Lifestyle Choices That Can Worsen Osteoarthritis Symptoms

Osteoarthritis is often associated with older age, however, it can develop in young people. It typically affects the knees and hips, but it can affect any joint in the body, even the joints of your jawbones.

If osteoarthritis severely damages your knee or hip joint, your orthopedic surgeon may recommend joint replacement surgery. Before recommending surgery, however, your physician may suggest trying conservative methods to relieve your symptoms such as avoiding unhealthy lifestyle choices. Here are some lifestyle choices that may worsen your osteoarthritis symptoms. 

Eating Too Much Sugar

Consuming a diet high in sugar not only raises your risk for obesity, but it can also raise blood glucose levels. The combination of high blood glucose levels and a high-sugar diet can trigger systemic inflammation. When this happens, your body produces large amounts of pro-inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines, which can cause severe joint pain and inflammation.

Cutting back on sugar will help dampen systemic inflammation, inhibit the release of cytokines, and ease joint pain. If you have a hard time making healthy food choices, ask your doctor to refer you to a nutritionist, who can help you plan healthy menus. Once your sugar consumption declines, you might lose weight, which will take some of the stress off of your hip, knee, and ankle joints.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Low activity levels are associated with joint pain and inflammation in people with osteoarthritis. Physical activity helps improve range of motion, circulation, and flexibility. When you get regular exercise, you are less likely to experience morning stiffness and muscle atrophy, which is often associated with long-term degenerative joint diseases.

If you experience severe joint pain because of your osteoarthritis, take your prescription pain medication or an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug an hour or so before exercising. This will help keep you more comfortable during your activities. You don't need to overexert yourself in order to reap the benefits of exercise.

A short walk after dinner or riding a stationary bicycle in your home helps increase blood flow to inflamed joints and may even help improve the quality of your sleep. People with osteoarthritis and other conditions that cause chronic pain often suffer from insomnia as a result of severe pain. 

If healthy lifestyle choices fail to improve the symptoms of your osteoarthritis, make an appointment with your orthopedic surgeon to learn about joint replacement surgery. Your doctor will explain the procedure and recovery period, which will include physical therapy. Once your affected joint has been replaced with a prosthetic device, your gait will improve and you will enjoy more energy.

To learn more about managing osteoarthritis, contact an orthopedic doctor in your area.

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