General Health

10 Way’s To Keep Joints Healthy

As we age, our bodies can suffer wear and tear, with our joints often being the victims of degenerative decline.

Many conditions can cause joint pain, with arthritis being one of the most common. Joint pain caused by arthritis affects millions of people every year, and around one in four adults with arthritis experience severe joint pain.

This article will discuss how to keep your joints healthy.

What Is Joint Pain?

Joint pain is defined as discomfort, pain, or inflammation arising from a joint. A joint is where two or more bones are joined together.

Many joints have cartilage on the ends that protect bones. Joints include shoulders, knees, elbows, and hips. The following symptoms usually accompany it:

  • Swelling

  • Warmth

  • Tenderness

  • Redness

  • Pain with movement

What Causes Joint Pain?

  • Arthritis: The two primary forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Gout is a further type of arthritis that causes joint pain.

  • Bursitis: This is inflammation of the cushioning pads around joints.

  • Lupus: An inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks its own tissues.

  • Infectious diseases: Such as mumps, influenza, and hepatitis.

  • An injury: An injury affecting any of the ligaments, bursae, or tendons surrounding the joint can result in pain.

  • Tendinitis: Is the inflammation of the tendon, causing pain and tenderness around the joint.

  • An infection of the bone or joint: Bone and joint infections are usually caused by bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus and may require antibiotics.

  • Cancer: During cancer treatment, pain in the joints, known as arthralgia, can occur.

1) Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Being overweight affects your health in a myriad of ways, including your joints. According to the Arthritis Foundation, every pound of excess weight you carry results in an additional four pounds of extra pressure on your weight-bearing joints.

Knees, in particular, are often affected by the extra weight, and even a small weight loss can help reduce knee pain and lower the risk of osteoarthritis (OA). By maintaining a healthy weight, you can relieve pressure on your joints.

2) Physical Activity

When exercising, the focus tends to be centered around gaining muscles rather than strengthening joints. Yet exercise increases strength and flexibility, which in turn can prevent and help in the management of joint pain.

Incorporating a combination of low-impact exercises and strengthening exercises strengthens the muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding the joints, thus supporting joint health.

Try to focus on strengthening the muscles around the hip and knee joints as these are the joints that need to support the entire body weight. If you are experiencing joint pain, then low-impact exercises are a good option.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, low-impact exercises are easier on your joints and include sports such as swimming; social sports, such as golf; walking, and cycling.

As a side note, it is also vital to warm up and stretch before exercise to prevent injury.

3) Posture

It’s easy to fall into a slouch, especially if you are working at a desk all day. However, poor posture can take its toll on your joints, resulting in back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain.

It also limits your range of motion and makes it so much harder for your muscles to relieve pressure from your joints.

Keeping your head level, pulling your shoulders back, and standing straight and tall can help you to practice good posture. If you are frequently sitting throughout the day, investing in a standing desk or sitting on an exercise ball could be useful.

4) Diet

Inflammation is considered the root cause of joint pain, and some studies have suggested that an anti-inflammatory diet may be beneficial.

The Mediterranean, in particular, has received special attention, with a meta-analysis published in the journal of Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular disease, finding that evidence that an MD decreases inflammation and improves endothelial function.

The Mediterranean diet primarily consists of fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, fish, and unsaturated fats in healthy sources, such as olive oil.

It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods and is mostly plant-based. A well-balanced diet is vital for all avenues of health, and if you are experiencing or at risk of developing joint pain, it is essential to factor in nutrition.

As discussed, being overweight can contribute to joint problems. Therefore a healthy diet, plentiful in anti-inflammatory foods, can simultaneously help to reduce inflammation while maintaining a healthy weight.

5) Omega 3

According to research studies, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce morning stiffness and the number of tender and swollen joints in those with rheumatoid arthritis.

One Iranian study showed a 50% improvement of tender joints of 89% of the study participants was seen, and the average erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) decreased from 39 to 16. There was a notable reduction in pain after 12 weeks of supplementation.

Good sources of omega 3 include fatty fish such as salmon mackerel and sardines. Omega 3 supplements are another option. However, when purchasing an omega 3 supplement, there are a few factors to consider to ensure that you are getting the highest quality supplements. Check out our Omega-3 Supplement Guide: What To Buy And When.

6) Krill oil

An alternative to omega 3 is krill oil. Antarctic krill oil is a product extracted from small, red crustaceans called Antarctic krill. It is an excellent source of astaxanthin, a naturally occurring red carotenoid pigment, which is a form of vitamin A. It is often supplemented in either capsule or liquid form.

Studies weighing up the differences between krill oil and fish oil have determined krill as the more powerful and bioavailable form of omega 3.

The anti-inflammatory effects of krill oil have been confirmed by researchers time and time again in clinical trials. Krill oil can lower levels of inflammatory cytokines in the blood.

One study, in particular, found that not only could krill oil reduce severe chronic inflammation and pain of arthritis as effectively as pain medications, but it was found to be more effective.

7) Quit Smoking

Smoking doesn’t just affect your lungs; it can also inflict damage on your bones. It has been shown to reduce blood supply to the bones as well as slow the body’s absorption of calcium.

Smoking has also been associated with an increased risk of fractures. A study published in the journal concluded that a smoking history was associated with a significantly increased risk of fracture compared with individuals with no smoking history.

8) Vitamin D and Calcium

Vitamin D and calcium play an important role in bone health. Vitamin d is required for calcium absorption. Calcium is the most important mineral for bone health, and it’s the main mineral found in your bones. Therefore, it’s important to consume calcium daily to protect bone structure and strength.

Conclusion

Joint pain is a common occurrence, and as people age, they can become more prone to it. Taking specific steps, such as embracing the Medditerean diet, managing weight, and exercising, can help to prevent the development of this condition naturally. If you are experiencing pain in your joints, it is important to consult a doctor to determine the cause and implement treatment.

Sources

  1. DeRogatis M, Anis HK, Sodhi N, et al. Non-operative treatment options for knee osteoarthritis. Ann Transl Med. 2019;7(Suppl 7):S245. doi:10.21037/atm.2019.06.68
  2. Rajaei E, Mowla K, Ghorbani A, Bahadoram S, Bahadoram M, Dargahi-Malamir M. The Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Patients With Active Rheumatoid Arthritis Receiving DMARDs Therapy: Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. Glob J Health Sci. 2015;8(7):18–25. Published 2015 Nov 3. doi:10.5539/gjhs.v8n7p18
  3. Schwingshackl, Hoffmann, G. (2014). Mediterranean dietary pattern, inflammation and endothelial function: A systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention trials. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease. 24 (9), p929–939.
  4. Rajaei E, Mowla K, Ghorbani A, Bahadoram S, Bahadoram M, Dargahi-Malamir M. The Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Patients With Active Rheumatoid Arthritis Receiving DMARDs Therapy: Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. Glob J Health Sci. 2015;8(7):18–25. Published 2015 Nov 3. doi:10.5539/gjhs.v8n7p18
  5. Kanis JA1, Johnell O, Oden A, Johansson H, De Laet C, Eisman JA, Fujiwara S, Kroger H, McCloskey EV, Mellstrom D, Melton LJ, Pols H, Reeve J, Silman A, Tenenhouse A.. (2005). Smoking and fracture risk: a meta-analysis.. Osteoporosis International . 16 (2), p155-62.
  6. https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/exercise/exercise-your-bone-health

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