Got Creaky Knees? Start Walking, if You Don't Want Arthritis Later
There it is again - that little twinge in your knees as you walk upstairs. Is it serous? Not in and of itself, but it's serious because of what it portends - osteoarthritis in your knees. As we age, or as we treat our joints roughly while we're young, the tissues and muscles surrounding our joints become inflamed with use. The hydrating fluid inside our joints starts to dry out. The cartilage between the bones of our joints begins to wear away. These conditions lead to osteoarthritis. Add to the mix a non-minor injury, or an infection in a joint, and you get early onset osteoarthritis. If you have warning signs, what do you do to prevent or delay osteoarthritis? If your knees are where you're feeling the first signs, start walking.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease known as arthritis. There are over one hundred forms of arthritis, none of them curable at this point in time. Several forms of arthritis are auto-immune disorders, resulting from the body's own immune system going haywire and seeing healthy tissue as a disease organism and attacking it. Osteoarthritis is the form of the disease resulting from wear and tear on your joints, or in the case of early onset, from an injury or infection to the joint. Osteoarthritis results in tissue damage, cartilage loss, bone spurs, and excruciating pain. Your best defense is to prevent its onset; once you have it, all you can do is recognize the symptoms of joint pain due to OA. Arthritis can be severe and debilitating, and it can lead to a total loss of mobility. Avoiding disability should be high on your list, and keeping yourself moving is one of the best ways to go about it.
The Best Defense
Your best defense against arthritis is to prevent or delay its onset. Once a warning sign shows, start preventative measures immediately. Though it seems counterintuitive, your primary defense against arthritis is to use your joints regularly. If your knees are the first joint signaling trouble, start using them in an exercise regimen at least thirty minutes a day three times a week. You don't have to buy a gym membership either; your best exercise is walking. Even leisurely strolls help, but for the best benefit you need to walk briskly. Running is not such a hot idea; running can damage the joint, and if you're already showing signs of damage as indicated by pain, further damage to the joint should be avoided.
Supporting Your Joints
If your knees are showing signs of wear and tear, buy some supportive braces. These elastic or neoprene supports will help you keep moving, and if they come with the side supports, they will help you to walk properly, instead of changing your gait to avoid pain. They are available at all drugstores, big box retailers, and in some supermarkets; investing ten to twenty dollars is not much to pay for continuing to walk. You can also support your joints with topical analgesics; either allopathic ones or alternative ones. Both work, are relatively inexpensive, and have few side effects. The allopathic analgesics have the advantage of wide availability; they are also found in drug stores, big box retailers, and supermarkets.
Don't Forget Your Feet
Most of us take our feet for granted. We buy shoes for work based off style, not function, unless we're working in a field requiring safety boots or shoes. The fit and support of your shoes has a direct impact on your knees; when your shoes lose support, your knees start to hurt. Buy shoes appropriate for your foot structure, and when they lose support, buy orthotics or insole inserts. Your shoes will lost support long before the shoe itself wears out, so adding support to the shoe allows you to wear it for its entire lifespan, instead of having to replace it early. Be good to your feet; they're the only ones you'll have, and they support your entire body.
Arthritis is a scary thing; avoiding it or delaying it should be a primary goal. If your body starts giving you warning signs, listen to it and do something about it before osteoarthritis sets in. Once you get it, you've got it; there's no way to cure arthritis, and living with it isn't the easiest of tasks. You're much better off walking now, with good shoes, than waiting until you get the diagnosis. It's too late, then; all you can do is mitigate the symptoms and try to slow its progress. It's a far better thing to stop it before it gets started.
Arthritis. CollinsDictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
Arthritis: The Nation's Most Common Cause of Disability Centers for disease prevention and health promotion. Retrieved on 2010-01-24