JOINT HEALTH ADVICE
A joint is the connection between two bones. Our joints are used continuously every day but can become weakened and damaged due to aging, wear and tear, disease, or trauma. The best way to care for your joints is to keep them and your muscles, ligaments, and bones strong and stable
Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints that causes pain and immobility, ranging from mild to severe. In Ireland around 915,000 people, including 1 in every 1,200 children, are living with arthritis, making it the single biggest cause of disability. There are over 100 types of arthritis, but the most common forms are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although many symptoms of arthritis are shared across the conditions, (like pain, fatigue and inflammation), there are many unique to each disease too.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common of all types of arthritis. It usually occurs gradually over several years. The cause is unknown, but it does appear more in females than males and often starts after the menopause.
For some people the symptoms of osteoarthritis are so subtle and develop over such a long time that they are hardly noticed. For others, problems may worsen over several months or years. When the overall disease process finishes, joints may look knobbly, but are usually less painful. In some cases, they become pain free and, despite their appearance, still enable you to carry out most everyday tasks.
Osteoarthritis used to be considered wear and tear arthritis, but it is now understood that there are many more factors than age and use that contribute to the development of osteoarthritis – including obesity, past injury and genetics.
AGE AND EXERCISE
Age and exercise can break down synovial fluid in our joints – the naturally occurring fluid that cushions and protects every joint in the body – leading to bone-on-bone friction and inflammation. The resulting pain can impact with athletic performances and interfere with our daily activities.
TOP TIPS AND ADVICE FOR JOINT CARE
SUPPLEMENTS AND NUTRITION
- Taking appropriate supplements like those listed below can help alleviate discomfort and pain and help prevent further damage to your joints.
- Maintaining a balanced diet and healthy weight will furthermore support the nutritional needs and structure of your joints and bone. Carrying excess body weight adds stress to our joints, especially the weight-bearing joints.
- Following an anti-inflammatory diet and eating anti-oxidant rich foods can help reduce inflammation in the joints – try to include fruits like berries, dark leafy green vegetables, spices like turmeric, healthy fats like nuts and avocados and fish in your diet. Try to maintain the principles of the food pyramid in your diet.
- Calcium helps support bones and muscles and can be obtained from foods like cheese, yoghurts and milk or through supplements.
- Try to get some extra Vitamin D – soak up the sun for the summer but be mindful of skin protection using an SPF sun cream. Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption to keep bones strong and supports joints. Deficiency can cause bone pain, softness and brittleness, muscle pain and weakness and unexplained fatigue. Foods like eggs, milk and oily fish like salmon or sardines are good sources of Vitamin D.
Physical activity such as walking, cycling, swimming and aqua aerobics can help make it easier for you to complete everyday activities by:
- reducing stiffness and pain
- increasing your flexibility
- strengthening the muscles around your joints
- improving your overall fitness, energy levels and sense of wellbeing.
Regular physical activity will:
- increase bone strength (reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis)
- help you reach and maintain a healthier weight
- improve your balance, posture and coordination
Regular physical activity will also reduce your risk of developing other diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, bowel cancer and breast cancer. If you are not regularly active, or are overweight, start with bouts of 10 minutes of exercise every day. You can gradually increase the amount of time you are active. The aim is to reach a maintenance exercise regime of 30 minutes five times a week. Ensure you wear the correct footwear and stretch before and after each time you exercise. Go at your own pace and consider yoga, pilates and Tai Chi as options to improve flexibility. It is always important to balance activity with rest and don’t over do activities.
Always check with our experienced pharmacists if are currently taking medication or have pre-existing medical conditions.