The body’s joints take quite a beating over the course of a person’s life, causing wear-and-tear damage that can lead to osteoarthritis and other chronic joint conditions. Weight-bearing joints, like hips and knees, are among the most vulnerable to this type of damage. While a certain amount of gradual wear on your joints is unavoidable, excessive wear can be prevented by taking good care of your body. Avoiding joint and hip injuries is an important step toward that goal and can help prevent disabling joint problems later in life, reducing your risk of needing surgery, such as a hip replacement.
Staying active is essential to maintaining joint health and flexibility. Exercise also helps maintain bone strength, which is very important in avoiding hip injury and deterioration that can lead to the necessity of hip replacement. The stress placed on the bones by exercise stimulates bone cell growth, slowing the pace of natural bone loss that occurs with aging.
Low-impact exercise is best, like walking, bicycling, swimming or aerobics, since exercise that pounds and jars the joints increases the risk of both immediate injury and the gradual damage that leads to overuse injuries and chronic joint problems. Resistance exercise, such as light weight-lifting, helps in the maintenance of joints and bones as well, and should be done at least twice weekly.
Be sure to warm up and stretch before exercise to reduce the chance of joint injuries, and avoid exercising on hard surfaces, such as asphalt, or rough, uneven terrain. Consulting a fitness instructor is the best way to devise an exercise plan that promotes optimal hip and joint health.
Being overweight is one of the biggest risk factors for joint and hip injury. Extra weight places undue stress on weight-bearing joints, increasing the risk of osteoarthritis and overuse injuries such as tendinitis and bursitis. Even losing a little weight can help, since each pound you lose takes about four pounds of pressure off of weight-bearing joints.
Eating well helps ensure that the body has a plentiful supply of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients to repair and maintain the joints. Among the nutrients essential to joint health are vitamins A and C, which aid in collagen production, and omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation. Getting plenty of minerals, especially calcium and phosphorus, is essential to maintaining bone strength, and balanced nutrition keeps muscles healthy and strong, providing vital support and protection to the joints.
Why Joint Health Matters
Joint injury and deterioration is a leading cause of disability in adults, particularly those older than age 65. While modern surgical procedures and prosthetic devices have provided relief to many, they are not without risk.
Defective hip replacement implants have caused high rates of complications in recent years. Among the most serious of these is metallosis, a condition that occurs when the components of metal-on-metal hip implants shed debris into surrounding tissues, causing severe pain and inflammation. Implant debris can also lead to osteolysis, which is bone loss around the implant that can cause it to loosen or fail. Revision surgeries have been necessary in many cases to repair the damage, and these issues have led to the recall of several products and thousands of hip replacement lawsuits.
Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com and is a guest article contributor to the Hat Trick Sports resource and sports performance pages.