Skip to content

Osteoarthritis Health Center

Select An Article

Osteoarthritis Prevention

Font Size

By age 65, more than half of us will have X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis, a disease in which the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones at the joints breaks down and bony overgrowth occurs. For many, the result is stiffness and pain in the joint.

Although osteoarthritis (or OA) is more common as we age, it is not an inevitable part of aging. As researchers work to understand the causes of osteoarthritis, they are able to offer advice to help prevent the disease or its progression and lessen its impact on your life.

Recommended Related to Osteoarthritis

Joint Pain Not Inevitable With Age

Creaky, achy joints. A twinge in the knee. A sharp shooting pain from the shoulder to the elbow. No big deal, right? Wrong. All too often, we assume joint pain is a normal part of aging that we just have to learn to live with. Nothing could be further from the truth, say experts, pointing to a wealth of treatment options from exercise and alternative supplements to medications and joint replacement surgery. It's a serious problem, because pain can affect every aspect of your life. "Pain is not...

Read the Joint Pain Not Inevitable With Age article > >

Here are four steps you can take now to prevent osteoarthritis or its progression.

No. 1: Control Weight

If you are at a healthy weight, maintaining that weight may be the most important thing you can do to prevent osteoarthritis. If you are overweight, losing weight may be your best hedge against the disease.

Obesity is clearly a risk factor for developing osteoarthritis. Data from the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a program of studies designed to assess the health and nutrition of Americans, showed that obese women were nearly four times as likely as non-obese women to have osteoarthritis. The risk for obese men was nearly five times greater than for non-obese men.

Being overweight strains the joints, particularly those that bear the body's weight such as the knees, hips, and joints of the feet, causing the cartilage to wear away.

Weight loss of at least 5% of body weight may decrease stress on the knees, hips, and lower back. In a study of osteoarthritis in a population in Framingham, Mass., researchers estimated that overweight women who lost 11 pounds or about two body mass index (BMI) points, decreased their risk of osteoarthritis by more than 50%, while a comparable weight gain was associated with an increased risk of later developing knee OA.

If you already have osteoarthritis, losing weight may help improve symptoms.

No. 2: Exercise

If the muscles that run along the front of the thigh are weak, research shows you have an increased risk of painful knee osteoarthritis. Fortunately, even relatively minor increases in the strength of these muscles, the quadriceps, can reduce the risk.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

elderly hands
Even with arthritis pain.
woman exercising
Here are 7 easy tips.
acupuncture needles in woman's back
How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
chronic pain
Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
Keep Joints Healthy
Chronic Pain Healthcheck
close up of man with gut
man knee support
woman with cold compress
Man doing tai chi
hand gripping green rubber ball
person walking with assistance