ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — About one in three people between ages 18 and 64 have some type of arthritis. This common joint disease can wreak havoc on your everyday life. But there are some ways to protect yourself.
Running, jumping, and climbing stairs or mountains … your joints take a lot of abuse. Over time, it can lead to osteoarthritis, and it’s not just a disease for the old.
“We’re seeing arthritis at an earlier age, not only in the knees, but shoulders, really everywhere. It’s becoming an epidemic of sorts,” said Mathew Pombo, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center.
So, can you safeguard your joints? First: ditch the high heels. They put pressure on your knees and feet. A three-inch heel stresses your foot seven times more than a one-inch heel. And, you might want to scrap the sodas. A Harvard study found men with osteoarthritis who drank more sugary carbonated drinks reported worse symptoms. Get active but ramp it up slowly and be careful of injuries.
“We also have a lot of younger people participating in sports, and we know that prior injury leads to posttraumatic arthritis,” continued Dr. Pombo.
Low-impact activities like walking, swimming, and biking are best. And extra weight is one of the biggest culprits for arthritis pain. Every additional pound you gain puts four-times the stress on your knees. Research shows losing as few as eleven pounds cuts your risk for osteoarthritis by 50 percent.
And there’s good news for coffee lovers! A new study out of Hong Kong found those who drink a lot of coffee had higher bone mass density than non-coffee drinkers.
Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.
POINTS TO PROTECT YOUR JOINTS
BACKGROUND: Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. It occurs when the smooth cushion between bones breaks down. The joints become painful, swollen and hard to move. OA can affect any joint, but it occurs most often in hands, knees, hips, lower back and neck. It can happen at any age, but most commonly starts in the 50’s and affects women more than men. Some contributing factors to OA are age because bones, muscles and joints are also aging; a past joint injury; the overuse of the same joint; extra weight which puts more stress on a joint; those with a family history may carry the gene; and sex.
TIPS TO PREVENT JOINT PAIN: Joints need attention long before they begin to cause discomfort or pain. “Prevention really is the best medicine when it comes to joint pain,” says sports medicine physician Dominic King, DO. Smoking and tobacco use are risk factors for cardiovascular problems, cancer, and even joint pain. Within eight hours of quitting, the carbon monoxide level in your blood returns to normal and the oxygen levels in your blood increase. If you don’t stay well-hydrated, your body will pull water from cartilage and other areas, which will wreak havoc on your joints. Therefore, it is recommended to replace soda and energy drinks with water. Joints are meant to sustain a certain amount of force. So, if you’re overweight or underweight, you’re likely putting more stress on your joints. “Each additional 10 pounds of weight you carry adds 20 to 39 pounds of force to each knee,” Dr. King says. When getting some exercise, it’s important to always warm up and cool down for 5 minutes each. This is especially important as you age. Finally, listen to your body. Having muscle soreness after a workout is normal, but joint pain is something else entirely. Consult your doctor for an evaluation before anything gets worse.
NEW MOLECULE DISCOVERY: An international team of scientists, led by Dr. Hiroshi Ashara and Dr. Shigeru Miyaki, from The Scripps Research Institute in California in conjunction with the National Research Institute for Child Health and Development in Japan, discovered that a natural molecule in the body counters the progression of osteoarthritis. These findings could one day lead to new therapies for individuals suffering with osteoarthritis. The team focused on the molecule, microRNA 140, which is part of a recently discovered category of genetic molecules called “microRNAs” or “non-coding RNAs” that often play a vital role in gene expression. “This is the first report showing the critical role of a specific non-coding RNA in bone development,” said Hiroshi Ashara, MD, PhD, associate professor of molecular and experimental medicine at The Scripps Research Institute. “We observed that microRNA 140 acts against arthritis progression and is the first evidence that non-coding RNA plays a key role in age-dependent diseases,” continued Dr. Ashara. This discovery opens the door to find new methods to not only treat and stop osteoarthritis, but also reverse its effects all together. And, because the molecule occurs naturally in the body, side effects would be minimal.
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