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ASK DR. ARTHRITIS: CAN YOU PREVENT ARTHRITIS WHILE YOU’RE YOUNG?
The majority of arthritis is a condition that’s defined as much by lifestyle as it is by genetics. As such, there really is no single, definitive way to prevent arthritis. In fact, the wear-and-tear our joints experience because of daily use is enough to take its toll on our joints sooner or later, if we live long enough.
With awareness and proper care however, it is entirely possibly to delay it—especially while you’re young. Sure, it’s a condition that’s common among the elderly, but while you’re in your 30s and 40s (even younger) there are a lot of things you can do to ensure the health of your joints.
The fact is, not a lot of people realize that arthritis symptoms actually start while they are young, even before obvious symptoms like pain become apparent. But there are early signs that you can look out for:
· Try holding out your leg in front of you—do you feel a crunching in your knee as raise your foot?
· Do your joints feel stiff in the morning?
· Do you feel a dull, deep ache in your joints?
If you do, these could be indicative of developing arthritis and you should immediately consult a trusted doctor who can test and explain your treatment options better.
As for preventive measures, here are some you should keep in mind:
1. Maintain a healthy, balanced diet
Extra pounds are terrible for your joints. It increases the pressure you put on them and can have a destructive metabolic effect. In addition, a chemical associated with obesity has been shown to tip the balance between the buildup and breakdown of cartilage, which means that cartilage degrades a lot faster than it is able to restore itself.
2. Choose your exercises carefully
Exercise is always great, but if you want to focus on joint health, make sure that you focus on low-impact activities to protect your joints like swimming or yoga and pilates.
3. Take note of biomechanics
Lifting and carrying various objects, daily physical tasks such as walking, running and other athletic activities—these are things that we take for granted everyday. But these can make a difference to the overall health of our joints. Making sure that you are conscious of posture will minimize strain on joints, from head to toe.
4. Do not ignore injuries
Our bodies have a remarkable ability to heal itself, especially when it comes to joint or bone injuries. But one too many “minor” sprains that aren’t properly treated can ultimately lead to a domino effect of deteriorating joints.
5. Use supplements and supports
Talk to your doctor about supplementing your diet with vitamins that are meant to strengthen joints. In addition to this, take advantage of available tools that you can use to protect your joints—the most common and easily accessible of which are compression sleeves, braces and supports that help provide additional support for strenuous and repetitive activities that you do daily.