12 Tips for Preventing Osteoarthritis
The HealthCentral Editorial Team | March 28, 2012
Ideally, the best medical strategy is to prevent disease. However, one can only do so much in following this advice. Remember that injuries are never completely preventable, lifestyle is seldom perfect even for the most determined and, to some degree, osteoarthritis development is influenced by genetics.
Get enough vitamin D
There seems to be an association of low vitamin D and symptoms of OA, but not with loss of cartilage. Evidence for the importance of Vitamin D for bone health is well established and it is becoming apparent that Vitamin D is probably vital for general health and for helping prevent heart disease and cancer. Thus it seems worthwhile to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D.
Make your weight healthy
Most important for OA is to maintain a healthy weight! The more excess weight you carry, the more likely you are to develop arthritis of the hips and knees and even the ankles and feet.
Get enough calcium
Adequate calcium intake is also very important. Calcium contributes to bone health, but be careful of having too much fatty dairy!
Muscles support joints and also promote good general health. Ligaments and tendons are tough, strong tissues that connect muscles and joints and help stabilize the joint. You want strong muscles to protect the joint and avoid excessive shear on the tendons and ligaments.
Good posture is very important for the health of your spine. Osteoarthritis can damage your spine very badly and can lead to a life of pain and disability. Poor posture will often cause changes that result in accelerated osteoarthritis.
There is no specific diet for osteoarthritis, but the same healthy diet that benefits your general health will also help your skeleton, muscles and joints.
The next step is to avoid injuries where possible. Injuries are major risk factors for later osteoarthritis in the joints affected directly or indirectly by the way injuries may change how you use your body.
Avoid high impact aerobics
Running on tough or uneven surfaces or with poor technique can be damaging for your joints. Walking briskly is just as beneficial for your health as running but much kinder to your joints. Treadmills, exercise bikes and other such equipment are usually much gentler on your joints as well.
Repetitive strain disorders
Repetitive strain disorders, such as occur in computer work or in jobs that require frequent bending or working on bended knees, also can cause damage. There are many sources on work ergonomics (how you physically position yourself, etc.) that can help prevent these kinds of problems.
Don't push too hard
Athletes who wish to push themselves to their maximum or to compete at high levels often pay a price: each injury increases the risk of osteoarthritis developing in that joint at a later age. Small injuries, some even nearly microscopic and often ignored or unrecognized, are very common and may also contribute to OA later on.
Proper lifting techniques and sleeping conditions help prevent spine injuries.
Pay attention to injuries
Attend to injuries immediately and listen to your doctor’s restrictions and guidance. Joints supported by well-developed muscles are less prone to injury. Smoking, excess alcohol, and drug abuse also increase the risk of joint damage for those who survive those habits long enough to develop OA.