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Home > For a Fantastic 2024 – Do These Four Things for Your Bones & Joints

For a Fantastic 2024 – Do These Four Things for Your Bones & Joints

dr carlsonJeffrey R. Carlson, MD, MBA, CPE, FAAOS

It’s the beginning of another new year and like most of us, I tend to think of what I can do personally and professionally to challenge myself, to learn a new skill and grow mentally, or how I can improve my health and overall well-being.  Maybe that means exploring a new hobby, reading a new book once a week, taking an on-line class, joining a gym, walking a mile every day…you get the picture.

As an orthopaedic physician, I often write articles about topics that will benefit my patients.  With New Year’s resolutions in mind, I compiled a list of the top four actions you can take to help your bones and joints be healthy in 2024.  They are as follows:

  • Lose weight: I know, you’ve heard about the health benefits of losing weight from many physicians.  But did you know that losing weight causes less pressure on the joints of your body, which will in turn, help the cartilage inside your joints last longer? Worn cartilage is what we clinically call degenerative arthritis.  By taking care of the cartilage in your joints, you will have less pain and more function for longer in your life.  Who knows, you might even avoid joint replacements altogether!

Make it your goal to cut calories by 300-500 a day.  Most of us can easily do that by cutting out sodas, that morning sausage biscuit with cheese, or the snack bag of chips every night. You don’t have to pay big bucks to join a fancy diet plan or spend all your time tracking what you eat.  Just be mindful about what you put in your body, and make it clean, unprocessed and nutritious. In time, those small changes add up to significant losses.

  • Exercise: Exercise goes together with #1.  In addition, it will help you maintain the muscular strength around your joints.  Strong muscles and ligaments keep our joints aligned so that they move correctly.  Abnormal motion in joints causes damage to the cartilage and injury to the supporting structures.  Good muscular strength will help you with your balance and protect you from falls.

You don’t have to become a gym rat or buy expensive equipment.  Get outside and take the dog for a walk.  Do some yoga or tai chi along with a video.  Rake leaves or work in the yard.  Play ball with your grandkids. When watching TV, do jumping jacks during all the commercials.  Just move and keep moving. Do some type of activity for at least 30 minutes every day.

  • Limit alcohol consumption: Speaking of falls, alcohol is a leading cause of falls.  Some medications, dehydration and poor balance can make you more vulnerable to falls, and adding alcohol makes the possibilities even greater.

Alcohol is also known to interfere with bone remodeling, decreasing bone density and increasing the likelihood of fractures. It is also known to increase inflammation in the joints and excessive drinking is significantly associated with higher rates of knee osteoarthritis.

Heavy alcohol consumption can also cause avascular necrosis (AVN) which is a serious disruption of blood flow to the bone, causing painful bone death. AVN usually occurs at the termination point of a bone at the joint and most commonly occurs in the hip.  Orthopaedists perform many hip replacements due to alcohol abuse.

  • Stop smoking: Smoking raises inflammatory factors in the body that can cause worsening arthritis. Smoking also displaces oxygen in the blood and can increase your risk for dizziness and falls.  Research also associates smoking with increased body pain, specifically back, joint, abdominal, and chronic pain.

Make 2024 the year you get serious about your health and your bones and joints will thank you!

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