The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about one out of every four adults in the United States has arthritis, and that’s based only on doctor-diagnosed cases. There may be millions more with unreported arthritis.
Although each of the 100+ types of arthritis has slightly different characteristics, they all cause joint inflammation, stiffness, and limited range of motion. If you’d like to sidestep this common and debilitating condition, we can help.
NEIL GHODADRA, M.D. in West Los Angeles and Thousand Oaks, helps many Southern Californians manage arthritis — and stave it off when possible. The question is: Is it possible to prevent arthritis? Dr. Ghodadra explains.
Is arthritis preventable?
Some types of arthritis are unavoidable. For example, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to mistake your joint tissues for foreign bodies and attack them. Although the exact cause of RA isn’t fully understood, researchers believe some people have a certain gene that activates later in life, perhaps due to a virus or injury, triggering the disease.
Other types of arthritis set in due to injuries and physical activity, and here’s where you may be able to ward off the disease — or at least delay or mitigate it. Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common type, occurs when years of activity wear down the protective cartilage in your joints until bones rub on bones.
The short answer to the question is no, you can’t prevent arthritis. The long answer is that it’s complicated, and you can avoid some of the precursors to arthritis and the conditions that make you more vulnerable to arthritis, even if you can’t fully prevent the disease. Beyond that, genetics and luck dictate your fate.
Attempting to prevent arthritis comes down to understanding your risk factors, and taking steps to mitigate them.
Arthritis risk factors you can’t control
Although anyone can get arthritis, certain circumstances make you more likely to develop it, and you can’t do anything about some of them, like:
- Age; after 50, you’re risk increases
- Genetics; arthritis runs in families
- Gender; women get arthritis more often than men, especially after menopause
- Past injuries; injured ACLs and rotator cuff often develop arthritis
These factors don’t mean you’re doomed to develop arthritis, they just mean that your chances are higher.
Arthritis risk factors you can control
Your best shot at preventing arthritis involves controlling the preventable risk factors, such as:
- Overweight and obesity; extra pounds stress and damage your joints
- Repetitive use; hobbies and jobs that overuse certain joints increase your arthritis risk
- Muscle strength; weak muscles don’t support your joints properly
- Diabetes; uncontrolled blood sugar inflames your joints
Managing your weight and overall health can help you avoid arthritis or delay its onset.
What to do if you have arthritis
If arthritis has already set in, come see Dr. Ghodadra sooner rather than later. Early treatment can prevent permanent joint damage and slow the disease’s progression. While we create an individualized treatment plan that addresses your unique symptoms, most people can benefit from targeted activity modification and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen.
However, don’t mistake activity modification for activity cessation. Movement is one of the best medicines for arthritis, and with the exception of an acute flare-up, exercise is an effective pain reducer. Physical activity releases endorphins, hormones that ease pain and make you feel better. It also lubricates your joints and reduces stiffness.
Physical therapy is the best way to relieve arthritic joint pain with activity. Our experts teach you precise movements that promote healing, decrease inflammation, and get you moving again.
Dr. Ghodadra also offers state-of-the-art treatments that boost your body’s healing power. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy and bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) are two regenerative medicine modalities that use your blood’s components to accelerate tissue healing.
If and when arthritis has damaged your joints beyond the scope of these treatments, Dr. Ghodadra may recommend joint-replacement surgery.
Learn more about preventing and treating arthritis by calling our friendly NEIL GHODADRA, M.D. staff at 310-929-4787 today.