Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common degenerative disorder that affects more than 300 million people worldwide.¹ Cartilage is a ‘shock absorber’ that covers the joints between bones, helping to protect and cushion them.² Due to various factors, the cartilage can break down over time and this leads to osteoarthritis which can cause joint pain, swelling and stiffness.²
The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is joint pain that tends to worsen with activity. Understandably, osteoarthritis can result in a poor quality of life.
Read on to learn more about how you can prevent osteoarthritis.
1. Physical activity
There are studies that conclude the potential link between weak thigh muscles and risk of developing knee osteoarthritis.³ Thus, it is important to maintain strong muscles by exercising. Low weight-bearing exercises can help to improve joint health. These may include swimming, elliptical training and cycling.
Regular exercise can also help relieve joint pain and stiffness if you already have osteoarthritis.⁴ You can always approach your doctor or physiotherapist for more advice on an exercise regimen.
2. Manage your weight
Obesity is a well-known risk factor for knee osteoarthritis. This is due to the high stress on the knees, low levels of physical activities and more inflammation from fat tissues.⁵ Therefore, losing some weight can help prevent osteoarthritis. You can do this by doing low impact exercises and reducing caloric intake. Try eating more healthily by not overeating and avoiding fatty or oily foods.
1. Take joint supplements
Supplements such as Indian frankincense, turmeric and glucosamine have been studied to maintain joint health, reduce pain and improve function. For example, Aflapin™ (patented formulation of Indian frankincense) helps to build joint cartilage, slow down wear and tear of joints and reduce inflammation.⁶
Glucosamine, usually in combination with chondroitin, is a naturally occurring compound found in healthy cartilage. They are both found to relieve joint pain and slow the rate of joint destruction and cartilage loss.⁷
2. Avoid Injuries
Joint injuries can lead to post-traumatic osteoarthritis, caused by trauma-related joint degeneration. To avoid joint injuries especially during exercise:⁸'⁹
Select sports or exercise programs that is low impact on joints
Wear proper footwear that provides good impact absorption
Run on softer surfaces that decrease joint impact, such as on dedicated running tracks built from synthetic rubber. Avoid running on concrete.
Stretch your body before doing intense exercises
Alternate sports or exercise activities to decrease repetition of same patterns of joint loading and motion
3. Eat Healthy
There is no specific diet that prevents osteoarthritis. However, eating a well-balanced diet can help maintain an ideal weight, which is beneficial for your joints. Aside from that, if you are unable to obtain enough nutrients from your diet, you can always take joint supplements which may help prevent the progression of cartilage loss.
Osteoarthritis is a common disorder that affects many across the world.
Osteoarthritis can lead to disability and poor quality of life.
Low impact exercises and weight management are important to reduce risk factors for Osteoarthritis.
Safiri S, Kolahi A, Smith E, et al. Global, regional and national burden of osteoarthritis 1990-2017: a systematic analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 2020; 79:819-828
Loeser RF. Pathogenesis of osteoarthritis. In: UpToDate, Post, TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2021
Øiestad BE, Juhl CB, Culvenor AG, Berg B, Thorlund JB. Knee extensor muscle weakness is a risk factor for the development of knee osteoarthritis: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis including 46 819 men and women. Br J Sports Med. 2021 Dec 16:bjsports-2021-104861. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2021-104861
Sinusas K. Osteoarthritis: Diagnosis and Treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2012 Jan 1;85(1):49-56
Roos EM, Arden NK. Strategies for the prevention of knee osteoarthritis. Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2016 Feb;12(2):92-101
Sengupta K, Kolla JN, Krishnaraju AV, et al. Cellular and molecular mechanisms of anti-inflammatory effect of Aflapin: a novel Boswellia serrata extract. Mol Cell Biochem. 2011;354(1-2):189-197
Zhu X, Sang L, Wu D, Rong J, Jiang L. Effectiveness and safety of glucosamine and chondroitin for the treatment of osteoarthritis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Orthop Surg Res. 2018;13(1):170. Published 2018 Jul 6. doi:10.1186/s13018-018-0871-5
Buckwalter JA. Sports, joint injury, and posttraumatic osteoarthritis. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2003 Oct;33(10):578-88
Osteoarthritis: Prevention Tips. HealthXchange. Available from: https://www.healthxchange.sg/bones-joints/arthritis/how-to-prevent-osteoarthritis
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