Contributed by: Priyaish Srivastava

Introduction

Joints help in holding your skeletal structure together and ease body movements. They are protected by a supportive connective tissue called cartilage. Cartilage can be found in every joint of the body and plays the role of a cushion between them ensuring that bones do not rub against each other get damaged. 

Several factors including aging, injury, and carrying too much weight can harm the joints by damaging the cartilage, and may even lead to arthritis

Healthy joints allow the smooth functioning of fingers, elbows, shoulders, neck, waist, knees, and ankles to help in running, walking, jumping, playing sports, and performing other physical activities. These functions can be influenced by a host of unhealthy habits that you might have implemented in your daily routine.

Habits that can affect joint health

  • Smoking
  • Continuous texting
  • Lack of physical activities
  • Moving around with a heavyweight on the back for long durations
  • No strength training (weight lifting)
  • Ignoring conditions like tenderness, stiffness, and swelling of the joints
  • Excessive exercising
  • Lack of calcium and vitamin D
  • Inadequate sleep (less than 8 hours)

Symptoms of unhealthy joints

Maintaining joint health is very crucial for mobility. Certain unhealthy lifestyle practices may lead to the development of symptoms, indicating that joint health is deteriorating and immediate attention is necessary.

  • Redness of the joints
  • Loss of muscle strength
  • Swelling of the joints
  • Joint stiffness
  • Tenderness of the joints
  • Lessened or no movement
  • Limping
  • Locked joints
  • Joints become warm

Causes of joint pain

The above-mentioned symptoms of joint pain start to occur when the body is affected by certain conditions. These conditions are:

  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation of the cartilage 
  • Lupus – a condition in which the immune system attacks the joint
  • Gout – painful swelling of the joints
  • Infections like influenza and hepatitis
  • Chondromalacia – damage to the cartilage under the knee cap
  • Bone injury
  • Tendinitis – inflammation of connective tissue between muscles and bones
  • Bone or joint infection
  • Excessive use of the joints
  • Cancer
  • Fibromyalgia – chronic pain in the muscles and joints
  • Osteoporosis – a condition in which bones become weak and break easily

These causes of joint pain can not only be debilitating but can have a massive negative impact on your daily life. While, avoiding certain medical conditions such as cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis isn’t exactly in your hands, yet, implementing healthy lifestyle changes can help you prevent their onset and relieve you of the joint 

Here are the top three lifestyle changes for a healthy joint:

Top 3 healthy lifestyle practices for joint health

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Weight management is very beneficial for overall health as it aids in making muscles, bones, and joints strong. It can help in promoting joint health by regulating strain on the knees, ankles, hips, and back. Some studies prove that every pound of extra weight a body gains exerts approximately four times extra pressure on the joints. The best method of maintaining a healthy weight is by consuming a nutritious diet and doing regular exercises like running, strength training, stretching, skipping, swimming, or yoga.
  • Practice correct posture: Proper posture helps manage the stress on the joints and reduces the risk of muscle injuries. Being careful about your posture while sitting, standing, or while performing other physical activities, especially, pickup up heavy objects can help in maintaining the right posture and prevent joint damage.
  • Consume a nutritious diet: A nutrient-rich diet is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. It helps in reducing joint inflammation, promotes healthy weight loss, increases muscle strength, and makes bones stronger. However, anything done in excess can be harmful, so the diet should also be consumed in moderation.

The top 7 foods essential for a healthy joint

  • Garlic: It is one of the most commonly available ingredients in India. It is generally mixed with other dishes but provides more health benefits when consumed raw. Enriched with anti-inflammatory properties, garlic aids in managing symptoms of arthritis by strengthening the immune system and also helps in reducing the risk of hip osteoarthritis.
  • Ginger: Consuming ginger regularly with tea, soup, food (as an ingredient), or in raw form can provide relief from knee pain in osteoarthritis patients, and can mimic the effects of arthritis drugs that are prescribed to alleviate pain and inflammation.
  • Broccoli: Broccoli is one of the healthiest foods and has several health benefits. Consuming broccoli can help reduce inflammation and may also block the formation of cells that are responsible for the development of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Walnuts: Walnuts are enriched with nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids that can help decrease the symptoms of arthritis and control joint inflammation.
  • Berries: Berries are enriched with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help in promoting a healthy joint by reducing arthritis-induced inflammation.
  • Spinach: Spinach is an extremely healthy leafy green vegetable that has numerous health benefits. Enriched with antioxidants, spinach tends to reduce inflammation related to rheumatoid arthritis and slow the development of osteoarthritis.
  • Grapes: Enriched antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, eating grapes tend to decrease inflammatory markers in the blood. They are also very beneficial in the treatment of arthritis as they block the development of rheumatoid arthritis cells. 

Final thoughts

Maintaining joint health is very important for the overall movement of the body. If the symptoms occur and are left untreated, they can cause severe pain and may even develop lymphoma- cancer that strikes the defending cells of the immune system.

However, the aforementioned healthy lifestyle changes and dietary recommendations can help manage and improve the condition of the joints. We also recommend undergoing an early or preventive diagnosis to identify the exact cause of the nature of the joint pain and take necessary measures to prevent them.

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