STIFF and achy joints are inevitable as you get older, but arthritis doesn’t have to be.
In fact, there are several steps you can take to help protect yourself from the inflammatory disease as you get older.
Arthritis is a common condition that affects about 10 million people in the UK.
The two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system targets affected joints, which leads to pain and swelling.
It affects more than 400,000 in the UK and women are three times more likely to be affected than men.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type and according to the NHS, affects around eight million people in the UK.
Arthritis can cause joint pain and tenderness, inflammation, restricted movement and muscle weakness and wasting.
There is no cure for the condition but according to Chris Salter, group manager at Forest Healthcare, there are several things you can do to prevent it.
1. Keep a healthy weight
Apart from being good for your health for a number of reasons, staying a healthy weight can help prevent arthritis.
“Being overweight is a significant cause of arthritis,” Chris said.
“Carrying excess weight on your body puts extra pressure on the hip and knee joints, making them weaker and more likely to become arthritic.
“Keeping a healthy weight can be achieved by regular exercise and cutting out refined sugar from the diet, as well as eating smaller portions.
“Speak to your doctor to find out more about losing weight, if you are concerned.”
2. Exercise your hands
No, your hands don’t need a treadmill.
But regularly flexing your fingers and wrists can help keep the joints healthy.
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“Regular hand exercises will strengthen muscles, relieve tension and stiffness, and help to keep tendons flexible,” Chris said.
“Flexing your fingers, rotating the wrists, and finger touching are small simple exercises that can be done anywhere anytime.”
3. Quit smoking
There are a myriad of reasons why you should quit smoking, including reducing your risk of cancer and heart disease.
But it can also help protect you from arthritis.
“Let’s face it, a majority of health problems can be prevented by stopping smoking,” Chris said.
“If you don’t smoke you are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.”
4. Quit typing
Any form of repetitive activity, like typing, increases your risk of arthritis.
Chris added: “Many jobs require repetitive activities such as typing or lifting heavy objects.
“Such activities can cause injury to the joints and increase the likelihood of developing arthritis.
“If you spend a lot of time on the computer, take precautions and invest in a special keyboard to support your wrists.”
5. Eat oily fish
Eating plenty of fatty acids and omega 3, found in oily fish like salmon, helps fight inflammation in your body.
And if you struggle to get enough of it in your diet consider a supplement.
“Diet contributes significantly to the development of dementia, and some vitamins and supplements can help to relieve the symptoms of dementia as well as prevent the disease,” Chris said.
“Fatty acids and omega 3 found in fish oils helps inflammatory arthritis.
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“Vitamin E can also help to repair cells around the joints, and can be gained from nuts, sunflower seeds and avocado.
“Being aware of the risks and preventative factors of arthritis will help to reduce the risks.
“So be mindful of the things you can do to keep your body happy and healthy.”
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