Top 10 Strategies to Help Prevent or Reduce Arthritis

Arthritis

More than 50 million adults in the United States have arthritis. While it’s most common in seniors and women, it can affect anyone. In fact, even children can develop arthritis.

Unfortunately, this is a progressive condition that will continue to worsen if you don’t take steps to reduce the wear and tear on your joints. The good news is that there are more than a few preventative measures you can take to reduce the likelihood you will develop arthritis, as well as things you can do to help reduce the severity of symptoms if you do have this condition. While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent arthritis, you can take steps to help reduce the likelihood that you will develop this condition. Keep reading to learn what these steps are.

1. Eat Plenty of Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are one type of polyunsaturated fat. They offer several benefits, which include reducing inflammation in your body. According to some research[i], it can reduce RA activity in joints.

Experts from the USDA[ii] recommend eating 3.5 ounces of fish that is high in omega-3s, such as sardines, mackerel, trout, or salmon, two times per week. If you are a caregiver for a senior, adding this to their weekly menu is recommended. Nursing homes should also consider offering this to residents.

Those who are vegan or vegetarian can get omega-3s from other sources like chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, plant oils, fortified eggs, and soy beverages.

2. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

A leading risk factor for arthritis is excess body weight. The more pressure that is on your joints, the faster they will wear out. Every additional pound of weight that you carry puts four additional pounds of weight on your joints.

Losing weight is recommended to help with arthritis discomfort and pain. For seniors, staying active can help reduce joint pain. If a senior is at risk of falling, make sure to use an on-the-go medical alert system with fall detection. That way, if a fall occurs, help can be summoned immediately at any time of the day or night.

As the pounds drop, the stress on the joints is reduced. For some seniors, who may be at a high risk of falling or mobility issues, it may be smart to change their diet. This can include adding more fiber by eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. It’s also a good idea to limit fat and refined carbohydrates.

3. Manage Your Blood Sugar

Approximately 47% of people with diabetes in the United States have also been diagnosed with one of the over 100 types of arthritis. When someone has high blood sugar, it will stiffen the cartilage. Because of this, it is much more susceptible to damage as the joints are used.

Diabetes also leads to whole-body inflammation, which may lead to cartilage deterioration.

4. Start Exercising More

As mentioned above, exercise will help you reduce your weight, which means stress will be taken off the joints. However, it also strengthens the muscles around your joints. This will help to stabilize them and protect them from additional wear and tear.

It’s important to engage in different types of exercise. For seniors, this may mean doing more than just walking. A great accessory for seniors who want to be active and have peace of mind that they can get help if needed, is an on-the-go wristwatch medical alert device with GPS and pedometer.

The different types of exercises to engage in include:

Aerobic or Endurance Exercises

This exercise category includes things like biking, swimming, and walking. Any activity that gets your heart pumping and improves endurance will be beneficial. This type of exercise will also help you lose weight and reduce the pressure on your joints. Experts recommend 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, five times a week if possible.

Strength Exercises

Lifting light weights, using your body weight, and elastic resistance bands will help strengthen the muscles that support your body’s weight-bearing joints. It’s a good idea to try to strength train at least twice per week.

Flexibility Exercises

Pilates and stretching are great flexibility exercises that will help the joints maintain their full range of motion while preventing stiffness and reducing the risk of injury.

It’s best to stretch four to five times a week. You can do this in the morning when you wake up or before working out.

Balance Exercises

Walking heel to toe, balancing on one leg, and Tai Chi are all exercises that can help improve your balance and posture. These are particularly beneficial for seniors, as they can strengthen the legs, which will aid with fall prevention.

5. Check Vitamin D Levels

Information has shown that around 60% of Americans in nursing homes[iii] are vitamin D deficient. This is especially a problem for women and, even more specifically, African American women and those who are past menopause.

It’s a good idea to have your doctor check your vitamin D levels, which can help with preventing arthritis. Patients who have low vitamin D levels are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. The specific reason for this is unknown due to the limited research on this topic.

If you decide to take a vitamin D supplement, just make sure to avoid taking too much. Speak to your doctor to find the right amount for you.

6. Try to Avoid Injuries

As time passes, your joints will start to wear out. If your joints are injured, for example, because of an accident or playing sports, you may experience damage to the cartilage, resulting in it wearing out even faster.

If a senior injured their ACL when they were younger, they are more likely to develop osteoarthritis 10 to 15 years later. The risk is even higher for those who have had surgery to repair this tear.

Because of this, it’s a good idea for everyone to take steps to prevent injuries by warming up before any activity and using the proper safety equipment. If you do have OA, wearing the right shoes is imperative to keep it from getting worse.

7. Drink Plenty of Water

By now, you know that drinking plenty of water is essential for good health. However, another reason to drink plenty of water is to help prevent arthritis.

The cartilage between your joints is made up of mostly water. If you become dehydrated, then the water is sucked out of the cartilage, making it more susceptible to damage caused by wear and tear.

This problem is commonly seen in individuals who are dealing with degenerative disk disease or who have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the spine. If the cartilage discs in your spine lose water or moisture, or if they are too dry, it increases the amount of pain you feel. You can help prevent serious pain and other issues by drinking plenty of water during the day.

Keep in mind that being dehydrated for seniors can also cause dizziness. This can increase the likelihood of falls. To ensure help is notified if a fall occurs, be sure to use an alert pendant with the emergency call button any time you need assistance.

8. Stop Smoking

Are you a smoker? If so, you are increasing the likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

However, that’s not the only reason to stop smoking. If you smoke often, it can cause circulatory and breathing problems. These can make it harder to remain active.

9. Treat Infections Right Away

Viruses and bacteria can cause symptoms like sneezing and coughing when you are sick. Some of the germs may also get into your joints and cause arthritis.

Septic arthritis, also called infectious arthritis, is a painful type of joint disease resulting from staph (in most cases). Usually, the bacteria make their way into the bloodstream and then move to the joint or to the fluid located around the joint. This type of arthritis is treatable using antibiotics.

It’s also possible for RA to be triggered by the flu, colds, and other respiratory infections. That’s because the infection may cause an unusual immune system response that results in the autoimmune disease.

10. See Your Doctor

If you begin noticing arthritis symptoms, such as swelling, stiffness, and pain in your joints, it’s smart to go to your doctor or a rheumatologist. Most arthritis damage is progressive. This means the longer you wait to receive treatment, the more issues, and damage that can occur to your joints.

Your doctor can suggest lifestyle interventions or treatments that will help to slow down the progression of arthritis and help you remain mobile.

Preventing Arthritis

As mentioned above, there’s no guaranteed way to prevent arthritis. Also, if you are at risk for this condition, there may be nothing you can do to stop it. While this is true, you can take steps to help reduce how it impacts your life. Millions of people, including seniors, live active, healthy, and happy lives with arthritis. The key is to use the tips above and maintain your health as you age as best you can.

 

 



[i] http://mjrheum.org/assets/files/792/file242_1161.pdf

[ii] https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2013/eat-fish-which-fish-that-fish-go-fish

[iii] https://www.medscape.com/answers/128762-54281/what-is-the-prevalence-of-vitamin-d-deficiency-in-the-us#:~:text=Vitamin%20D%20insufficiency%20is%20highest,to%20be%20vitamin%20D%20deficient.