Who Is at Risk for Osteoarthritis?

More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children live with arthritis in the United States alone. However, it’s important to note that the word “arthritis” simply describes inflammation of the joint causing debilitating pain. More than 100 conditions fall under this umbrella term, and osteoarthritis by far is the most common.

At Orthopedic Associates of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, Dr. Edward R. Dupay, Jr., offers both surgical and nonsurgical solutions for arthritis, including osteoarthritis. He shared these insights into this common form of arthritis and how to recognize your risks.

Understanding osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, aka “OA,” occurs when your joint cartilage breaks down. This tissue coats the ends of your bones where they meet, allowing them to slide against each other smoothly. As cartilage breaks down, the bones start rubbing against each other, causing pain, inflammation, bone injury, and bone spur information.

Common signs of OA in your joints include:

Unfortunately, OA involves irreversible joint damage. So, while Dr. Dupay can provide treatments to relieve your symptoms, you should take steps to protect your joint health.

Causes of osteoarthritis

The exact cause of OA isn’t known. However, several factors can increase your risks of cartilage degeneration, such as:

As you can see, you may not always be able to avoid OA, especially since most of us use our joints every day. However, there are ways to reduce excess stress on your joints, making it less likely for problems to arise or worsen.

Reducing your risk of osteoarthritis

The good news is that the best ways to protect your joints also benefit your overall health. 

Lose weight

One of the most important steps you can take involves maintaining a healthy body weight. Every extra pound you carry puts added stress on your joints, especially weight-bearing joints like your hips, knees, and ankles. Plus, extra fat also causes cartilage to deteriorate faster.

Stay active

It’s hard to move your body when you have joint pain. However, it’s actually a great way to avoid joint problems and ease stiffness and pain, even if you already have arthritis. 

Dr. Dupay recommends exercising for at least 30 minutes a day or 150 minutes per week. Even moderate, low-impact activities help, like walking, biking, or swimming. If you're new to exercise or you already have osteoarthritis, he can make personalized suggestions to help get you started on some kind of activity you enjoy.

Be mindful of your joints

They don’t call OA “wear-and-tear” arthritis for nothing, so think about how you use your body and joints on a daily basis. When exercising, start slowly and warm up with gentle movements and stretches. 

You can also avoid putting extra stress on your joints by changing up your activities. For example, carry a heavy grocery bag in the crook of your arm instead of with your hands, or vary your exercise program from day to day to prevent stressing the same joints.

For more tips on avoiding OA, or if you need relief for your symptoms, contact Orthopedic Associates of Southwest Florida by calling our office at 239-768-2272 or request an appointment online today.

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