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Osteoarthritis - How To Prevent It?

Reviewed by
Dr. Alok Kalyani 91% (29 ratings)
Fellowship in Rheumatology, MD (Medicine), AFIH, MBBS
Rheumatologist, Delhi  •  20 years experience
 Osteoarthritis - How To Prevent It?

There are so many things we take for granted. For example, have you ever thought about how your fingers bend or how your knees open and fold to help you walk? It is only when these simple acts start becoming uncomfortable that we take a closer look at them. Osteoarthritis is a common musculoskeletal condition that affects the cartilage in our joints. As the cartilage breaks down, bones lose the buffer between them and every movement becomes stiff and painful.

Here are a few things you should know about osteoarthritis.

  1. Osteoarthritis is common: Osteoarthritis can affect both men and women but men have a higher risk of osteoarthritis as compared to women. This risk increases with age. Other risk factors associated with osteoarthritis include obesity, genetics, muscle weakness and previous joint injuries. The joints most commonly affected by osteoarthritis include the knees, hips, and spine. It is important to note that though this condition is common, it is not inevitable.
  2. You can reduce your risk of Osteoarthritis: By making a few lifestyle changes you can reduce the chances of suffering from this condition. Controlling your blood sugar and weight are primary amongst these. Regular exercise is also necessary as it increases flexibility and keeps the joints supple. It also strengthens the bones and muscles. If your work involves heavy lifting avoid placing stress on your knees and instead lift the weight with your hips.
  3. Different people have different symptoms: This condition has a very slow progression rate and hence may go unnoticed in its early stages. While some people experience pain in the early stages, others may not realize anything is amiss until an X-ray shows the degenerated cartilage. It also progresses at different rates for each individual. The condition will progress faster in the case of people living with heavy stress or those with a sedentary lifestyle. Some of the common symptoms associated with osteoarthritis include pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints. Along with an X ray, blood tests will also be conducted to diagnose osteoarthritis. This helps rule out any other type of arthritis. In rare cases, osteoarthritis can cause joint deformities.
  4. Exercise is the best treatment for osteoarthritis: At present, there is no known cure for this disease. Medication can help relieve the pain caused by movement but cannot help stop the cartilage degeneration or help new cartilage grow. However, exercise can be very beneficial. This helps strengthen the muscles around the joint and can even slow down the rate of degeneration. Low-intensity exercises such as walking, swimming, yoga, and cycling are ideal for osteoarthritis patients as they do not put any pressure on the joints.
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