Most of us have seen what the onset of arthritis has done to grandparents, parents, friends, even peers. Over 50 million Americans have been diagnosed with one form or another, and more than half of them are younger than retirement age. When all joint pain conditions are combined, they are the No. 1 cause of disability in the nation. And although arthritis can occur in any joint, the hands and feet are particularly vulnerable.
Unfortunately, you can’t always stop arthritis from coming. Many risk factors, such as age and family history, are outside your control. That said, adopting certain healthy habits and activities can indeed lower your risk of developing arthritis, delay its onset, or reduce its severity.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. The lighter you are, the less force you place on weight-bearing joints in the feet, ankles, and legs.
- Exercise. Engage in regular, moderate physical activity. Exercise helps keep your joints limber and strengthens the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support them. It also helps you control your weight and sugar, which increase arthritis risk.
- Protect your joints. Cartilage, the soft connective tissue that surrounds joint surfaces, doesn’t usually heal as well as other body tissues. That means injuries to the joints can result in early-onset post-traumatic arthritis, sometimes years after the initial injury. Make sure you play it safe, wear appropriate gear, and protect yourself from harm during physical activity.
- Keep your sugar in check. Diabetes is often associated with arthritis incidence. That’s because glucose can make joint cartilage stiffer and more prone to damage, and can cause systemic inflammation. Whether you have a diabetes diagnosis or not, keeping sugar under control helps protect joints (among other body systems).
- Quit smoking. Like the other items on this list, this is good general-purpose health advice. As it relates to arthritis, smoking is associated with higher rates of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic inflammatory disorder in which the body’s own immune system attacks joint linings.
Unfortunately, there’s still a lot about arthritic conditions that we don’t understand, and can’t yet cure. However, that doesn’t mean nothing can be done for your arthritis, or that you can’t live life to the fullest extent possible. If joint pain in the feet and ankles are impairing your lifestyle, give Advanced Foot & Ankle a call. You can schedule in either Twin Falls or Burley, ID at (208) 731-6321.