5 Effective Ways To Reduce Your Risk of Arthritis Before It’s Too Late

5 Effective Ways to reduce Your Risk of Arthritis

If you feel pain and inflammation in your joints, you may be one of six million Canadians (that’s one in five) suffering from arthritis. There are over 100 different types of arthritis. Risk factors of developing arthritis include genetics, age, sex, obesity or previous injuries. The good news is that there are proactive steps you can take to reduce this risk before it begins. Read on to discover five effective ways to reduce your risk of arthritis before it’s too late.

Stretch & Exercise to Maintain a Healthy Weight

Regular exercise and maintaining control over your weight are important steps toward reducing your risk of arthritis. This is because the extra weight you may be carrying around can put extra pressure on your hips, knees and joints. Each pound of weight you gain puts an additional four pounds of strain on your knees and six times the pressure on your hip joints. The added pressure on your joints causes the breakdown of cartilage.

Also important to note is that when you gain weight, the production of a protein called cytokine also increases. Cytokines are known for speeding up the breakdown of precious cartilage. These problematic proteins are linked to the inflammation seen in rheumatoid arthritis, causing organ and joint damage.

Daily low-impact exercises, such as swimming, cycling or walking, can help reduce your risk of arthritis. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of activity at least five times per week. This exercise will help strengthen the muscles attached to your joints, which act as support for your hips & knees. Gentle stretching is also a beneficial way to reduce your risk of arthritis. Stretching keeps you limber and increases your range of motion.

Avoid Injuries

Speaking of exercise, you should be careful not to overdo it. When you injure a joint, that joint is immediately at a higher risk of developing arthritis compared to a healthy joint. Take care when exercising or playing sports by protecting yourself with the right safety equipment. Overuse of joints can also create “wear and tear” process that contribute to the most common form of arthritis called osteoarthritis.

Quit Smoking

It’s common knowledge that smoking is bad for your health. But did you realize that smoking can increase your risk of rheumatoid arthritis? This is because smoking causes problems with breathing and your blood circulation, which can limit your ability to exercise and to have blood pumping through your joints properly, and therefore increases your risk of developing arthritis. Exercise helps maintain flexibility in your joints and strengthen the muscles that support your joints.

Tobacco smoke also causes your body to produce higher quantity of highly-damaging cytokines which, as mentioned before, can cause organ and joint damage.

Introduce Fish Into Your Diet

If you don’t eat fish (at least twice weekly), it’s a great way to introduce omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. According to Arthritis Society Canada, one of the many benefits of omega-3s is that they are You can find omega-3s in fatty fish such as anchovies, salmon, bluefin tuna, striped bass, whitefish, mackerel, black cod and herring.

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids may also lower blood pressure and even slow down the buildup of plaque in your arteries, leading to a lower chance of heart attack or stroke.

Keep Your Blood Sugar In-Check

High blood sugar can lead to diabetes, which causes inflammation and joint pain in  multiple ways. Inflammation from diabetes leads to the deterioration of irreplaceable cartilage. If your diabetes is uncontrolled, it can seriously affect your skeleton & muscles leading to nerve damage, joint pain and arthritis. High blood sugar can also stiffen cartilage and make your joints more sensitive to stress & strain.                     

If you experience joint pain and inflammation, check out this arthritis risk factor assessment tool on the Arthritis Society Canada website to discover what type of arthritis you may be at risk of developing. As always, you should book an appointment with your doctor to discuss any health concerns you may have. Ask your doctor about anti-inflammatory supplements that may help your joint pain & inflammation.

Easy Ways to Minimize Joint Problems in Cold Weather This Fall

With the colder seasons fast approaching, joint pain, stiffness, and discomfort will unfortunately be on the rise. Joint problems and cold weather seem to go hand in hand.

To help you keep your joints healthy and functioning properly through the cooler months, we’ve put together a list of easy ways to minimize joint problems in cold weather this fall.

But first, let’s dive into the reasons why colder weather can worsen your joint issues.

What is Joint Pain, Exactly?

Joint troubles can be an everyday discomfort or even pain experienced by one in six Canadians, especially as we age. We often think about our knee joints, but since we have joints all over our bodies, pain can be experienced in a variety of places. Knee, shoulder, and hip are pretty common complaints.

There is not one type or cause of joint pain. It can involve discomfort, pain, or inflammation in any part of a joint (bone, tendon, ligaments, cartilage, or muscle)and can make walking, climbing up and down stairs, for instance, very challenging.

Not surprisingly, joint pain can greatly affect a person’s quality of life and ability to perform basic, day-to-day tasks.

