Supporting Your Joint Health by Building Better Habits
Spring is rounding the corner which means it’s time for a fresh start! What better time than the turn of a new season to take the reins when it comes to your joint health and leave harmful habits behind?
The health experts at Henry County Health share a list of bad habits to nip in the bud to support your joint health this spring and long afterward.
Understanding Joint Pain
More than 54 million American adults have been diagnosed with arthritis. Although this condition affects almost a quarter of American adults, it isn’t a well-understood issue.
Although many people think of arthritis as a single condition, arthritis is a general term that describes health conditions that affect your joints or the surrounding tissue. There are actually more than 100 types of arthritis.
Arthritic conditions are characterized by inflammation, pain, and stiffness in the affected area. These symptoms can range in severity according to your specific condition.
Controllable Risk factors
Certain lifestyle habits can increase your risk for developing an arthritic condition. These controllable factors include:
- Being overweight or obese.
- Certain infections.
- Injuries and trauma.
- Occupations or activities that are harsh on your joints.
- Smoking cigarettes.
By addressing these factors, you can effectively reduce and minimize your risk for developing arthritis.
Uncontrollable Risk Factors
There are also factors that increase your risk for that cannot be changed. These factors include:
Nip Bad Habits in the Bud
Whether you’re suffering from joint pain already or actively trying to prevent it, it is essential that you cut back on habits that are known to cause or exacerbate joint pain. Here are a few of the most common behaviors to cut back on to keep your joints pain-free.
Smoking & Using Tobacco Products
Smoking and using tobacco products is the leading cause of preventable disease and conditions that affect almost every part of your body—including your joints. In fact, smokers and former smokers are much more likely to develop chronic pain affecting the back than those who don’t smoke or have never smoked.
If you’re a smoker it advised that you quit and if not, you shouldn’t start.
Leading a Sedentary Lifestyle
Leading an inactive lifestyle can leave you at an increased risk of developing or worsening existing joint pain. Although relaxing every now and then is more than okay, spending too much time sitting or laying down can cause you to lose muscle mass. Your body needs your supportive muscles to protect your joints and ligaments from damage. When these muscles are underdeveloped, you’re more susceptible to injury.
Stressing Too Much
While everyone experiences increased levels of stress every now and then, prolonged exposure to your body’s stress response can bring on pain-causing inflammation and exacerbate existing chronic pain. This is because your body releases cortisol when it’s under stress.
Stop Cracking Your Joints
Many people have developed the habit of cracking their neck, back, knuckles and other joints. Whether you find the popping sound satisfying or you feel a sense of relief afterward, it has the potential to lead to joint-related problems down the line.
What Causes the “Cracking” Sound?
The “cracking” sound you hear isn’t actually your joints at all, it’s caused by bubbles popping in the synovial fluid that lubricates your joints. When your bones are pulled apart from each other, there is a buildup of pressure that causes these air bubbles to burst. The popping sound can also be attributed to the movement of ligaments when you bend and stretch your joints.
Side Effects of Cracking Your Joints
Contrary to popular belief, popping and cracking your joints doesn’t contribute to the development of arthritis. However, this habit increases your potential for injuries to your joints if done improperly or with too much force.
The joint where your finger meets the rest of your hand is called the metacarpophalangeal joint. Although this joint is relatively stable, it can be forced out of position when enough external force is applied. This most commonly affects the pinky fingers.
Your ligaments are the tissues that connect your bones at the site of a joint. When these supportive ligaments can be overstretched or torn when too much pressure is applied. This typically results in a popping or tearing sensation within the joint.
We’re all guilty of slouching every now and then, but the habit of having poor posture is more than unsightly. It can wreak havoc on your spinal health.
When you slouch, it causes your spine to go outside of it’s natural alignment. Thi adds pressure on the nerves surrounding your spine, resulting in a “pinched nerve.” Pinched nerves are typically associated with the following sensations:
When your spine is in its natural alignment, your skull, pelvis, and ribcage are stacked on one another. This allows your body to evenly distribute your weight, supporting you without strain. If you spend a lot of your time slouching, your spine takes on more stress and can result in misalignment.
Spinal misalignment can cause the following symptoms:
- Frequent headaches
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Hip pain
- Numbness and tingling in your extremities
- Changes in your walking pattern
Ignoring Your Aches & Pains
Although many of us find ourselves pushing through minor aches and pains to go on with our everyday activities. However, if you experience an injury and leave it unaddressed, it can lead to more damage, making your injury worse and requiring more invasive treatment.
If you notice persistent pain when doing certain activities or while you’re resting, you should make an appointment with your doctor to address the issue.
Primary and Specialty Care in Henry County
At Henry County Hospital
, we’ve been providing compassionate healthcare since 1919. When it comes to primary and specialty care, each patient can expect individualized care that meets their needs. From education to emotional support, we focus on your individual health and wellness.