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April 24, 2010

Prevention The Best Medicine

Caring for your joints now could save you a world of hurt later. I'm just talking about the debilitating pain of degenerative joint disease, but the impact on you wallet, as well. Today the average cost of a joint replacement is $30,000 to $40,000. If you're walking that yellow brick road to a joint replacement (walking on a softer surface is easier on the joints), strengthening the muscles around the joint will speed your recovery.

If your joints are healthy now, or just starting to groan, there are real things you can do right now to preserve the health of your joints.

1) Control weight. The impact of walking puts pressure that is 3 to 6 times your weight on your knees with each step. Studies have found a connection between being overweight and developing osteoarthritis of the knees, and to a lesser extent the hips. This is especially important for women. Studies show that losing just 10 pounds can reduce the risk for osteoarthritis by 50%.
2) Exercise. Avoid high-impact sports such as running or tennis on hard pavement. Use low-impact methods such as bicycling, swimming, weight lifting, and tai chi.
3) Avoid injury. Avoid sports that predispose you to injury. This is especially important as we age. Sitting at a desk five days a week and then going out to play basketball on Saturday for 5 hours is a bad idea. Pace yourself.
4) Get fit. Building up muscles around the joints absorbs the shock of impact. Pilates, moderate weight lifting, vinyasa yoga and swimming are all nonimpact forms of exercise that firm up your muscles without jeopardizing your cartilage.
5) Healthy skepticism. Supplements that claim to repair cartilage don't prevent damage. They can be expensive and if they have some form of the word "glucose" they may be bad for diabetics.

Taking care of your joints now can save you unnecessary surgery later. Like many of the main killers such as heart disease and diabetes, they are preventable through life-style choices. Consider this: preventing surgery now will be your part in curtailing the national health care bill later.

Posted by linda at April 24, 2010 9:08 AM

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