Severe joint pain plagues over 15 million Americans, and that number is steadily rising. Joint pain is usually caused by arthritis, which is the leading cause of work disability in the United States. Half of those living with arthritis report having persistent pain. If you’re living with any form of arthritis, or just would like to keep your joints healthy and pain-free for the foreseeable future, check out these tips!
Keep Your Weight Under Control
Your joints are designed to support a certain amount of weight and overworking them may put more stress on them than they can sustain. Any weight you gain is magnified as stress on your knees. Every 10 pounds you add to your frame adds 20-39 pounds of force to each knee. Additionally, inflammatory factors associated with weight gain might contribute to trouble in joints other than those supporting your full weight (your hands, for example.)
Keeping your weight under control is beneficial for your joints and reduces your risk for a multitude of other diseases and conditions. If you’re not happy with your weight, take steps to eat a healthier diet and seek out more physical activity. If you’re already experiencing joint pain, look for forms of exercise that are low-impact such as swimming or bicycling.
Dietary and Lifestyle Changes
Dietary changes can make a huge difference if you’re experiencing joint pain. Replacing energy drinks, sodas, and other high-sugar drinks with water can help alleviate joint ailments. Water makes up the vast majority of the cartilage that cushions your joints. If you’re perpetually dehydrated, your body will pull water from other areas, including your cartilage. If you’re looking for supplements to help keep your joints healthy, vitamin D and calcium are two nutrients that help keep your bones and connective tissues healthy.
Smoking can also contribute to joint pain. A Mayo Clinic study, published in 2007 in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, followed 159 men with knee osteoarthritis (OA) for up to 30 months and found current smokers had more severe pain and were more than twice as likely to have significant cartilage loss as nonsmokers.
Improve Your Exercise Habits
Don’t let a fear of pain or stiffness prevent you from staying active! Movement actually eases joint stiffness, reduces joint pain, strengthens the muscles which surround the joints. If you’re concerned about the pain caused by running or hitting the gym, opt for low-impact forms of exercise that will both help you keep your weight under control as well as build strength.
Another important component of your health to consider is your range of motion. A limited range of motion is a characteristic of Arthritis and other causes of joint pain. To maintain or expand your current range of motion, it’s vital to regularly put each joint through its full range — whether through extension or flexion. Prioritizing your range of motion will improve flexibility and relieve both stiffness and pain.
We provide the most advanced orthopedic care in Manhattan and pride ourselves in helping people return to doing the things they love. If you’re living with joint pain, or any other persistent pain, make an appointment!