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Supporting Joint Health as You Age

Supporting Joint Health as You Age

Maintaining Your Joint Health

As you continue to age, experiencing joint pain caused by osteoarthritis is common. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t work to postpone and even prevent these joint issues altogether. Here’s what you should know when it comes to supporting your joint health during your golden years.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Sometimes referred to as wear and tear arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage that serves as a cushion between your bones breaks down. This causes joint movement to become painful, difficult, and can even cause inflammation.

Some of the most commonly affected joints include:

  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Lower back
  • Neck

Signs and symptoms that may suggest the presence of osteoarthritis include:

  • Joint pain during activity or at the end of the day
  • Joint stiffness after resting
  • Limited range of motion
  • Clicking or cracking with movement
  • Inflammation around affected joint
  • Joint buckling when weight is applied
  • Muscle weakness around affected joint

Because this chronic disease develops gradually and worsens over time, there are ways to manage the condition and minimize the associated symptoms.

Minimize Stress

When your body is under stress, your brain increases the production of hormones, like cortisol, which is often referred to as stress hormones. Although this hormone can be essential during certain circumstances, prolonged exposure to these hormones can result in a multitude of health complications—including the exacerbation of arthritic symptoms.

When your body is under stress, your body stiffens your muscles, preparing to deal with whatever stressful situation you are being faced with. This tenseness can worsen joint pain. Cortisol also triggers your immune system’s inflammatory response, which can cause further damage to your joints.

Although it is normal to experience varying levels of stress day-to-day, living with arthritis can make stress levels rise. Unfortunately, increased stress levels can also worsen the physical symptoms associated with chronic conditions. Luckily, you can manage your stress levels and keep them regulated by incorporating these tips into your everyday routine.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

When you’re overweight, there is unnecessary pressure on your supportive joints, like your hips, knees, and lower back. This can lead to the development of osteoarthritis due to the excess wear and tear on the joints. Another way excess weight can harm your joints is from the increased pressure and inflammation associated with weight gain.

You can work to maintain a healthy weight and support your joint health with the help of the following tips:

  • Utilize portion control. This helps you control your caloric intake while eating the appropriate amount of food.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables can help you to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Get regular exercise. Getting regular physical exercise helps you to get in shape, move your joints, and burn calories.
  • Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned that your weight is impacting your joint health, talk to your physician about your options.

Listen to Your body

When you experience persistent aches and pains, it can hinder your ability to perform day-to-day activities. Here are some signs and symptoms that may suggest it's time to talk to your orthopedic doctor about your options when it comes to your joint pain.

You Experience Pain Even While Resting

While arthritis or damage to the joint may cause pain during activities, relaxing and taking pressure off the affected joint should help to alleviate that discomfort If you're still experiencing joint pain while you're not actively using the joint, you should consider talking to your orthopedic specialist about pain management options.

Pain Impacts Your Ability to Complete Everyday Tasks

When it comes to everyday activities like climbing stairs, bending over, sitting, and getting into bed—joint pain can make these routine activities difficult and even seemingly impossible. If your weight-bearing joints like your hips or knees have become stiff and painful to move or lift, a replacement may be an appropriate treatment option for you.

Pain Management Techniques Are No Longer Helping

While pain management techniques like physical therapy, pain medications, and injections can provide temporary relief from your symptoms, severe joint pain and stiffness can persist. If you are looking for a more long-lasting treatment option for your joint, a replacement can last for up to 20 years.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is recommended that you speak with an orthopedic specialist about your treatment options.

Orthopedic Care in Jackson, Wilson, and Teton County

If you are experiencing persistent joint pain, it is important that you talk with an orthopedic specialist to accurately diagnose the cause of your discomfort and provide you with treatment options.

At St. John's Health’s Peak Joint & Spine Center, we have created a special program that brings together a team of experienced and expert surgeons with caring and specially trained nurses, therapists, and technicians. Our goal here is to provide seamless, coordinated care, and get you back to your favorite activities as soon as possible. Talk to one of the providers at the Peak Joint & Spine Center to learn more about treatment options.