The two most common types of joint pain/arthritis are known as:

  • Osteoarthritis, which affects the cartilage between bones after wear and tear or overuse
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, which involves the immune system attacking joint tissues

Why do I have joint pain?

Joint pain is not a guaranteed misfortune that comes with aging, though more than 50% of people over 65 years of age will experience achy joints.

The severity and location of joint issues can be dependent on previous and current physical activity, injuries, genetics, and overuse.

While joint pain is more likely to happen in older adults, you can also have arthritic pain at a younger age if you sustained an injury (e.g., car accident) that causes chronic pain, if you were/are an athlete, or because of your genes.

Why do my joint problems worsen in cold weather?

Cold weather brings relief for many who find summer temperatures uncomfortable, but the opposite is true when it comes to your joints.

It has been a longstanding belief that joint sufferers experience greater pain during the cold and snowy weather. Research and testimonials have confirmed this is true! It turns out that cold environment does not cause joint pain or arthritis, but can increase the painful symptoms.

For those who love the nitty gritty details, here is the science behind why you may feel achier when colder weather approaches. The pressure within the Earth’s atmosphere will change depending on the weather. This is known as atmospheric or barometric pressure. As pressure drops with colder weather, our joints may start to swell, which creates discomfort.

It’s science, sure, but that doesn’t mean this is something anyone wants to put up with for every chilly season that comes along.

Joint pain and the cold

Stay warm

How can we combat the extra discomfort and pain cold weather brings to our joints?

First, bundle, bundle, bundle! When you are out in the cold, it is smart to wear loose, layered clothing to trap your body’s heat and keep your joints warm.

Pay attention to what joints are causing you the most discomfort and focus on keeping those joints out of the cold. For example, if you experience arthritis in the hands, be sure to wear thick gloves or mittens to reduce any aches and stiffness. You might not feel the cold right away, but your joints will react to any changes in your environment.

Continuing the same theme, feel free to use warmth to your, and your joints’, benefit! Heat therapy is a common trick to keep your joints loose and mobile. These treatments can include heating pads placed inside mittens or and warm showers/baths following cold exposure.

Eat a healthy diet

Did you know that delicious as they may be, sugary foods can cause achy joints to ache even more? As mentioned on our other blog posts, inflammatory diets can lead to a cascade of negative health effects.

Foods that contribute to high cholesterol such as saturated fats, excess sugar, and processed foods are also linked to obesity, which will take its own toll on your already struggling joints.

With that in mind, your joints will thank you if you try to eat an anti-inflammatory diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole foods (stay away from processed foods!) to result in less overall inflammation in the body.

Avoid stress

Stress management is key, though it’s not always easy. The fact is, being stressed can trigger constant tension and inflammation in the body which can worsen joint issues.

At times, arthritic symptoms can cause its own vicious stress cycle of fatigue, pain, and low-quality sleep. This chronic stress can lead to lower desire and motivation to exercise and eat a healthy diet, which will further contribute to joint pain.

Bottom line: Listen to your body if you are working it too hard.

Tip: If you notice that stress is a part of your life, consider a relaxing type of exercise to help bring your body to ease such as yoga or meditation.

Stay active

It’s true: lack of physical activity can cause joints to become stiff and sore.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends that is you are struggling with joint pain you should engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. That divides out to about 20 minutes a day…that seems doable, right?

Low-impact aerobic exercise can improve joint strength and flexibility, boost energy, and help to ease pain of your joints and surrounding areas.

Amanda Nelson, MD, discussed this topic in an interview and simply stated, “First things first: you just have to start”. Meaning, if you are not used to partaking in any athletic activities, perhaps you can work your way up to a 20-minute session. Still, there is no shame in doing a shorter one! It’s all about just beginning and getting into a routine.

Get out there and make those joints happy any way you can. And don’t forget to warm up and stretch those muscles and joints before you go out in the cold weather!

So what kind of exercise should you be doing?

It is a great idea to target the three facets of fitness: strength, endurance, and flexibility.

  • Low-impact aerobics (such as walking, biking, and swimming)
  • Muscle strengthening (such as weight training and resistance bands)
  • Balance and flexibility (such as yoga and tai chi)

Consider a joint health supplement

Genuwell - Joint Health - Kondor PharmaFor added support to keep your joints healthy as we head into the cooler fall months, Kondor Pharma created a natural health product called Genuwell for this exact purpose.

This gluten-free, vegetarian supplement is geared toward addressing inflammation, the primary cause of most joint issues and pain.

As always, be sure to talk to your doctor before trying any new natural health product.