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Six ways to protect your joints

Degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis affects over 30 million adults in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is often called “wear and tear arthritis” because it is caused by a gradual breaking down of the cartilage and bones within a joint due to use or overuse. Although it may not be possible to completely prevent arthritis, there are ways to protect your joints and reduce the risk of developing the disease. Here are six tips from the Arthritis Foundation that may help protect your joints so they continue to operate longer without pain.

Technology tactics
Although there is little movement while you are sitting in front of the computer monitor, you can be straining joints and muscles. Consider using document holders attached to the computer monitor at eye level to reduce neck strain. Keep your body about 20 to 26 inches from the monitor. Position the monitor so that it is even with the top of your head. Your arms should hang comfortably with your elbows at right angles while using the keyboard. Use a wrist rest so that your wrists extend outward while typing to reduce wrist overuse. Finally, try to move about and change posture once every thirty minutes.

Function over fashion
A 3-inch high heel may look amazing but it is stressing the foot seven times more than a 1-inch heel. High heels also increase the wear and tear on your knees, so avoid them. Protect the joints in your feet and knees by choosing shoes that have flexible yet supportive soles. Double check to make sure the shoe flexes at the ball of your foot since this is the place where you push off to walk. The toe should be squared or rounded to allow your toes to move freely. A rubber sole will offer the maximum cushioning protection.

Diet directives
Losing extra pounds is one of the best ways to reduce strain on your joints. Every extra pound gained puts four times the stress on your knees. However, losing just 11 pounds can cut your risk of osteoarthritis by 50 percent. When deciding what is for dinner, think in color. Oranges have vitamin C, which reduces osteoarthritis risks. Berries and fruits with dark colors contain fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals which benefit joints. Romaine lettuce, broccoli, kale and parsley have high calcium levels, which help reduce bone loss. Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and mackerel can help reduce joint pain and stiffness.

Exercise endeavors
Strength training is important for joint health. Lifting weights can strengthen bones and muscles, which keeps your joints in alignment and working properly and that translates to less wear and tear. Pay some attention to core strength also since it is a key part of proper balance. When you have a strong core, you are less likely to fall or use joints improperly. Avoid exercise that is hard on your feet like kick boxing or step aerobics. Stamping your feet can put stress on joints and damage them. Try low impact exercise options like biking or swimming that are easier on the joints.

Learn to lift
When you must move a heavy load, use the palms of your hands to keep the stress off your fingers. If possible, spread the load over your arms instead of your hands. Hold the items close to your body to reduce the strain on your joints. Whenever possible, try to slide or use a wheeled dolly for moving heavy objects. Your joints will appreciate the effort.

Pamper pain
The way you treat yourself after exercise or other exertion is important. You need to relax the muscles and soothe the joints to reduce risk of damage. A hot soak or a heating pad can relieve pain and stiffness. Cold packs will reduce pain and swelling. Consider investing in a massage when you finish a major, stressful task. Choose a trained massage professional who knows how to focus on improving the function of muscles and joints.

When the damage is done
When joint damage is so severe that pain is constant, joint replacement is often the best answer. However, undergoing surgery to replace a joint is just the first step. For replacement success, there needs to be focused rehabilitation. The best way to be assured of getting the best care following joint replacement surgery is to choose to recover in a short-term care facility.

Choose the best
Whitehall of Deerfield has a long-standing reputation for providing the highest quality post-hospital rehabilitation in luxurious surroundings. The Elective Orthopedic Pavilion at Whitehall of Deerfield, exclusively for those recovering from elective orthopedic surgery, is the North Shore’s luxury destination for post-hospital rehabilitation. Whitehall of Deerfield’s Elective Orthopedic Pavilion offers a full range of therapies targeted to meet each guest’s individual needs. A clinical nurse liaison completes an assessment to discover areas that need attention. Then physical and occupational therapists work one-on-one with guests seven days a week. State-of-the-art rehabilitation gyms provide all the equipment needed to reach your highest level of independence and functioning. This consistent, attentive and compassionate care is provided by everyone from the concierge to the nursing staff.

Elective Orthopedic Pavilion guests also enjoy their own private rooms complete with attentive concierge service; an iPad or laptop computer available for personal use; daily newspaper, gourmet coffee and delicious snacks delivered to guest rooms each day; in-room dining with a wide range of menu choices; in-room massages available and many more world-class amenities.

There are few short-term rehabilitation centers that can come close to matching the luxury and level of expertise of Whitehall of Deerfield’s Elective Orthopedic Pavilion. To arrange a tour or to learn more, visit whitehallofdeerfield.com or call 847-945-4600.

300 Waukegan Road Deerfield, IL 60015 | 847.945.4600