Every living thing changes as it ages, and the human body is the perfect example. Hair color fades, skin thins and wrinkles, and joints lose lubrication and become arthritic.
Amazing technological advances have made it possible to combat the effects of aging and even reverse it in some cases, but when it comes to your joints, you have the power to prevent the need for medical intervention.
Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Joseph Absi, specializes in improving joint health even before problems set in. Here at Orthopaedics of Atlanta and Aesthetic Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, he helps patients optimize their overall health through anti-aging treatments, lifestyle and nutritional counseling, and of course, expert orthopedic care.
To that end, here are five things you can do now to keep your joints in top shape as you age.
1. Take hydration seriously
More and more people are becoming aware of the importance of hydration and carry a water bottle with them wherever they go, but some still haven’t gotten the message. Did you know that you can live without food for weeks, but you can’t go without water for more than three days?
Children and older adults are at higher risk for dehydration, and it affects multiple body functions, including joints. The cartilage in your joints is 80% water, so when you neglect your water intake, you deplete these tissues, which can lead to joint pain and osteoarthritis.
2. Stop smoking
Smoking is bad for so many reasons, with heart disease and lung cancer at the top of the list. But smoking can also affect your joints.
Nicotine increases inflammation throughout your body, and inflammation means pain. What’s more, smoking constricts your blood vessels, which means your circulatory system can’t work as efficiently at transporting oxygen, and your healing processes become sluggish.
So if you have any joint damage already, smoking may hinder your ability to recover.
3. Don’t skip warmups
In the interest of saving time, you may be tempted to skip the warmup portion of your workout. But if you jump into exercise too quickly, you put yourself at risk for an injury now and joint problems later.
By stretching and moving your muscles before you launch into a full workout, you can prep your joints for what’s to come.
We’re not talking about the old-school stretches where you hold a position for a few seconds. The best way to get your joints ready for action is dynamic stretching, which mimics the types of movements you plan to do in your workout, whether it’s golf, tennis, weightlifting, or running.
Whatever activity you choose, there's a dynamic stretch to get you ready for it.
4. Lose weight
You knew this would make the list. Being overweight or obese increases your risk for just about every health problem, including panful joints. In addition to contributing to inflammation all over your body, making any or all of your joints hurt, extra weight specifically affects your knee joints.
For every pound you’re overweight, you add an extra 4 pounds of pressure on your knees every time you stand, walk, or run. Four pounds may not seem like a lot, but if you’re 30 pounds beyond your ideal BMI, for example, your knees are bearing an extra 120 pound of pressure.
5. Listen to your joints
Aches and pains happen. When you give it your all in a pickup game of basketball, you help a friend move, or you spend the day kneeling in the garden, you can expect to have sore muscles the next day. But joint pain is different. Joint pain differs from muscle pain in that it causes:
It’s important to literally listen to your joints, as some conditions can even cause audible symptoms like clicking or popping.
Dr. Absi can determine exactly what’s going on inside your painful joints and let you know the best path forward. It may be that all you need is to correct your form in whatever sport or activity you’re doing. But if arthritis is setting in, you want to start early treatment to avoid more damage.
From nutrition to physical therapy to minimally invasive surgery, Dr. Absi guides you through your options, so you can keep your healthy joints healthy, heal injured joints, or manage the symptoms of arthritis.
To find out more about joint health, call or click for a consultation with Dr. Absi and start protecting your joints today.