While people typically associate osteoporosis with women, men aren’t immune.
Osteoporosis commonly leads to weakening of the skeleton and fractures. According to the U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, by the age of 70, men and women are losing bone mass at about the same rate.
The institute mentions these factors that raise a man’s chances of developing osteoporosis:
- Having a chronic disease affecting the kidneys, lungs, stomach or intestines.
- Taking certain medications regularly.
- Having low testosterone.
- Smoking, drinking alcohol excessively, getting insufficient calcium or failing to get enough exercise.
- Getting older.
Is arthritis pain getting in the way of your fitness plans? That need not be the case.
In fact, physical activity can be vital to your continued mobility.
Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that affects about 27 million Americans — most often in the knees and hips, but also in the lower back and neck.
Doctors describe it as a degenerative disease — meaning the joint has worn down. Usually that’s from simple wear-and-tear over the years, or from overuse.
This occurs when there’s a breakdown of the cartilage that covers the end of each bone. The cushioning effect is lost. The result is pain, swelling and problems moving the joint that’s been affected. Over time, the bones themselves can be damaged.
What to do? Get moving.
It may be hard, especially at first, but physical activity is key to treating osteoarthritis. Studies have shown that exercise not only helps reduce pain but also improves mobility.
Being active should help with weight loss, too — and excess weight contributes to the pain of osteoarthritis.
Start slow and simple, suggests the Arthritis Foundation. Just walking around the neighborhood can help. So can a fun and easy exercise class.
Adding some strengthening exercises will help build muscle around whatever joint is affected by osteoarthritis. Range-of-motion exercises can help you become more flexible and less stiff. Simply start with gentle stretches that take your joints through their full range of motion.
Yoga and tai chi can help relieve stiffness and improve flexibility, too.
Whatever activity you choose, just make sure it’s easy on your joints. No twisting and pounding. Besides walking, good options are biking, water aerobics, swimming and dancing.
A key to success, though, is to pay attention to how your body tolerates your new activity. And be patient. When you have arthritis, it can take your body longer to adjust to new activity, notes the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you haven’t been active, start with just three to five minutes of activity twice a day. Once your body has adjusted, add 10 minutes to your activity time. Then add 10 minutes more, and so on, until you’re as active as you want to be.
For those who have a hard time even walking at first, consider working with a physical therapist. This specialist can create a program tailored to your abilities — and one that can adapt as you get stronger.
One important reminder: Check with your doctor before adding new activity and any time you experience unusual pain or swelling in the joint affected by osteoarthritis.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on physical activity for arthritis.
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Weight loss from dieting can slow the progression of knee arthritis in overweight people, according to a new study.
But losing pounds from exercise alone will not help preserve those aging knees, the researchers found.
Obesity is a major risk factor for painful knee osteoarthritis — degeneration of cartilage caused by wear and tear. Weight loss can slow the disease, but it wasn’t clear until now if the method of weight loss made a difference.
Apparently, it does.
“These results add to the hypothesis that solely exercise as a regimen in order to lose weight in overweight and obese adults may not be as beneficial to the knee joint as weight loss regimens involving diet,” said lead author Dr. Alexandra Gersing.
Gersing made her comments in a news release from the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). She’s with the University of California, San Francisco’s department of radiology and biomedical imaging.
The study included 760 overweight or obese adults who had mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis or were at risk for it. The participants were divided into a “control group” of patients who lost no weight, and a group who lost weight through either a combination of diet and exercise, diet alone, or exercise alone.
After eight years, cartilage degeneration was much lower in the weight-loss group than in the control group. However, that was true only of people who lost weight through diet and exercise, or diet alone, the investigators found.
Study participants who exercised without changing their diet lost as much weight as those who slimmed down through diet plus exercise or diet alone, but there was no significant difference in cartilage degeneration compared to the control group.
The study was scheduled for presentation Tuesday at the annual meeting of the RSNA, in Chicago. Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more on knee arthritis.
SOURCE: Radiological Society of North America, news release, Nov. 28, 2017
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is a chronic degenerative joint disease that affects mostly middle-aged and older adults. Osteoarthritis causes the breakdown of joint cartilage. It can occur in any joint, but it most often affects the hands, knees, hips, or spine.
