So if you’re starting to feel a bit less flexible than you used to, or even if you’re not, the time to start giving extra love to your joints is now. Making a diligent effort to protect and move your joints in your 40s can do a lot to help ward off exacerbated pain, stiffness, and maybe even joint replacement surgery down the road.
What happens to joints as you age
As we age, we tend to lose elasticity and strength in our tendons and ligaments, causing joint motion to become more restricted and less flexible. In fact, a flexibility study found that, once both men and women hit age 30-40, flexibility drops markedly and just keeps going downhill.
At the same time, the cartilage that acts as a cushion between the bones of the joints also begins to break down, leading to inflammation and one of the most common culprits for joint pain — arthritis.
What are the most common causes of joint pain?
Osteoarthritis affects 27 million Americans. It’s a degenerative disease that can develop genetically, but may also be more likely in people who are overweight or have put a lot of stress on their joints over the years. In some cases, the cartilage can completely disappear, causing the bones to scrape against each other during movement.
If your joint pain isn’t related to arthritis, the other likely cause is tendinitis. Aging causes your tendons to lose some elasticity, which can lead to not only stiffness and inflammation, but a higher risk of injury. And it is more common in adults over 40.
What helps with joint pain?
The best ways to keep your joints healthy is to keep your joints moving. Stretching and exercising them every day is essential to fend off stiffness. An overall healthy lifestyle, including plenty of rest and regular physical activity, will naturally help keep your joints in better shape.
If you exercise, be sure to stretch first in order to avoid injury. Consider low-impact activities, such as swimming or walking, that won’t be so hard on your joints, and drink lots of water.
Finally, avoid lifestyle habits that can put added pressure on your joints, such as wearing unsupportive shoes, engaging in repetitive motion, doing heavy lifting, or not getting enough sleep. Maintaining a healthy weight is also helpful for keeping your joints in good condition – especially as you age.
How can I lubricate my joints naturally?
What you eat can also play a role in limiting joint pain. Cherries, citrus fruits, peppers and fatty fish are just a few of the foods that can help keep your joints healthy. Eating well can also help you maintain a healthy weight — another factor that can exacerbate pain.
Foods you should avoid for joint pain
Just as there are some foods that help alleviate joint pain, there are others that can make it worse. The key is to avoid foods that can lead to inflammation. That means keeping away from fried foods, red meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, and refined carbohydrates. Avoiding these foods will also help you maintain a healthy weight, putting less stress on your joints overall.
What vitamins are good for arthritis and joint pain?
Some basic vitamins and supplements can help keep your joints in healthier condition. Vitamin D, for instance, helps strengthen your bones because it assists the body in absorbing calcium. Research has also shown that it can reduce inflammation, one of the leading causes of joint pain.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are also an effective anti-inflammatory agent. These are often found in nuts and seeds, plant oils (such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oil), and in fish oils (especially from cold-water fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring).
When should you see a doctor for joint pain?
It’s sometimes possible to treat your joint pain without surgery, either with OTC anti-inflammatory medications, the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) or by changing your exercise routine.
But if none of that helps, or you experience additional symptoms such as swelling, redness, tenderness or warmth around the joint, it may be time to see a doctor. And if you experience an injury that causes intense pain, sudden swelling, or loss of movement in the joint, see your doctor right away.
How Alexander Orthopaedic Associates can help
If you’re suffering from joint pain, whether it’s persistent or struck you suddenly, our experts can help. At Alexander Orthopaedic Associates, we specialize in state-of-the-art orthopedic care that helps you get back to life, pain-free and minimizes the amount of time you spend away from home. Make an appointment today!