Believe it or not, arthritis is a collection of over 100 different types of joint disease. Over 58 million adults have arthritis 一 although children can develop juvenile arthritis 一 and it’s listed as a leading cause of disability. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis, and it develops from wear-and-tear in your joints. Osteoarthritis can develop in your hands, spine, and weight-bearing joints such as your knees.
When your knees are impacted, it can severely limit your quality of life and your mobility. It can be difficult to walk from place to place, bend down to tie your shoes, and perform other daily tasks.
Dr. Dustin Hamoy, DPT, MTC, DNC, CKTP, CWCHP offers cutting-edge treatment for knee arthritis 一 including MLS laser therapy 一 but we also want to focus on arthritis prevention whenever possible. Below, we share the top tips to protect your knee joints.
Some risk factors for arthritis, such as age, are unavoidable. However, many risk factors are within your control. Being overweight and repetitive use, for example, are two risk factors that you can control. With that in mind, let’s focus on the proactive steps you can take.
Moderate exercise is an excellent way to promote healthy knee joints. Why? When you build up the muscles around your knees, it reduces the stress placed on your joints. When you take a step, for instance, the muscles in your thighs and calves help support your knees 一 without ample muscle, your knees take the brunt of the impact.
Strengthening your leg muscles keeps your joints healthy, decreases bone loss, and helps manage any swelling and pain that you may already have. As a bonus, regular exercises encourage your body to replenish lubrication (synovial fluid) to the cartilage of the joint. This helps reduce stiffness and pain.
If you’re too weak to head to the gym for a workout on your own, physical therapy can provide tailored guidance, so you can still strengthen your muscles with specific exercises for your knees.
One caveat: Overuse is a risk factor for knee injuries and knee arthritis. Always warm up and cool down with every workout. Consider cross-training or adding some non-weight bearing activities into your routine to keep things fresh.
Maintain a healthy weight
Exercise also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which can further reduce your risk of knee arthritis. For every one extra pound you carry, you put about four extra pounds of pressure on your knees. That means, if you’re 10 pounds overweight, your knees receive an additional 40 pounds of pressure. Losing weight (if needed) and maintaining a healthy weight can be key factors in arthritis prevention.
Inflammation can damage your joints, and your knees are no exception. Though diet won’t guarantee that you won’t get arthritis, it plays a role in the amount of inflammation in your body.
Foods that promote inflammation in your body include:
- Processed foods
- Food high in sugar
- Refined white products, such as white sugar and white bread
- Red meat
- Margarine and other shortening
- Fried foods
- Soda and other sugary beverages
Foods that fight inflammation include:
- Cold water fish (especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids)
- Nuts, especially walnuts
- Chia seeds
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Berries high in antioxidants
- Olive oil
- Onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks
Not only are the berries good, but juice made from berries is also beneficial. Research published in the journal Nutrients highlighted that a daily glass of pomegranate juice decreased body-wide inflammation thanks to its high content of ellagic acid, a natural anti-inflammatory.
Consider joint-friendly supplements
Although whole food is always a good method for consuming your necessary vitamins and minerals, sometimes you need a little boost. These supplements can help support healthy joint functions:
Reminder: Never start supplements unless advised to do so. Some may have drug interactions, and some may not be intended for long-time use.
Don’t put off joint care
If your knees are achy and sore, don’t wait for them to get worse before you reach out for help.
Call Precision Laser Joint and Spine Pain Center at 410-324-2968 to book your consultation. You can also book an appointment online.