction on the knees. However, not every person with arthritis is overweight or obese. Individuals unsure of weight guidelines should speak to a physician to determine current body mass index (BMI) and a plan to reach a goal weight if necessary.

Think about diet and health

Osteoarthritis isn’t a condition that operates completely independent of other factors. In particular, people with poorly controlled diabetes or cholesterol may find that arthritis pain is a constant fixture. Specifically, type 2 diabetes and OA are often considered comorbidities because both conditions frequently appear together in older adults. Similarly, high cholesterol is also often a precursor to osteoarthritis. Working to keep other chronic conditions well-managed can aid in slowing the progression of joint damage.

Consider pain management

Having OA doesn’t mean a person has to live in constant pain. Whether prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications are needed, people with the condition don’t need to suffer. Work with a rheumatologist to create a customized pain management and medication plan.

Take control of OA

Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis, but the condition doesn’t have to sideline people. Although no cure exists and the disease can’t be entirely prevented, individuals, including athletes, can work to curb progression. Getting active, losing weight if needed, and working with a rheumatologist can ensure that an OA diagnosis doesn’t negatively impact quality of life.

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