Bone and Joint Health
Having healthy bones and joints is a crucial component of your overall physical well-being. In fact, the health of your bones and joints may affect how you feel on a daily basis even more so than the health of your heart, kidneys, or other vital body parts. Many of us take bone and joint health for granted. It is not until we suffer from an orthopedic health condition that we realize how critical bones and joints are to our ability to function on a daily basis.
At Lompoc Valley Medical Center, we ally with you to help you make the most of your musculoskeletal system so that you can continue to participate in the activities and other aspects of life that you love the most.
Taking good care of your bones and joints starts with a healthy lifestyle. Luckily, there are specific measures you can take to prevent the development of future bone and joint disease.
Bones and Joints: The Basics
Bones are living tissues that provide protection for our internal organs, give structure to our bodies, and allow us to move throughout the world. They are also important for the storage of minerals such as calcium and phosphate, which are used in various processes throughout the entire body.
Joints are formed when two or more bones join together. Joints come in all forms. Some are very “fixed,” and do not allow for much motion. Others, such as your shoulder and knees, allow for a great deal of motion. Many joints are padded with a gel-like substance called cartilage, which is softer than bone and allows for a smooth range of motion. Some joints are further lubricated with fluid-filled sacs called “bursa,” which allow for even more flexibility and range of motion.
How to Keep Your Bones and Joints Healthy
When it comes to taking care of your bones and joints, you have a lot of control. The following are ways to keep your bones and joints healthy.
Seeking Medical Care for Bones and Joints
If you have a concern about the health of your bone or joints, it is important to seek medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury. This early action can prevent the worsening of your condition and improve outcomes when it comes to your daily function and level of pain.
Some of the most common conditions people seek medical care for include arthritis, osteoporosis, and orthopedic injuries. Read on to learn more about these common conditions that affect bone and joint health.
Arthritis refers to inflammation of the joints. This inflammation can occur from a number of conditions, but the most common type of arthritis is known as osteoarthritis (OA). This condition is the result of “wear and tear” on the joints, and the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis increases with age. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 32.5 million Americans are living with osteoarthritis. Other types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis (this is a form that occurs in children), gouty arthritis, septic arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.
Osteoporosis is a condition of decreased bone density. When the bones become too thin, they are fragile and brittle, making them more vulnerable to breaking. There are several risk factors for osteoporosis, including increased age, female gender, low body weight, ethnicity, and family history. Certain behaviors, such as drinking or smoking, can contribute to low bone density as well.
If you are concerned about the density of your bones, make sure to discuss with your medical provider ways to assess your bone density and behaviors you can enact to positively impact your bone density. Your medical provider may recommend blood tests or imaging tests to further quantify your bone health. If you are found to have osteoporosis, your medical provider may recommend lifestyle changes, medications, or a combination of both interventions.
No matter who you are, you are vulnerable to an orthopedic injury. An orthopedic injury can include a strain, sprain, or fracture. Even healthy people without any preexisting conditions can suffer an incidental fall, sports injury, or work-related injury.
Luckily, most orthopedic injuries can be treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation, an acronym commonly referred to as “RICE.” Sometimes a splint or cast can be useful as well to immobilize the affected joint or bone.