Nearly three-quarters of older Americans struggle with joint pain, including millions of people with arthritis.
At Healthy Life Family Medicine, John Monroe, MD, and his team help patients in Goodyear, Arizona, improve joint health and prevent joint pain with tailored medical treatment and lifestyle guidance based on each patient’s needs. In this post, learn eight things you can do to help your joints stay healthy and free from pain as you get older.
1. Lose those extra pounds
Every extra pound you’re carrying puts 3-4 extra pounds of pressure on your joints. That means if you’re just 10 pounds overweight, you could be putting 30-40 pounds of pressure on your knees, ankles, and hips with every step you take.
But don’t despair! That same equation means that even a modest amount of weight loss can bring big benefits for your joints, including less inflammation, less cartilage damage, and less pain, too.
2. Be more active
Your joints are designed for movement; if you spend hours sitting, or if you lead a relatively inactive life, it’s no wonder they get stiff and sore. Regular aerobic exercise, like walking or swimming, keeps joints lubricated and mobile.
Strength-training builds up muscles that take some of the strain off weight-bearing joints. Just don’t overdo it, or you could make joint pain worse.
3. Choose food wisely
Lots of joint pain involves inflammation. Cutting out foods that contribute to inflammation — most notably sugary foods and processed foods — can help keep joint inflammation under control. At the same time, include plenty of anti-inflammatory foods, like colorful vegetables and fruits that are full of antioxidants.
4. Stand up straight
Sitting slumped over a laptop or phone for hours on end puts added pressure and strain on your spine and other joints. Paying attention to your posture keeps your spine in alignment, reducing the risk of nerve impingement and uneven joint strain.
5. Use joint protection
Planning on spending time in your garden this spring? Then consider using knee pads to cushion your knees. Wearing proper sports gear and even using a walking stick or cane when needed can help take some of the load off sore joints.
6. Quit smoking
Smoking isn’t just bad for your heart and lungs: It’s bad for your blood vessels, too. When blood vessels are damaged, it takes a toll on your circulation, and that means healing becomes more difficult. Quitting smoking helps your joints repair themselves and prevents inflammation that can lead to more pain.
7. Take breaks
Some joint pain is due to direct strain or injury, while other pain develops over time as a result of repetitive use. If you spend a lot of time doing the same activity, work in frequent breaks and try some gentle stretching to relieve strain and improve circulation in and around your joints.
8. Treat symptoms early
One of the best ways to support healthy joints as you age is to seek medical treatment at the first sign of joint pain or stiffness. Early intervention is essential for preventing or slowing joint damage and helping you avoid pain and disability.
If you have joint pain or stiffness, Dr. Monroe and his team can help. To learn more, book an appointment with the team at Healthy Life Family Medicine today.