Arthritis can be a scary term you might associate with health complications and getting older. Luckily, as medical knowledge has progressed, we’re beginning to understand some methods of prevention that really work. As long as you know the early signs and risk factors, knowledge can be an empowering tool against the onset of arthritis.
Let’s drop some of that knowledge here and take a look at how to prevent arthritis in two of our most well-used joints; wrists and ankles.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is an extremely broad term - it encompasses more than a 100 different types. To put it simply, it is joint disease or inflammation caused by a wearing down of the cartilage that “cushions” joints. Without this essential cartilage, bones that meet at a joint can wear on each other and result in damage to soft tissues around the bone and joint.
Even if you are genetically predisposed to arthritis (and yes, you can be!) some of the following practices may just keep your joints pain-free and moving!
Wrist Arthritis & Prevention
Many of the signs and symptoms of wrist arthritis are the same for any other kinds of arthritis throughout the body. The main ones are pain, swelling and difficulty gripping objects, but numbness and tingling can also occur if the arthritis leads to carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s important to be aware of different conditions - since many are connected to each other - and properly diagnose the root cause of your pain with a doctor.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common arthritis that can affect the wrists as well as the entire body. RA is an auto-immune disease, meaning that your body’s own immune system damages the cartilage in joints. Osteoarthritis (OA), on the other hand, is different from RA since the immune system isn’t directly involved. Instead, it’s caused by years of use and stress on the joint.
Some ways to reduce your risk of developing RA and OA include:
- Quitting smoking
- Eat a to help prevent inflammation. Eating healthy is also essential to avoid another kind of arthritis, called gout, which is caused by a buildup of uric acid.
- Avoiding environmental pollutants and hazardous chemicals as much as possible
- Getting help from a doctor or Rheumatologist early on. Some medications prescribed by Rheumatologists may work to prevent and slow down any damage.
To avoid further damage to thr wrists caused by injury and complications from arthritis, try these tips:
- Use protective equipment in sports
- Take safety precautions at your job
- Invest in an ergonomic mouse and keyboard &
- Take frequent breaks if you use your wrist and hands a lot
- Buy a splint/brace for your wrist for added support
Ankle Arthritis & Prevention
Although it’s less common than in wrists, overusing or improperly using your ankles can also result in a long-term problem. So many of us take for granted the support our ankles give us, but they shouldn’t be ignored! Here are some tips for this joint specifically:
- Get well-fitted,
- Use a brace
- Stretch and strengthen your feet and ankles
- to help correct a misaligned joint
Below are just a few of the exercises to look into for strengthening your ankles. Of course, if you’re already having pain, make sure to check with a medical professional to see if they think these will help:
- Achilles tendon stretch. Stand in front of a wall and put one foot in front of the other. Slowly lean forward while keeping your hands on the wall; you should feel your achilles tendon and calf stretch in the process
- Ankle rolls. While sitting down on the ground, place your ankle up on a rolled up towel or foam roller and motion circles slowly with your foot.
- Heel lifts. With some standing support if needed, raise your heels and stand on the balls of your feet. After holding for a few seconds, steadily come down to a standing position and repeat.
- Toe and heel walks. This one should make you feel like a kid again! Walk at least 30 feet on the balls of your feet or your heels. Remember to alternate.
So, as you can see, it’s not complicated to take care of these joints and all the soft tissues involved. Our wrists and ankles are so necessary for all the activities we love; why not take care of them with good habits?