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Joint Health and Function

Joint painJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

By some estimates, over 27 million Americans suffer from some form of joint pain, loss of function or movement limitation. Joint replacement is quickly becoming one of the most common elective surgical procedures in the U.S. Over seven million Americans are living with full or partial knee replacement, and two and one half million with artificial hips. That number is projected to increase 149 percent by 2050. Women are more likely to undergo joint replacement than men, however men are increasingly undergoing total joint replacement surgery. Although the majority of all patients are between the ages of 50 and 80, studies indicate the average age of those undergoing joint replacement continues to decrease. Today the average age for hip replacement is just under 65, while the average age for knee replacement is just under 66 years.

The number of procedures being performed on younger persons is steadily growing due to a combination of factors. More than 50 percent of people undergoing total hip replacement and 79 percent of those undergoing total knee replacement are either obese or morbidly obese. More people have been active or athletic from adolescence through adulthood, often resulting in injuries that can cause arthritic damage. Additionally, many people expect their level of  activity to remain well into their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Surgical devices and techniques have improved over time. Although partial knee replacements are slated to last a decade before additional or revision surgery is needed, most total knee replacements endure for twenty years or longer.

Advantages of surgery include improved mobility and quality of life and, in most cases, freedom from pain. Alternatively, non-surgical conservative treatments such as weight reduction can reduce the strain on joints. Though often painful and difficult, some form of non-impact exercise, such as swimming or water aerobics can gradually improve the strength and flexibility of joints, possibly delaying surgical replacement for a number of years. An anti-inflammatory or arthritis-friendly diet can help reduce joint swelling and pain, as well as decrease the duration of morning inflexibility or stiffness.

Lifestyle habits that help support the health and function of your joints can include:

Diet: Frequently touted for its anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and disease fighting elements, the Mediterranean style diet may be the best for weight maintenance, as well as for curbing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and protecting against chronic conditions. The diet provides healthy omega-3 fats and includes foods such as olive oil, avocado and salmon that may help to lubricate the joints, as well reduce inflammation.

Weight maintenance: Joints are built to withstand a certain amount of force. Those who carry extra pounds put additional stress on weight bearing joints. Losing weight when needed reduces the loading force on the knee when a step is taken. A healthy diet and regular exercise improve the odds of reaching and maintaining an optimal weight.

Physical activity: Low impact exercises that minimize stress on joints include cycling, pilates, swimming, walking and yoga. Pay attention to pain signals that are different from muscle soreness. Don’t overdo and always balance activity with rest. For best results be sure to include five minutes of warm-up and cool-down exercises to reduce strain on joints and muscles. Proper strength training can help increase the stability of joints, while decreasing pain. Range of motion exercises that extend, bend or rotate the joints help to improve flexibility, relieve stiffness and pain and help protect joint function. Exercises that strengthen the quadricep muscles will help to support knee joints.

Joint support devices: To help prevent injury and aid healing consider wearing assistive devices such as braces or sleeves that support joint placement and absorb stress, shock and vibration. Elbow braces can promote comfort and healing of elbow pain during activity and rest. A sacroiliac belt supports the base of the spine, increases strength and lessens the chance of injury during activities such as bending, lifting or twisting. Knee braces stabilize the joint to allow ligaments to heal and help relieve pain.

Kick the habit: Those who smoke have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis and consequently a higher fracture risk. Smoking increases inflammation throughout the body and can increase recovery and healing time. Smoking is associated with chronic musculoskeletal conditions, including low back pain, degenerative disc disease and knee osteoarthritis, a leading cause of disability in older persons.

Researched based supplements: Well-designed clinical trials indicate certain nutrients can help maintain healthy cartilage or ease discomfort. These include turmeric to reduce joint pain and inflammation; omega-3 fish oils for powerful anti-inflammatory effects that may significantly decrease joint tenderness and stiffness; glucosamine/chondroitin to suppress anti-inflammatory pathways; and vitamins D3 and K2 for bone health support and efficient calcium absorption.

Professional Supplement Center offers many high quality formulas for joint and overall health support:

Curcum-EvailCurcum-Evail® by Designs for Health®: This patent-pending, highly bioavailable formula provides a unique combination of turmeric oil and three bioactive, health-promoting curcuminoids, the strongest most protective constituents of the turmeric root. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.

 

Theracurmin HP 600...Theracurmin® HP 600 mg by Integrative Therapeutics®: This product utilizes patented colloidal dispersion technology to enhance bioavailability and dramatically increase curcumin levels. Gluten, soy, wheat, dairy, yeast, preservative and artificial ingredient free. Vegan formulation.

 

EPA UltimateEPA Ultimate by Pure Encapsulations®: Sourced from Pacific ocean sardines and anchovies, this eco-friendly, supercritical CO2 extracted, high EPA fish oil concentrate supports skin, joint and vascular health, as well as mood and emotional wellbeing. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO formulation.

 

Glucosamine and...Glucosamine Chondroitin with MSM by Pure Encapsulations®: This formula provides specific nutritional support for connective tissue health, joint comfort, and optimal cartilage composition. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO formulation.

 

Vitamin D Supreme...Vitamin D Supreme with Vitamin K1 and K2 by Designs for Health®: This synergistic formula provides a clinically useful dose of vitamin D3, along with highly bioavailable K1 and K2, in support of optimal bone and arterial health as well as proper immune system balance. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.

References:
Clinical Outcomes and Statistics of Knee Replacement. https://www.healthline.com/health/total-knee-replacement-surgery/outcomes-statistics-success-rate#1
More men, younger Americans having joint replacement surgery. https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/06/health/hip-knee-replacement-surgeries-earlier-study/index.html
51 Ways to Be Good to Your Joints. https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/joint-protection/joint-health.php
Simple tips to protect your joints. https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/simple-tips-to-protect-your-joints
Smoking and Bone Health: https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/osteoporosis/conditions-behaviors/bone-smoking
Projected increase in total knee arthroplasty in the United States – an alternative projection model. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28801208