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You’re gearing up for retirement, planning family vacations, and welcoming grandkids into the world—the last thing you want to think about is bone health. But if you’re experiencing joint pain, taking steps toward healthier bones will make these things much more enjoyable.
Why your joints hurt
As you age, your joints endure some wear and tear over time, causing the cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones to wear down.
While osteoarthritis affects millions of people, you’re more at risk if you are overweight, older, or female. Those with family history of osteoarthritis or who have injured the joint in the past are also at higher risk.
Rule out other causes of joint pain
Though osteoarthritis is so common, Dr. de la Peña says you should still see your doctor before addressing the issue yourself.
“I would definitely get evaluated by a physician first thing,” Dr. de la Peña says. “While osteoarthritis is the most common cause of joint pain, you need to make sure it’s not due to another cause such as an injury, autoimmune-based arthritis, or gout.”
Always see your doctor about any new pain you experience. But if the pain is severe and your joint is red, hot, or swollen, you should seek care right away.
Move for better bones
The best way to tackle joint pain is regular exercise.
While strength training builds stronger bones, aerobic exercise helps you shed extra weight that’s putting pressure on your joints. If exercise isn’t already a part of your daily routine, Dr. de la Peña warns not to overdo it.
“It’s really important to start slow and have small, attainable goals,” Dr. de la Peña says. “Taking a 10-minute walk after dinner with your family can make a huge difference in the future.”
And while there’s no magic diet to cure joint pain, eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help you lose a few pounds and ease discomfort.
Talk to your primary care provider about how joint pain is affecting you.