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Owner’s Guide to Joint Health

Most of us probably do not think much about our knees, back, shoulders and other joints until they become painful or stop working properly.

“Each season brings its own influx of injuries related to a different set of sports as well as outdoor activities. When people use muscles that they have not used since last year, it can result in painful strains,” says Cathleen London, MD, a family physician and competitive triathlete. “Many of these injuries and inflammations are caused by underlying chronic joint conditions which resurface with renewed activity and resulting inflammation.”

Here is a short quiz to help you determine how much you know about joint health, and the best ways for addressing joint pain.

Answer true or false to these 10 questions: 1. Processed foods are bad for knees and other joints. 2. Stretching is one of the best ways to maintain joint health. 3. For chronic joint pain relief, the only over-the-counter options shown to work are ibuprofen or glucosamine/chondroitin. 4. Building up my muscle mass can help protect my joints. 5. Never exercise if your joints hurt.

Answers: 1. True. “Processed foods often contain trans fat, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and preservatives that can increase inflammation throughout the body including your joints,” says Dr. London. 2. True. “Stretching when warm is a good way to keep your muscles and ligaments strong and flexible.” 3. False. “There are a number of safe and effective supplements that help to soothe joint pain including turmeric, glucosamine/chondroitin, fish oil, Vitamin C and pycnogenol. One new option to improve joint comfort and flexibility is natural eggshell membrane (NEM) 4. True. “Muscles act as both cushions and shock absorbers for your joints. Without muscle tissue, your joints take a pounding. One of the best ways to address arthritis pain — the most common cause of joint pain — is exercise. It can help reduce joint pain and stiffness , and increase muscle strength and flexibility. Specific muscle groups can be strengthened to help protect joints (i.e. hamstrings for knees).” 5. False. “Sitting or standing all day can cause joint stiffness. If your career keeps you at your desk or at your feet for hours at a time, try to change positions frequently and take a walk during your breaks. Keep moving!”

How did you do? Unless you answered all five questions correctly, you might want to study up on joint health. You will need your joints every day of your life so taking care of them should be a priority.

Dr. London adds that people are often unaware of the role that water plays in joint health. “Nearly 70 percent of our body weight is water. Dehydration can lead to achy joints and make you feel exhausted.”

Always seek medical attention for severe or persistent joint pain, and for joint pain that is accompanied by swelling, fever or other serious symptoms.

Biography – Dr. Cathleen London Cathleen London, M.D., is a board certified family medicine physician. As such, her practice encompasses the entire family, including all ages, both sexes, and any health problems that may arise. Family Medicine is the first specialty that requires board recertification by written exam every 7 years. As a result, many believe that family physicians are best qualified to serve as each patient’s advocate in all health-related matters, including use of consultants, health services, and community resources.

Dr. London believes in an integrative, holistic approach to healthcare which utilizes a combination of western, allopathic medicine, diet and lifestyle modification, nutritional supplements and herbal medicines when appropriate.

She earned her medical degree from Yale University and completed her residency in family medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University. Her pre-medical requirements were completed at Stanford University.

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