Osteoarthritis affects nearly 9 million people in the UK, according to the NHS, and can occur at any age. The condition is caused by the wearing away and less repair of the cartilage lining of the joint, and can make movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain and stiffness. So is there anything you can do to reduce your risk of developing the condition? LloydsPharmacy Pharmacist Matt Courtney-Smith said taking one of three supplements could help.
He said: “If you’re concerned that vitamin or mineral deficiencies may be impacting your joint health or is increasing your risk of developing osteoarthritis, supplements may help.
According to Matt, glucosamine, boswellia and omega-3 may be effective.
He explained: “There is research into Glucosamine’s ability to help maintain and repair cartilage in the body, which is important in staving off the onset of osteoarthritis. Glucosamine supplements are available as tablets, capsules and powders and can be found in most pharmacies.
“Boswellia is an ancient natural supplement which has also been shown to slow down cartilage damage, and there are targeted joint supplements which contain this ingredient.
“You could also consider Omega-3 supplements as they are well-known to help reduce inflammation, including around the joints, helping to prevent inflammatory arthritic conditions.”
Matt also recommends setting healthy weight goals, maintaining strong posture and staying active to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.
Set healthy weight goals
Excess weight can place additional pressure on the joints, which can sometimes increase the risk of wear and tear of the cartilage around the joints, according to Matt.
He said: “A little weight loss may help to relieve pressure on the joints, particularly the knees and hips, helping to prevent osteoarthritis or reduce the symptoms if you already have the condition.
“There are some simple lifestyle changes that you can make to help support your weight loss such as eating plenty of fruit and veg and drinking plenty of water. Try to eat high-fibre foods as these can help to keep you fuller for longer, and be sure to cut down on alcohol – a glass of wine can have as many calories as a piece of chocolate.”
Maintain strong posture
Your posture is important for a number of reasons, including preventing the onset of osteoarthritis, said Matt.
He added: “Maintaining good posture will help your body naturally distribute weight evenly across your body, instead of putting unnecessary pressure or stress on particular areas of the body.
“If you have a desk-based job, try to ensure that you don’t slouch and take regular breaks. When standing you should try and distribute weight evenly on both legs, avoiding leaning on just one leg. You should ideally keep your shoulders back, with your feet hip width apart, relaxing your knees whilst keeping your legs straight.”
Regular exercise is extremely important to help increase the strength of the muscles surrounding the joints, which helps protect the bone and cartilage from wearing down, said Matt.
He warned: “However, the type of exercise you do can affect your risk of osteoarthritis. Too much running and weight training can put unnecessary strain on your joints, increasing the impact of wear and tear on the joints, potentially increasing your risk of the condition.
“If you’re concerned about your risk of osteoarthritis, choose activities such as walking and cycling, which will help build muscle strength, without as much impact. Yoga is also a great gentle exercise for those concerned about their risk.”
Weight-bearing exercises such as walking could help to increase the strength of the muscles surrounding the joints, which could help to prevent and reduce the severity of arthritis.
Matt added: “This is due to the fact that muscles can help support joints, alleviating stress and associated pain.
“If you do start experiencing niggles, or are concerned about your joints, drug-free gels such as Flexiseq Osteo help to restore lubrication in the joints, maintaining healthy joints and supporting mobility.”
Supplements are recommended to help protect against a range of ailments.