osteoarthritis and lifestyle changesOsteoarthritis is a condition that affects how your joints work, causes pain, stiffness and eventually even deformity of the joint. A joint affected by osteoarthritis begins to slowly degenerate as changes begin to occur to the cartilage that surrounds the joints.

The cartilage starts to become thinner and rougher in texture, while simultaneously the bone beneath begins to thicken. The tissues surrounding the joint recognise that something is wrong and begin to try and correct the issue, which causes more challenges for the troubled joint as the additional activity can cause the joint to swell.

Finally, the ligaments around the joint also react by beginning to thicken and harden – this is because they are trying to stabilise the joint. The net result is this can really impact on the mobility of the joint and can cause sufferers a lot of pain and discomfort.

In the orthopaedic community, it is widely agreed that osteoarthritis is a condition that can be influenced by lifestyle choices. There are many factors that can lead to the start of osteoarthritis, including poor diet and lack of regular exercise, but the good news is that if people understand these lifestyle choices and the repercussions that they can have on their joints further down the line, care can be taken earlier to mitigate against the risk of developing the condition.

Osteoarthritis is linked to how your body deals with calorie intake and overall level of exercise

According to research undertaken by Arthritis Research UK, there is a link between metabolism and osteoarthritis. The implication of this is that by improving your dietary choices and introducing more regular exercise into your weekly routine, this can have a significant positive impact in how possible it is to delay or prevent osteoarthritis from developing.

Those who have a poor diet – one that lacks balance and does not contain enough of the key vitamins, nutrients and minerals – are at risk of being more susceptible to developing conditions such as osteoarthritis that may not occur so readily in a healthier individual. Coupled with this, poor diet is often linked with a more sedentary lifestyle. When these conditions occur and the body is not given the optimum conditions needed to produce energy, it attempts to compensate by generating a greater amount of glucose (the body’s natural sugars). When this happens, the body also generates more lactic acid, which causes the cartilage around joints to become inflamed, experience restricted mobility and cause discomfort. This is the onset of osteoarthritis.

What can be done if osteoarthritis is too far advanced to address with diet and exercise changes?

If you are experiencing advanced osteoarthritis then you may wish to consider a replacement joint. The joint is replaced with man-made components, which is usually highly successful in relieving the pain of osteoarthritis. This is a significant operation, so is not a decision that should be taken lightly, however patients who have suffered from serious osteoarthritis are generally able to achieve a much higher quality of life if they opt for surgery to help address the issues affecting their joints.

It is important to arrange to see an orthopaedic specialist like Mr Simon Bridle sooner rather than later to establish whether or not surgery is your best option or if there are other lifestyle changes that should be explored first. He will be able to assess your condition and make recommendations for a treatment programme, aimed at tackling discomfort and lack of mobility, so you can enjoy optimal function.