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Degenerative Joint Disease Is Common: 5 Ways to Reduce Your Risk 

Degenerative Joint Disease Is Common: 5 Ways to Reduce Your Risk 

Arthritis affects more than 90 million adults in the United States. Degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis, is the most common form, affecting over 30 million Americans. 

If you're looking for strategies to cut your risk of developing joint disease, our pain management specialist, Brian Rich, MD, can help. At aCELLerated Interventional Orthopedics, Dr. Rich provides comprehensive spine and pain management services to keep you feeling and functioning at your best. Keep reading to learn how you can keep your joints healthy, starting today!

Degenerative joint disease overview

Arthritis is an umbrella term that refers to more than 100 joint diseases that affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints breaks down, or degenerates. 

This results in joints that ache, swell, and feel stiff. While degenerative joint disease can affect any joint, it most commonly affects the hands, knees, hips, neck or lower back. Cartilage provides a smooth surface for bones to glide across when you move. As this cushion breaks down, the bones rub against each other, causing inflammation, and pain. 

While your risk of osteoarthritis increases with age, it’s important to know that half of those with this form of arthritis are under the age of 65. This means it’s never too early to take steps to protect your joints, lower your risk, and keep your joints as healthy as possible.

For those looking to protect your joints, here are 5 things you can work on:

#1: Maintain a healthy weight

Carrying excess weight is detrimental to your joints and increases the risk of developing degenerative joint disease. In fact, the more you weigh, the higher your risk of OA. Excess weight puts added stress on your joints, which accelerates wear and tear. Weight-bearing joints such as your knees, spine, and hips bear the brunt of the damage.

If you’re overweight, make losing weight your top priority to protect your joints. Even a modest weight loss of 20 pounds can make a significant difference in easing the strain on your joints.

#2: Stay active

Regular physical activity is crucial for keeping your joints healthy. It helps maintain flexibility, strengthens the muscles around your joints, and promotes overall joint health. Staying active and flexible is one of the best things you can do for your joints.

Focus on low-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, walking, and yoga, which provide the benefits of physical activity without putting excessive strain on your joints.

#3: Adopt a joint-friendly diet

Your diet plays a vital role in your overall health, including the health of your joints. Eating anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce your risk of osteoarthritis. To support joint health, incorporate foods high in omega-3 fats, such as salmon and flaxseeds, and plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limiting processed foods, sugars, fried foods, and red and processed meats can also help reduce inflammation in the body.

#4: Protect your joints

Safeguarding your joints from injuries can reduce your risk of developing degenerative joint disease. Joints are commonly injured from overuse or accidents. If you’re an athlete or lead an active lifestyle, always get the proper rest and avoid overtraining.

Use the proper techniques during physical activity and work to avoid putting unnecessary stress on your joints. Supportive devices, such as knee braces, can also protect your joints during high-impact activities. Additionally, practice good posture to distribute your body weight evenly and reduce strain on your joints.

#5: Consult health care professionals early

If you experience joint pain or stiffness, don't wait to seek advice from a health care professional. Early intervention can prevent further damage and reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis. While cartilage does break down with age, degenerative disc disease isn’t an inevitable consequence of aging. 

Dr. Rich can offer personalized advice and a treatment plan to manage any symptoms and support your joints for years to come. For help managing joint pain and resources for keeping your joints healthy, contact one of our offices to schedule a visit.

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