Robert J. Snyder, MD
Arthritis is one of the most common ailments for which patients seek medical care because it causes pain and often disability. My patients often ask me “Is there anything I can do to lessen my chances of developing arthritis?” The answer is yes and no. In this article, I will address the things that you can and can’t change about your body and your lifestyle when it comes to your risks of developing arthritis.
What you Can’t Change
- Your Genes
It is a given that if your parents suffered from arthritis, chances are more likely that you will also. Your DNA, inherited from your parents, often predicates whether you will develop arthritis and how severe it may become.
- Your Age
The older you are the more likely you are to develop osteoarthritis. This is simply the kind of arthritis that develops in the joints from wear and tear as we age.
If you have had an injury to a specific joint, chances are you will develop arthritis in that joint at some point in your life.
What You Can Change
- Your Weight
Maintaining a normal body weight is probably the best thing that you can do to prevent or lessen your chances of developing arthritis. Losing weight greatly reduces the stress on your joints, particularly your hips, knees and ankles, and can even prevent the necessity of joint replacement for severe arthritis.
- Your Activity Level
Exercise has been proven to help keep joints mobile and less painful, even with arthritis. You don’t have to run a marathon or be a gym rat – just get off the couch and get moving. Take a walk, work in your garden, run around with your grandkids, take a swim…all of these activities are free, easy and can help you keep arthritis pain at bay.
- Your Nutrition
Eat healthful, nutritious foods and follow an anti-inflammatory diet, such as the Mediterranean Diet, which consists of lean proteins, seafood, olive oil, fresh vegetables and whole grains. Avoid foods proven to have an inflammatory affect on the body, such as sugars, dairy and carbohydrates.
Let’s face it…there are just some things you can’t change in life. However, by making the decision to do these three things suggested above, you could have a significant impact on your health and well-being, not to mention greatly reducing the pain and disability you might experience from arthritis. Help yourself live the best life possible by starting today.