More than 80% of older adults over the age of 65 have some form of osteoarthritis, also more commonly known as arthritis. In fact, arthritis has more than doubled in the last 50 years! How did we get to this point? Is it just a matter of better Imaging or are we actually seeing a change within our bony structures? More importantly what can we do to prevent the continual growth of osteoarthritis within our population?
The answer lies within several studies that were published recently. Epidemiologists and researchers going back and measuring our skeletons of our ancestors have shown that physical exercise and activity have been a integral part of our lifestyle and bodies. With modern technology and changes to our lifestyle we have become less agrarian and less active. As a consequence our bones and bodies have changed. We have gained a little bit more weight, or joints have not gotten used to not being used, and we suffer from other ailments related to changes within our diet. In a study just this year in the Journal of American Medical Association shows that weight gain and lack of physical exercise is probably the biggest driver for inflammatory arthritis.
Studies show that the current American diet promotes inflammation and can actually worsen arthritis. Several studies show that those that are on a plant-based Mediterranean style diet have less inflammation and are less likely to have osteoarthritis. From excessive fat, excessive meat consumption, and pro-inflammatory processed foods help to drive arthritis.
Some of the best things that we can do for arthritis include exercise and lifestyle changes. The exercise that can offer the best benefit typically involves strengthening the muscles around the joint. For example for knee and hip arthritis, exercises that strengthen the upper thigh muscles and hip muscles has been shown to improve strength, function, and pain. Another component that can greatly help physical therapists and patients alike, is a drastic change in Foods consumed. Adopting a plant-based diet will likely offer the biggest anti-inflammatory benefit for those with arthritis. In addition a plant-based diet will confer benefits for the heart, blood sugars. Diabetes, body weight, and mental health.
So, as you're considering getting a steroid injection, surgery, or even a joint replacement, consider that exercise and diet probably have a bigger role in treating your arthritis than the traditional medical model. Because in the end, with the exception of joint replacement, there are no other truly evidence-based treatments for joint arthritis. Contact us today to schedule a consult for our physical therapist to evaluate you and provide you with a maintenance Physical Therapy Program specific to your arthritis needs.