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www.ProHealth.com • December 5, 2003


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, with nearly 21 million Americans living with it today. No longer considered just a consequence of aging, researchers now have several candidates when looking for a cause: musculoskeletal defects, genetic defects, obesity, or injury and overuse.

While you may not be able to control a genetic trait or knock knees, there are some definite actions you can take to protect your joints and help prevent OA.

1. Maintain your ideal body weight. The more you weigh, the more stress you are putting on your joints, especially your hips, knees, back and feet.

2. Move your body. Exercise protects joints by strengthening the muscles around them. Strong muscles keep your joints from rubbing against one another, wearing down cartilage. We can help you get started on an exercise program that works for you.

3. Stand up straight. Good posture protects the joints in your neck, back, hips and knees.

4. Use the big joints. When lifting or carrying, use largest and strongest joints and muscles. This will help you avoid injury and strain on your smaller joints.

5. Pace yourself. Alternate periods of heavy activity with periods of rest. Repetitive stress on joints for long periods of time can accelerate the wear and tear that causes OA.

6. Listen to your body. If you are in pain, don't ignore it. Pain after activity or exercise can be an indication that you have overstressed your joints.

7. Don't be static. Changing positions regularly will decrease the stiffness in your muscles and joints.

8. Forget the weekend warrior. Don't engage in activities your body for which your body isn't prepared. Start new activities slowly and safely until you know how your body will react to them. This will reduce the chance of injury.

9. Wear proper safety equipment. Don't leave helmets and wrist pads at home. Make sure you get safety gear that is comfortable and fits appropriately.

10. Ask for help. Don't try to do a job that is too big for you to handle. Get another pair of hands to help out.

For more information about arthritis including treatment options, visit www.ArthritisSupport.com.

(Source: www.arthritis.org, the website of the Arthritis Foundation.)<



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