Many people have heard the term arthritis. It is the condition Grandma or Grandpa had that made their hands ache. In medicine, we often use the term osteoarthritis when discussing the degenerative condition that causes a joint, often the hip or knee, to become painful and stiff. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that buffers two bones wears down. Without sufficient cartilage between them, the bones rub together, creating grinding and friction. Over time, this results in further wear and tear to the bone.
Due to the persistent symptoms that stem from bone-on-bone contact in the joint, osteoarthritis can be a challenging condition to live with. Discomfort can affect the performance of normal daily activities. According to research, though, there are ways in which this degenerative condition can be managed.
1. Manage weight. We understand that this can be a frustrating tip to accept. When pain is present all the time, it can be difficult to engage in exercise. The problem is that extra weight on the body’s frame, and its joints, is physically stressful. This is especially true for the hips and knees. For this reason, weight management is considered both corrective and preventative when it comes to osteoarthritis. When pain is present, exercises like swimming or aqua aerobics may be a good place to start. Eating habits can also be modified bit by bit to reduce weight or maintain it. Tips include eating no less than 4 hours before bedtime, trading soda for water, and avoiding snacks throughout the day.
2. Strength training for the joints. The joints are stabilized and supported by muscles around them. Therefore, surgeons agree that toning the muscles around joints is an excellent strategy for preventing and managing osteoarthritis. Walking on a treadmill or using an elliptical machine is one way to strengthen joints. For those who are able, walking in the sand or a pool may also be appropriate. In some cases, physical therapy may be recommended so specific exercises can be taught.
3. Talk with a specialist. Joint pain that persists regardless of lifestyle habits may need to be treated with medical therapies. Every situation is unique, so a joint specialist should be consulted. What works for one person may not work for another, so attempting to manage joint pain in the same way a friend or a family member has done may result in unnecessary frustration and a worsening joint problem.
At Hartzband Center for Hip & Knee Replacement in Paramus, NJ, knees and hips are what we do; all day, every day. To schedule a consultation, call 201.291.4040.