Arthritis affects one in three adults in the United States. The fact that our population is increasingly overweight, inactive, and aging is contributing to the rapid increase in arthritis.
Arthritis accounts for 39 million physician visits and more than a half-million hospital visits each year, at an annual cost of $86.2 billion.
You can take steps to prevent or limit the progression of this disease. Studies show small changes can help in reducing the impact of arthritis.
- Don’t ignore joint pain that lasts for more than two weeks. See your doctor and get a specific diagnosis. There are more than 100 forms of arthritis.
- Lose weight: The more you weigh the more stress you put on your joints. Losing as little as 11 pounds can reduce joint pain and help prevent some forms of arthritis by 50 percent.
- Get active: Regular exercise protects joints by strengthening the muscles around them, lessens pain, and reduces fatigue.
- Healthy diet: Eat a balanced, healthy diet. Vitamin C and other antioxidants lessen the risk of osteoarthritis.
- Quit smoking: Smoking can reduce bone mass, leading to osteoporosis and a greater risk of fractures. Kick the habit.
- Relax: Be good to yourself. Stress is a common trigger of joint pain. Treat yourself to a massage or a warm bath. Both relieve muscle tension and ease joint pain.
Remember … better emotional health often equals better physical health.
IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.