People have yet to appreciate the number of common joint problems and their impact on their body's ability to move and function. Joint problems may cause reduced mobility and loss of range of motion. The number of individuals diagnosed with arthritis and other bone and joint conditions rises day by day.

Joint problems affect more than 400 million people worldwide, and complaints of back ache are the most common cause of workplace absenteeism. Osteoarthritis in knee and hip joints is the most common joint problem affecting seniors. With this in mind, it's timely and useful to draw attention to the need for every person to care for their joints.

Joint injury and bone conditions aren't limited to seniors. Today, many young people suffer knee injuries in sports or through accident or trauma. Teens and young adults engaging in high-impact sports and activities such as soccer, football and skateboarding often shrug off their injuries and take them lightly. Unfortunately, these injuries are likely to cause problems with function and mobility in the short-term, and as they age.

Pay attention to your symptoms and see the doctor early
If you have pain or swelling and stiffness around your joints for more than two weeks, please see your orthopedic surgeon. These symptoms can develop suddenly after an injury or develop slowly. These symptoms could be signs of arthritis. Arthritis is not a single diagnosis. There are more than 100 types of arthritis and only an orthopaedic specialist can make the diagnosis after examining you.

What can be done to mitigate the bone and joint disease?
We can look at this from a large and micro perspective. While osteoarthritis is the bane of middle and late age, traffic accidents, trauma and fractures can be prevented by action at the appropriate political level. Protective measures such as wearing seat belts in autos, or protective gear for sports and activities may help prevent such injuries.

Seniors experiencing chronic painful arthritic joints may need a joint replacement, while younger individuals pose a certain number of diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. In this group fall many women experiencing anterior knee pain. They need special attention and specially designed exercises for long-term relief of symptoms as well as functionality of the affected joint. Surgical methods for treatment of cartilage lesions are practiced by the author. Ligament injuries of the knee should be treated in symptomatic persons.

Individuals can postpone joint problems through:

  • Regular exercise
  • Putting your joints through a full range of movement each day - this is all that's needed for general joint health
  • Avoid weight gain
  • Learn to differentiate between the pain of overuse and disease. Any joint pain lasting for more than one hour after exercise is not overuse pain, but may signify an injury or medical condition
  • Use the largest joint suitable for any muscular effort

The Benefits of Early Diagnosis
"The earlier the diagnosis is made, the better are the chances to keep diseases such as arthritis or osteoporosis in check, as well as offering the ability to advise on mitigating its effect," says Dr. A.K. Venkatachalam from Madras Joint Replacement Center in Chennai, India. "Such conditions cannot be entirely cured, but medicines and surgery can offer lasting pain relief and improve quality of life."

Clinical exams may offer general advice on lifestyle modification, advice on prevention and even early treatment. Standing x rays, MRI scans and bone scans are a few diagnostics tools that may identify bone or joint problems early.

Protect your Joints
Exercise helps to relieve pain, improve circulation, tone up muscles and keep you fit, as well as improving an overall sense of well being. Your doctor can show you different types of exercise useful for your specific condition. Power jogging, hiking, swimming and cycling are exercises which don't place extreme weight load on your knees and are easy to do. If you have any ligament problems, your doctor can advise on specific exercises. Exercises don’t worsen knee pain, as many people fear.

Lifestyle Modifications
If after a consultation with your surgeon, it's apparent that some activity or lifestyle is contributing to your symptoms, then it's very simple to avoid that particular activity. Be willing to make some lifestyle changes for the wellbeing of your joints. You can avoid or minimize climbing stairs, kneeling on the floor or putting too much stress on the knees. For example, avoid wearing high heeled shoes to decrease extra load on your knees and ankles. Shedding extra pounds can take away excessive loads from your back, knee, and ankle joints.

Healthy Eating and Drinking Habits
Cut down on fast foods which offer little nutrition. Fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals, and milk protect your muscles and joints. A diet rich in vitamins C, D & E promote joint health. Most forms of these ingredients are available in fruits, dairy products and vegetables. There are no dietary restrictions for most form of arthritis except for Gout, where red meat is restricted. Diet doesn’t lead to aggravation of joint symptoms as many people complain.

Early treatment

  • If the cause of your symptom is indeed a genuine one, then early treatment is available.
  • Misalignment of the knee, ligament damage, cartilage tears, and obesity are treatable.
  • An osteotomy can correct misalignment. Arthroscopic surgery can provide some amelioration of symptoms in early cases of joint wear. Finally, when cartilage destruction is advanced, a partial or total knee replacement may be needed.

In summary, joint problems are rife amongst the population and deserve your immediate attention. Consultation with your physiotherapist, physician or orthopedic surgeon is preferable to self medication and treatment.

Take care of your joints, and they'll take care of you.

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