Mayo Clinic experts offer advice on preventing and coping with osteoarthritis, especially in the knees

Experts from the Mayo Clinic offer tips for both those trying to prevent and those suffering from a painful condition that affects at least 27 million Americans: osteoarthritis.

It is the most common form of arthritis, which most almost everyone is bound to get if they live long enough. One particular form, knee osteoarthritis, may afflict as many as half of Americans at some point in their lives, says a Mayo Clinic release.

Obesity, joint injuries, joint overuse, a family history and aging are among risk factors for knee osteoarthritis. Dr. Aaron Krych, a Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgeon, says maintaining a healthy weight is one key to preventing knee osteoarthritis. “Every pound lost can result in up to a 4-pound reduction in the load on the knee,” Dr. Amin says.

Amin says other tips for prevention including doing exercises to strengthen muscles around joints and preserve your range of motion and using assistive devices, such as special grips to open jars and protect finger joints or a cane, to ease the burden on your knees.

It is also important to maintain overall fitness through low-impact aerobic exercises, such as bicycling and water exercises, said Amin.  If you’re an athlete, learn techniques to protect your muscles and joints, he said.

For people already suffering form osteoarthritis, water-based exercises like swimming and water aerobics are good ways to get a workout while taking it easy on joints, said Amin. Tai chi and yoga are also good forms of exercise that can strengthen muscles and help maintain balance.

You can work with a physical therapist to develop a specific exercise program.  And, if osteoarthritis is making life difficult at home or work, making a list of those challenges and working with an occupational therapist can help, says Amin. It may also help to get proper cushioning and insoles for your shoes for both exercise and daily living.  Click here for more tips from the Mayo Clinic.

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