Arthritis is the breakdown of the cartilage around your joints. It can happen anywhere in your body with common symptoms associated including joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and restricted motion. While osteoarthritis is a natural part of the aging process, it may be an uncomfortable one. When it comes to arthritis, the decisions you make each day can have a dramatic effect on whether it becomes a problem for you as you get older. Every day, your spinal discs absorb stress related to gravity, your posture, and your movement patterns. Over time, this stress can cause wear and tear to your discs that can become painful.
The thinning discs and bone spurs that may accompany an arthritis diagnosis happen as we age due to gravity, previous injury, and other lifestyle factors. Many people diagnosed with arthritis believe they are destined for a life of pain, but that isn’t true. You can manage, and even mitigate, many of the challenges of arthritis by making positive decisions for your spinal health each day. Here are 3 ways to stay proactive and reduce the potential effects of arthritis:
- Perform stretches and exercises that foster a balance of strength and flexibility daily
- Foster proper ergonomics at your work desk by keeping your computer monitor at eye level
- Follow a diet that limits inflammatory foods that can contribute to pain and chronic inflammation.
Not surprisingly, movement and exercise are the top ways to keep your spinal discs healthy. Each day try to move your spine through its full range of motion and be cautious about sitting for hours on end. If you have to sit for long periods, try to change positions every 15 minutes. If you have to work at a computer for hours at a time and you have the option, bring in a standing desk. These small steps can help both reduce stress on your discs and engage the small muscles supporting your spine – both of which are essential for disc health. Also, keep your posture in mind. The combination of inactivity and long periods in an unbalanced posture can wreak havoc on your spinal discs.
Keeping your spinal discs healthy is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing neck pain or low back pain. If you spend long hours at the computer especially, you need to take proactive steps to counteract that stress. There isn’t just one thing you can do to prevent arthritis and degeneration, thus making small changes to your habits each day can help you minimize your risk of painful arthritis. It’s never too late to start a new set of healthy habits, so call us today if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis. Remember, to get the most relief, any pain, stiffness, swelling, and restricted motion should be addressed sooner rather than later!
- Osteoarthritis. University of Maryland Medical Center. 2007.
- Disc Changes Associated with Prolonged Sitting. PMR. 2014