As Singapore’s aged population is set to increase in the future, elderly health conditions are certain to gain prominence. One such condition is osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis.

Dr Katy Leung, Senior Consultant from the Department of Rheumatology and Immunology at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group says, “We now know that OA is not just wearing down of cartilage due to ageing, but that the whole joint is problematic. OA is caused by excess body weight, muscle laxity, joint malalignment and past joint injuries.”

Osteoarthritis may affect about 10 per cent of the adult and 20 per cent of elderly population but only a minority seek medical advice. With a variety of osteoarthritis treatments available, there is no need to bear with joint pain and swelling. If you think you may be at risk of developing osteoarthritis, there are a number of steps you can take.

5 tips to prevent osteoarthritis

1. Avoid injuries

Suffering a joint injury when you’re an adolescent or young adult can set you up for osteoarthritis when you get older. To avoid joint injuries when exercising or playing sports, you should:

  • Do warm-up exercises for a few minutes before engaging in any sport.
  • Wear proper footwear that provides shock absorption and stability.
  • Avoid running on asphalt and concrete.
  • When jumping, land with both knees bent.
  • Keep feet as flat as possible during stretches to avoid twisting knees.
  • When doing knee bends, avoid bending past 90°.
  • After engaging in vigorous sports, perform cool down exercises.

If you suffer a joint injury, seek proper medical treatment and take precautions to prevent further damage, such as using a brace to stabilise the affected joint.

2. Keep your muscles strong

There is a strong link between having weak thigh muscles and the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis. Muscles help support your joints so having strong muscles will go a long way towards osteoarthritis prevention. Swimming and cycling are great examples of workouts that do not overload your joints. If you already have osteoarthritis and worry about joint pain after exercise, ask your doctor or physiotherapist for tips to help you continue to stay active. They may recommend hot or cold application or even pain relievers. Physiotherapists are the best exercise coach who will assess your co​ndition and prescribe exercise appropriate to your level, and train them up with a step by step approach. It is important that you persevere with the right exer​cise regimen.

See next page for more prevention tips on osteoarthritis.

Ref. O17​