The prevalence of arthritis in the United States is eye-opening: The Arthritis Foundation states that more than 92 million American adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis or report arthritis symptoms. Making matters worse, our population is aging, which means these numbers will rise in the foreseeable future.
Accounting for a large share of these numbers is osteoarthritis (OA), which is a degenerative form of the disease that currently affects 32.5 million people.
Since OA is degenerative and progressive, we want to take this opportunity to review some ways that you can slow the progression of the disease, which means mitigating any risk factors that are under your control to change.
Osteoarthritis at a glance
Before we get into the factors that place you more at risk for OA, let’s quickly review what we’re up against. OA occurs when the cartilage inside your joints begins to break down. Without this protective tissue, your bones can rub together, causing pain and inflammation.
As we mentioned, OA is degenerative, and there’s no cure for the disease as your cartilage doesn’t enjoy a good blood supply, which affects its ability to regenerate itself.
While we’re making great headway using regenerative medicine to restore function and relieve pain in your joints, there’s much you can do on your own to help.
Risk factors for OA that are out of your control
There are many factors that can contribute to the development of OA, and several are beyond your control to change, such as:
- Gender — women are more susceptible
- Previous injury
For the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to focus on a few areas where you can make a difference.
Carrying an extra burden
Your musculoskeletal system is designed for a certain load, and when you carry excess weight, you’re taxing this system, especially your joints.
One of the first things you can do to improve your OA is to lose weight, which takes the pressure off of your beleaguered joints.
Your joints are designed for movement and rely on great support systems, such as soft tissues like your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, these soft tissues weaken and stiffen, which can place more stress on your joints.
If you get out and exercise (even a simple walk around the neighborhood), you can strengthen your soft tissues to spread out the workload more evenly in your joints. As well, movement can often offset inflammation, which will relieve your pain.
On the flip side of the movement equation are people who overuse or overstress their joints. We applaud the fact that you enjoy an active lifestyle, but we urge you to listen to your body when your joints begin to ache. At the first signs of trouble, you should come see us so that we can design a treatment plan that will take some of the stress off your arthritic joints.
Addressing your osteoarthritis
A great way to find relief from your arthritis is to explore the role that our regenerative medicine services can play, including platelet-rich plasma therapy and lipogems adipose/fat therapy. Our goal with these therapies is to supply your joints with the resources they need to regenerate and rebuild themselves on a cellular level.
If you’d like to learn more about the best way to treat your osteoarthritis, contact our office in Westfield, New Jersey, to set up an appointment.