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Keeping your joints healthy and strong is the key to preventing, or delaying the onset of, wear-and tear arthritis, or osteoarthritis. If arthritis is already a part of your life, this doesn’t mean you should stop caring for you joints. There are many things you can either relieve your symptoms or protect your joints as you age. So, today, in the final post in our arthritis series for National Arthritis Month, we are highlighting five ways to keep your joints healthy and relieve or prevent arthritis.

1. Control Issues That Cause Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome encompasses a host of conditions that as a whole can increase the risk of many diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and much more. In addition metabolic syndrome has been shown to destabilize the chemical structure in cartilage, which increases the risk for arthritis. The conditions that fall under the umbrella of metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity, and so on. Even hypertension, alone, has been shown to increase the risk for knee arthritis.

So keeping your blood pressure and blood sugar under control and consuming a proper diet to control weight is a good start to preventing issues that cause metabolic syndrome and, therefore, one step to relieve or prevent arthritis.

2. Exercise Regularly

Our joints are made for movement, so a sedentary lifestyle can detrimental to our joints. Certain types of exercise not only keep your joints healthy and moving like they are supposed to but can also be beneficial to existing arthritis. Exercise can also help to prevent arthriits in the first place.

3. Seek Alternatives to Surgery

There are many orthopedic surgeries that have been shown in all but the most extreme cases to be no better than no surgery. Surgery often results in instability that eventually leads to arthritis. With interventional orthopedic solutions now available for these issues, there’s rarely a reason to resort to surgery. Follow the links below for more details on a few of these surgeries (this list is far from exhaustive):

4. Stay Away from NSAIDs and Steroids

Nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Aleve and Advil, are a staple in the medicine cabinets of most Americans. Yet NSAIDs are riddled with dangerous side effects, and with every new study, more we didn’t know about these drugs is brought to light. What sets them apart from painkillers such as acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) is that NSAIDs aren’t just pain relievers, they are also recommended to reduce inflammation. There are the dangers right on the bottle that the FDA warns us about—sudden death heart attack, stroke, GI bleeding, etc.—but there is so much more (e.g., infertility in males, kidney damage, etc.) that research has revealed. Additionally, NSAIDs actually seem to make arthritis worse, not better, over time, and in many cases, NSAIDs have actually been shown to not be effective at pain relief.

Steroid injections, also used to reduce inflammation (usually when NSAIDs have failed to work or are no longer providing relief), are not only toxic to cartilage, which can lead to arthritis, but are no better at pain relief than a placebo.

5. Take Joint-Nurturing, Pain-Relieving, and Anti-Inflammatory Supplements

Research has suggested that the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin (taken together) improve arthritis pain, reduce cartilage loss, and reduce inflammation. And glucosamine and chondroitin address inflammation just as well as prescription NSAID Celebrex and without all of its associated dangerous side effects.

The supplement curcumin has been shown to relieve arthritis pain as well as ibuprofen. Curcumin also appears to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as many, many other benefits, as well. Resveratrol is another antioxidant supplement that has been shown to provide cartilage protection.

We hope we have provided some helpful information throughout this month’s arthritis series toward helping you better understand arthritis, prevent future arthritis, and relieve existing arthritis. Remember, avoiding surgery should be your goal, and protecting your joints from arthritis or using orthobiologics to treat and prevent arthritis can go a long way toward achieving this.