About 50 million Americans experience some form of painful arthritis. While this degenerative joint disease takes many forms, the most common is osteoarthritis, or OA, frequently located in the knee joint.
What Causes Knee Arthritis?
Knee arthritis is a chronic orthopaedic condition characterized by pain, stiffness, swelling, tenderness, and poor mobility. In particular, osteoarthritis targets weight-bearing joints, such as the knee. OA wears down the articular cartilage, c-shaped menisci (cushions), and lubricating synovial fluid in the knee.
While heredity plays a role in OA development, other factors result in this progressively debilitating disease. These include:
- Age (60 and over)
- Gender (more women than men have OA)
- Smoking (nicotine increases inflammation and robs joints of valuable oxygen)
- Alcohol abuse
- Traumatic injury
- Elevated blood sugar levels
- Sedentary habits (the proverbial couch potato)
- Stress (the body produces fight or flight chemicals which ramp up pain and inflammation)
How Can I Reduce My Risk of Developing Knee Arthritis?
That is a vital question because while you cannot avoid the genes you come with–and arthritis does run in families–you can mitigate other factors by employing the common strategies below to keep yourself functional and independent.
#1 Watch your weight.
Excess body weight literally crushes your joints. So, stay within your ideal weight range as determined by you and your primary care physician.
#2 Control your blood glucose levels.
High blood sugar increases the body’s inflammatory processes, thus increasing the intensity of symptoms associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. So, if you are a type 1 or type 2 diabetic, stick with your diabetes management plan and see your PCP if your sugars are increasing or fluctuating.
#3 Stay physically active.
Move purposefully every day, particularly if you sit or stand for prolonged periods for your job. Incorporate walking, swimming, or cycling into your week, and aim for 150 minutes of these joint-friendly exercise routines. They control weight, send oxygen to your joints, and improve range of motion and flexibility.
#4 De-stress your life.
Both physical and emotional stress increase knee arthritis. So, be careful how much you lift, wear proper footwear on the job and for sports, and watch repetitive motions, such as jumping and running.
Also, because your body’s stress chemicals, such as cortisol, impact your cardiovascular system and joints, learn to slow down, breathe deeply, and pray or meditate. These practices help control harmful stress.
#5 Avoid cigarettes and limit alcohol.
Cigarettes and alcohol increase inflammation and decrease wound healing. Seek out a supervised smoking cessation program through your PCP, and keep alcohol consumption at no more than one drink daily or no drink.
#6 Get evaluated by a skilled orthopaedic surgeon in Boynton Beach.
If you notice knee pain or other joint symptoms, don’t wait. Get a comprehensive arthritis evaluation by your orthopaedic doctor in Boynton Beach. Arthritis is a progressive disease, but it can be managed and limited in severity if you act on it immediately.
Personalized Orthopaedics of The Palm Beaches
Prevention is always better than invasive surgeries and medications. So, if you think you are at risk for knee arthritis or are starting some symptoms, such as knee pain, contact Personalized Orthopaedics of The Palm Beaches in Boynton Beach, FL.
Our on-site physical therapists and six board-certified orthopaedic surgeons fully assess patients of all ages. We have the latest in imaging techniques and treatment modalities, including the most effective methods to keep your knees and other bony joints supple and functional.
To know more or schedule a consultation, call us today at (561) 733-5888, or request your appointment online.
We would love to help you avoid knee arthritis.