What causes osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis can be classified as primary or secondary. Primary osteoarthritis has no known cause. Secondary osteoarthritis is caused by another disease, infection, injury, or deformity. Osteoarthritis starts with the breakdown of cartilage in the joint. As the cartilage wears down, the bone ends may thicken and form bony growths (spurs). Bone spurs interfere with joint movement. Bits of bone and cartilage may float in the joint space. Fluid-filled cysts may form in the bone and limit joint movement.
Who is at risk for osteoarthritis?
The risk factors of osteoarthritis include:
- Heredity. Slight joint defects or double-jointedness (laxity) and genetic defects may contribute to osteoarthritis.
- Excess weight. Being overweight or obese can put stress on such joints as the knees over time.
- Injury or overuse. Severe injury to a joint, such as the knee, can lead to osteoarthritis. Injury may also result from overuse or misuse over time.
What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?
The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain after overuse or inactivity of a joint. Symptoms usually develop slowly over years. Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each person, and may include:
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness, especially after sleep or inactivity
- Less movement in the joint over time
- A grinding feeling of the joint when moved, as the cartilage wears away (in more advanced stages)
The symptoms of osteoarthritis can look like other health conditions. Make sure to see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?
The process starts with a medical history and a physical exam. You may also have X-rays. This test uses a small amount of radiation to create images of bone and other body tissues.
How is osteoarthritis treated?
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. The goal of treatment is to reduce joint pain and stiffness, and improve joint movement. Treatment may include:
- Exercise. Regular exercise, including stretching and strengthening, may help reduce pain and other symptoms.
- Heat treatment. Treating the affected joint with heat may help reduce pain.
- Physical and occupational therapy. These types of therapy may help to reduce joint pain, improve joint flexibility, and reduce joint strain. Splints and other assistive devices may also be used.
- Weight maintenance. Keeping a healthy weight or losing weight if needed may help to prevent or reduce symptoms.
- Medicines. These may include pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines. Either may be taken by mouth as a pill, or rubbed on the skin as a cream.
- Injections of thick liquids into the joints. These liquids mimic normal joint fluid.
- Joint surgery. Surgery may be needed to repair or replace a severely damaged joint.
Talk with your healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medicines.
What are the complications of osteoarthritis?
Because osteoarthritis causes joints to degenerate over time, it can cause disability. It can cause pain and movement problems that make a person less able to do normal daily activities and tasks.
Living with osteoarthritis
Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, it is important to help keep joints functioning by reducing pain and inflammation. Work on a treatment plan with your healthcare provider that includes medicine and therapy. Work on lifestyle changes that can improve your quality of life. Lifestyle changes include:
- Weight loss. Extra weight puts more stress on weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees.
- Exercise. Some exercises may help reduce joint pain and stiffness. These include swimming, walking, low-impact aerobic exercise, and range-of-motion exercises. Stretching exercises may also help keep the joints flexible.
- Activity and rest. To reduce stress on your joints, alternate between activity and rest. This can help protect your joints and lessen your symptoms.
- Using assistive devices. Canes, crutches, and walkers can help to keep stress off certain joints and improve balance.
- Using adaptive equipment. Reachers and grabbers allow people to extend their reach and reduce straining. Dressing aids help people get dressed more easily.
- Managing use of medicines. Long-term use of some anti-inflammatory medicines can lead to stomach bleeding. Work with your healthcare provider to develop a plan to reduce this risk.
When should I call my health care provider?
If your symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms, let your healthcare provider know.
Key points about osteoarthritis
- Osteoarthritis is a chronic joint disease. It affects mostly middle-aged and older adults.
- It starts with the breakdown of joint cartilage.
- Risk factors include heredity, obesity, injury, and overuse.
- Common symptoms include pain, stiffness, and limited movement of joints.
- The goals of treatment are to reduce joint pain and stiffness, and improve joint movement.
- Treatment may include medicines, exercise, heat, and joint injections.
- Surgery may be needed to repair or replace a severely damaged joint.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
- Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
- Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
- Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your healthcare provider tells you.
- At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
- Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
- Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
- Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
- Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
- If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
- Know how you can contact your healthcare provider if you have questions.