The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that in 2021, 58.5 million U.S. adults were living with some form of arthritis. The disease — which has over 100 different variations — is the leading cause of work disability in the U.S., with an annual medical cost of $303.5 billion.

“Arthritis is a condition that can cause swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion in your joints. Arthritis symptoms can range from mild to severe and may get worse over time,” per BlueCross BlueShield.

The two most diagnosed types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis comes most often with age, but is also diagnosed following injury or weight gain. The disease causes the tissues between one’s joints to wear away and create a painful stiffness most common in the hands, spine, hips and knees.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints. According to BlueCross BlueShield, the disease “usually affects more than one joint and can spread to other parts of the body, including the heart, lungs and eyes. Some people who have rheumatoid arthritis get lumps that form over joint areas, often on knuckles, elbows and heels.”

Unfortunately, the pain associated with arthritis can be chronic. Those diagnosed can have pain for as little as four months to as long as their remaining lifetime.

Some causes of arthritis can be inevitable, such as the natural aging process or having a family history of the chronic illness. However, prevention methods can delay the onset of symptoms or even decrease the likelihood of developing arthritis.

Healthy dieting

Maintaining a balanced diet is proven to reduce multiple health risks.

Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids slows the risk of arthritis by reducing inflammation in the body. According to Healthline, research has shown that consuming omega-3 specifically reduces the pain in joints caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

Foods rich with these healthy polyunsaturated fats include salmon and trout, or vegetarian options like walnuts and chia seeds. You can also take omega-3 supplements such as fish oil and algae oil.

Daily exercise

Physical exercise plays a vital role in keeping our bodies in healthy shape as we age.

According to John Hopkins Arthritis Center, “Regular physical activity can keep the muscles around affected joints strong, decrease bone loss and may help control joint swelling and pain. Regular activity replenishes lubrication to the cartilage of the joint and reduces stiffness and pain.”

Low-impact exercises such as swimming and walking are good focus points for targeting parts of the body like the hips and knees that need to be strengthened in order to prevent arthritis.

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Simply exercising for 30 minutes five times a week can keep limbs more limber and muscles loose and relaxed. The CDC recommends that any type of exercise is better than none for people looking to improve their quality of life and function when dealing with arthritis.

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Maintain a healthy weight

Additional weight gain puts extra stress on a person's joints. Knees take on the majority of damage that comes from weight gain and can worsen arthritis symptoms.

“Being just 10 pounds overweight increases the force on your knees by 30 to 40 pounds with every step you take,” said Kevin Fontaine, assistant professor of rheumatology at Johns Hopkins University, per WebMD.

Healthline said, “Nearly 23% of people with overweight and 31% of people with obesity in America have a diagnosis of arthritis. ... Losing 10% to 20% of starting body weight can help improve pain, improve quality of life and improve function when compared with losing 5% of body weight.”

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