Feeling achy? You’re not alone. Approximately 250 million people worldwide are affected by knee osteoarthritis. While shoulder osteoarthritis is not quite as common, it’s estimated that nearly 1 in 3 people over age 60 experience shoulder osteoarthritis to some degree. Globally, osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis – is on the rise. According to a study published in The Lancet, it’s predicted that nearly 1 billion people worldwide will be living with osteoarthritis by 2050.
That same study found that osteoarthritis is on the rise primarily because of three main factors: an aging population, rising obesity, and population growth. Though, there are many people today that are living longer but also staying active much later in life despite rising obesity levels. This is a good thing, but it’s also important to be aware of the potential causes and symptoms of osteoarthritis, and what you can do to lessen your chances of developing the condition. Doing so will not only support your physical capabilities today but can help set you up for a successful and active tomorrow!
Here are some of our best tips for decreasing your chances of developing osteoarthritis:
- Familiarize yourself with your family medical history: While you and your family’s medical history paints a picture of your past, understanding it can also help better prepare you for the future. It’s estimated that around 40-70% of osteoarthritis cases may have a genetic component. That means that if a close family member has osteoarthritis, you’re more likely to be diagnosed with osteoarthritis or experience osteoarthritis symptoms at some point. If osteoarthritis has played a role in your family’s medical history, make sure your doctor knows during your next check-up.
- Make staying active a priority: In 2023, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) found that body mass index (BMI) is a significant risk factor for the development of osteoarthritis. Keeping yourself healthy today will help lessen your chances of developing osteoarthritis in the long run. We suggest putting an exercise routine together and making fitness an ongoing part of your lifestyle.
- Maintain a healthy diet: Paying attention to your nutrition will also decrease your chances of developing osteoarthritis later in life. Listen to which foods make your body feel good and which don’t and consider talking to a dietician about a nutrition plan that works for you. As they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away! If you have already developed osteoarthritis, meals containing citrus, dark leafy greens and berries, fish, and anti-inflammatory oils will help reduce inflammation and ease joint pain.
- Be mindful of mental health: A lot of times physical health and mental health go together without us even knowing. Long-term stress can manifest itself physically over time through dizziness, high blood pressure, and body aches. Stress also impacts sleep. It is common for those with osteoarthritis to have trouble sleeping. Reducing stress now by prioritizing your mental health will allow your joints to stay pain-free in the future. If you already have trouble sleeping because of stress or anxiety, talk to a mental health professional today to set yourself up for success later.
While you may not be able to completely control whether you develop osteoarthritis, there are ways to take care of yourself that will reduce your risk of joint pain.
Are you living with osteoarthritis or joint pain and eager to know what solutions might be available? Connect with a local surgeon using our Find a Doctor tool to get to know our offerings.