Today, Saturday, April 20, 2019

Joint Care- Practical Steps For Saving Your Joints

Joint care is something that people don't typically think about unless they are developing joint stiffness or pain.  In fact, it is quite common for people to regard these extraordinary parts of our human anatomy as rather “commonplace” and “maintenance free” until something goes awry.  Because of the belief that joints are maintenance free, many people will believe that joint aches and stiffness are just an inevitable part of aging. Or are they?

Let's consider the facts.  While the joint is indeed common, it is anything but ordinary.  And although it is highly resilient, it is also not maintenance free. Furthermore, it is important to note that even though age does take its toll on all body parts, stiffness and pain should never be considered a normal part of aging. Understanding the functioning of this amazing body part will highlight the importance of taking proper joint care measures throughout life.

Joint Care - Why It Is Important

What does the joint do and how does it do it?  Human joints are designed to facilitate movement and act as the body's shock absorbers. They do It in ways that are similar to other mechanical devices that need oil to reduce friction.  The joint's “oil” is called synovial fluid and it lubricates the bones that come in contact with each other within the joint capsule.  The capsule itself is has a tough outer component of fibrous tissue that lends strength and stability to the joint.  The inner part of the joint capsule is lined with tissue called synovium.  The function of the synovial cells that make up the synovium is to secrete the lubricating synovial fluid.  For the purposes of lubrication and protection, thicker synovial fluid is better and this thickness is derived predominantly from a substance called hyaluronic acid (popular in joint pain remedies).

Another important joint care component is cartilage. It acts both as a lubricant and shock absorber.  Cartilage acts as a sponge that can absorb and dispense the joint's fluid depending upon the body's level of activity. For example, the cartilage in the knee of a resting person would have much of the fluid absorbed but ready to be released when the knee is called into action.

Cartilage also contains the other component contained in many joint remedies - chondroitin. The biochemistry of negatively charged chondroitin molecules repelling each other as the cartilage contracts contributes to the joint's shock cushioning capabilities.

At this point, it is quite clear how marvelous the oft forgotten joint really is.  Sadly, joint care neglect contributes to the 2% of the population over the age of 18 who experience some form of osteoarthritis. This translates into 27 million people in the U.S. alone. Studies indicate that by age 65 approximately 1 out of every 2 people may be afflicted with this painful condition.  Not only can osteoarthritis be extremely painful but it can also be disfiguring, as it dramatically reduces joint flexibility and mobility.  In many cases, joint replacements are required to alleviate pain and resume normal functioning.  It's little wonder that the joint care supplement industry is booming.

What are Some Common Issues that Can Lead to Joint Problems?

People of all ages can injure their joints by lifting excessive weight.  This leads to inflammation of the bursa (which are small fluid filled capsules designed to cushion joints and ligaments).  Individuals who participate in body building may take supplements such as creatine and nitric oxide to cause a rapid increase in muscle strength.  Proper joint care takes into consideration that muscle strength increases at a much faster pace than joint strength and that joints can be damaged by lifting too much too quickly.  Joint stress may even occur due to the rapid muscle growth caused by increased teenage hormones.

Overworking joints can lead to tiny tears in both cartilage and the tendons surrounding the joint. Poor nutrition will decrease the body's ability to respond to injury and stress. It is important to note that excess body weight that accompanies poor eating habits will take its toll on joints as well.  Proper body weight can reduce the chance of getting osteoarthritis in the knees by 50%.

Other factors contributing to osteoarthritis include repetitive sports injuries, sprains, and genetics and the normal decline of aging.

The good news is that you can save your joints before it is too late.  Some practical tips are:

  1. Get an adequate amount of sleep.  Sleep is the time your body uses to recover.
  2. Make sure you have a healthy well balanced diet that has the right amount of Omega       essential fatty acids (EFAs).  EFAs play an extremely important anti-inflammation role. Cold water fish such as salmon, herring, tuna and mackerel are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.  Healthy fats can also be found in these foods: flax seeds, olives, avocados, and nuts.
  3. Make sure you take in an adequate amount of calories even when dieting.  Insufficient calories can lead to loss of bone mass and insufficient joint care.
  4. Eat less processed foods and more fresh foods.
  5. Exercise to strengthen the muscles that support the joints; always making sure to warm up and stretch properly first.
  6. Lift weights that are appropriate to your level of fitness.
  7. Maintain the correct weight for your body type.
  8. Other Ways to Ensure Healthy Joints

    Today many people also take supplements for proactive joint care.    Glucosamine is a substance which naturally occurs in joint cartilage to help lubricate the joints.  The glucosamine that is found in supplements is often made from crushed shellfish so people with allergies should steer clear. Most chondroitin supplements are derived from shark cartilage and help to improve the cartilage of diseased joints by increasing elasticity. Omega-3 oils have anti-inflammatory properties which may help joint mobility.  It is important to note that it can take 6 weeks to three months of supplement use before seeing any improvement.  You should always seek your doctor's advice when taking supplements especially when using them in conjunction with prescription drugs.

    What then are the most practical steps for preventing osteoarthritis? The best advice is to have a lifelong joint care plan.  This includes; having a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, the right amount of anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids, plenty of restorative sleep, watching your weight, avoiding repetitive injuries and not lifting excessive weight. 

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