5 Keys to Living with Osteoarthritis After 50
Enjoying an active lifestyle with osteoarthritis can continue well after age 50 with these 5 simple keys.
If you’re a man over age 50, your odds or getting osteoarthritis begin rising significantly. In fact, if you’ve noticed pain, aching, or soreness in your knees, shoulders, or hips, chances are good that you’re getting early warning signs of this degenerative disease’s onset.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Arthritis means inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis, sometimes known as “wear and tear” arthritis, is most common of all arthritis types, and is a breakdown of cartilage in joints, occurring in almost any joint. Osteoarthritis commonly occurs in weight bearing joints, including hips, knees, and spine, and can affect other joints if previous injury or excessive stress is involved.
Cartilage’s main function is friction reduction and shock absorption in joints and serves as a shock absorber. With osteoarthritis, joint cartilage becomes stiff and loses elasticity, making it more susceptible to damage, and over time the cartilage wears away, decreasing its cushioning ability. In advanced stages, the bones could rub against each other.
Living with Osteoarthritis
Although you should always consult with your doctor, keeping arthritic joints active as part of a healthy lifestyle is your best bet for successfully coping with osteoarthritis.
While true that medical alternatives exist for osteoarthritis, most are just ways to limit discomfort and do little or nothing to promote the effected joint’s usability. As with most things physically related, no easy button exists, and a natural, holistic approach using lifestyle choices remains the best bet.
The first line of defense is weight loss. Some estimates indicate that each pound of excess weight adds up to 3 pounds of load effect on weight-bearing joints. Protecting osteoarthritic-prone joints like knees, hips, and the spine will be aided by lightening the load.
Second, strengthen your muscles. Any joint is only as strong as the muscles and tendons holding it together. Resistance training is a good way to improve muscle strength, and a qualified personal trainer or physical therapist will help you develop a safe, effective program.
Third, increase your flexibility with a stretching regimen. One osteoarthritis effect can be contortion of the joint muscles and tendons attempting to compensate for the arthritic condition, which can contribute to irregular joint wear patterns and stress points.
Additionally, tight muscles and tendons can contribute to the feelings of joint discomfort. Tai Chi and yoga are two great ways to increase flexibility, and a physical therapist or qualified personal trainer can also help design a stretching regimen that’s right for you.
Fourth, get diet and nutrition right. Get the crud out of your diet, including fried foods, sugars, and excessive omega 6 oils. Limit your calories to achieve and maintain a weight level that’s right for you. Take dietary supplements to ensure your body gets the proper micronutrients.
We are what we eat, and a properly fed body is a healthier body that operates better from top to bottom. In functioning with osteoarthritis, optimal health will give you best odds to keep the effected joints operating at their best.
Fifth, find a sport and get into it. Maybe it’s master’s swimming, maybe it’s a local cycling club. Having an activity you like to participate in keeps you motivated to stay active, which equates to keep the joints moving. Having a sport or activity also tends to make all of the other keys fall into place by working towards something you care about.
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