More than 32 million Americans have osteoarthritis (OA), a degenerative joint disease that develops when a joint’s protective layer of cartilage wears away. While most people know repetitive movements and high-impact activities can make OA and its symptoms worse, many don’t realize that poor posture can, too.
With practices in Spring, Houston, Baytown, Willis, and The Woodlands, Texas, Zaid Malik, MD, and the team at Superior Pain Relief provide comprehensive treatment plans for osteoarthritis that can include medication, physical therapy, and recommendations for lifestyle changes.
As part of Arthritis Awareness Month, Dr. Malik offers this overview of how posture and arthritis are linked so you can take steps to reduce your OA risks and symptoms.
Posture and arthritis
Your joints are designed to work best when they’re properly aligned. Normal joint alignment distributes your weight evenly, optimizes the way you move, and prevents wear spots.
If you have poor posture, that alignment is compromised. Slouching and slumping alter the way pressure is placed on your joints, creating areas of friction that ultimately lead to damaged cartilage.
Many people think poor posture only affects weight-bearing joints, or the joints in your spine or your feet. But continual slouching over a computer or cellphone puts extra strain on your neck, shoulders, and arms. Even your finger, wrist, and elbow joints can be affected if you type or text while practicing bad posture.
Improvements you can make
Fortunately, poor posture is one osteoarthritis factor that’s relatively easy to fix. These five tips can help.
1. Take breaks
If your job or leisure activities involve a lot of sitting, work in plenty of breaks to walk around and stretch. Regular movement relieves joint strain and serves as a helpful reminder to sit up straight. Set a timer on your phone or computer or use TV commercial breaks as reminders to get up and move every 15-20 minutes.
2. Drop those extra pounds
Carrying extra weight throws off your center of gravity and pulls your joints out of alignment. Depending on where you carry those extra pounds, the weight can also lead to poor posture. Losing added pounds reduces joint strain and helps you keep your joints properly aligned.
3. Get plenty of exercise
Poor posture leads to muscle imbalances, too, which in turn can lead to poor posture. Regular exercise breaks this cycle by keeping your muscles strong and flexible, improving your posture and keeping joint pain at bay.
4. Use good ergonomics
Optimizing the ergonomics of your workspace includes making changes to help prevent poor posture and the painful symptoms it causes.
Choosing a chair with good support for your spine and neck, adjusting the seat height for your work surface, making sure your monitor is at eye level, and elevating your feet while sitting at a desk are all great examples of ergonomic improvements that can improve posture and reduce or prevent pain.
5. Don’t ignore joint pain
Even mild joint pain can be a sign of osteoarthritis damage, which is why you should get an evaluation for any type of joint pain or stiffness right away. Early diagnosis enables your doctor to begin treatment early on, too, to relieve your pain, prevent disability, and slow the progression of OA.
Reduce your risk of osteoarthritis pain
Improving your posture is just one way to reduce your risk of OA and the symptoms it causes. To learn what else you can do and how we can help you maintain your joint health, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Malik and the team at Superior Pain Relief.