Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle
As baby boomers reach the age when they can retire, it’s clear they won’t spend their “golden years” sitting and watching time go by. This generation has made staying active a priority, despite the physical challenges they may encounter over time.
At any age, excessive exercise can take a toll on important joints, such as the knees. Adults over the age of 45 are more at risk to develop a common condition known as osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. More than 10 million Americans live with OA of the knee – a chronic, degenerative disease that can greatly limit everyday activity and can be very painful.
According to Dr. Alan Beyer of the Newport Orthopedic Institute in Newport Beach, Calif., in order to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, those who suffer from OA of the knee can minimize the pain by following these tips:
1. Know your body. Pay attention to how you are feeling. You should see a doctor if you are experiencing pain and stiffness in your joints for more than two weeks. Getting an accurate diagnosis and the right treatment quickly can mean less joint damage and less pain.
2. Move around. Exercise can increase your range of motion, reduce fatigue, and help lessen pain. Walking is usually a good exercise for people with osteoarthritis. Walking strengthens muscles, builds stronger bones, and accomplishes these results with minimal impact to your joints. Talk to your doctor about which exercises may be appropriate for you.
3. Take it off. Extra weight means extra stress on your knees, which can exacerbate osteoarthritis. Extra body weight can make your joints wear out faster. Extra weight can also make exercise a daunting task. If you would like to take off the extra weight, but are limited by knee pain, ask a physician about FDA-approved treatment options for managing pain associated with OA of the knee. Joint fluid replacement treatments, such as Synvisc, can provide relief, and allow for a healthy, active lifestyle.
4. Talk to your doctor. Doctor-patient communication is important. In order for your doctor to assess and treat your osteoarthritis properly, you must give him or her a good description of your pain, stiffness, and joint function and how these have changed over time.
5. Take a break. Exercise is great for your joints, but knowing when to stop is important. You need to recognize when your body is telling you to slow down or stop.
6. Pack it on. An ice pack can help ease joints that are hot and inflamed. The cold can decrease the pain and swelling by constricting blood vessels and preventing fluids from leaking into surrounding tissue.
7. Ride it out. Sitting in a car for long periods of time can cause your joints to become stiff and sore. To avoid this, try stopping about every hour and a half, get out of the car and stretch.