Know Your Risk: Osteoarthritis


Joints are amazing structures.  They literally carry us through life, but there is only so much stress they can bear.  As we age, joints begin to breakdown.  Eventually, the ability to rebuild cartilage is lost and the liquid that lubricates the spaces between bones grows thin.  As a result, joints become painful and stiff.  This complex condition is known as Osteoarthritis (OA).  Currently, over 27 million Americans are suffering, so it’s important to know your risk.

Risk Factors:

Excess Weight:  Every 1 pound of weight gained puts an extra 2-3 pounds of stress on each individual knee joint.  Times that 50 and your knees don’t stand a chance.

Sedentary Lifestyle:  While it is unknown exactly how much exercise is most beneficial, it is clear that no exercise is absolutely not an option.  When we fail to exercise, our muscles become weak and lose their ability to help carry weight which leaves more work for the joints. 

Injury/Trauma:  If a serious injury is sustained to the joint, it can never be fully restored.  People who suffered from joint injuries in their youth report a higher frequency of OA.   

Age/Genetics:  Joints are not made to last forever, but it may be a genetic concern if OA develops at an early age or manifests intensely.

Learning to live with it harmoniously is possible.  Keep your weight down and continue to move.  There is no “best” exercise routine to manage OA, but a mixture of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, stretching and balance work is best.  Avoid repetitive movements at high intensity.  When it comes to treating pain, perspective is important.  Emotions play a big role in how we deal with pain.   If you have been a lifelong runner but now suffer from knee OA, this may be the perfect time to pick up swimming or buy a bike.  Remain optimistic.  Be creative.  Life does not have to end when OA begins. 

Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of disability in the aging population.  If you or a loved one is suffering, Alliance can help.  Contact us at 1.877.687.7380 or info@alliancehomecare.com.

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