Vail HealthSmart column: Arthritis
VAIL CO, Colorado
Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis – you probably know that’s an old wives’ tale. Though it could injure ligaments around the joints and lead to weaker grips, there’s no proof every pop puts you one step closer to arthritis – specifically osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) develops when the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones in your joints breaks down. The bones then begin to rub against one another, causing pain. OA is the most common form of arthritis, but there’s no cure, so the more you know, the better. Here are three more misconceptions about OA:
Myth: Arthritis is a natural part of aging.
Yes, it usually appears after age 45. And yes, the older you are, the more wear and tear you have. But not every older adult develops osteoarthritis. Obesity is also a major risk factor – more weight means more stress on lower body joints.
Myth: Meds should be your first line of treatment.
Reduce pain and improve joint function – that’s the goal of osteoarthritis treatment, and medications (from over-the-counter acetaminophen to prescription pain pills) certainly help. But according to the Arthritis Foundation, simply moving your body is the best medicine for OA, and it’s an effective first step. Gentle exercises, such as walking or swimming, help strengthen muscles and bones, increase flexibility and make joints more stable. That’ll also help you lose weight, which will further reduce joint strain.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
Myth: Supplements cure joint pain.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are two that are reputed to battle osteoarthritis, but an analysis of 10 studies showed these supplements don’t do much to relieve pain associated with knee and hip OA. Another supplement that probably doesn’t work: vitamin D. It has been suggested it can help treat knee OA, but it does not appear to lessen the symptoms or slow its progression.