5 Common Joint Problems and How To Prevent Them

by | Aug 17, 2023 | Health

The human body is a marvel of interconnectedness, where joints play a crucial role in enabling movement and flexibility. However, these intricate mechanisms can sometimes falter, giving rise to a variety of joint-related ailments that affect millions around the world. One such adversary is rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that sees the body turn against its own joint tissues.

Dr. Joanne Jordan, director of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center at the University of North Carolina, describes its progression as a gradual invasion, starting with the delicate joints of the hands and feet before spreading its reach to larger joints like shoulders and elbows. But joint troubles don’t stop there; tendinitis, osteoarthritis, gout, and bursitis also join the ranks of common afflictions that can disrupt the rhythm of life. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

In this article, we’ll delve into strategies to prevent these joint woes, drawing insights from medical experts and research findings. We’ll also explore the realm of treatments, because while relief might be a journey, a well-informed approach can make it a smoother ride. Whether you’re aiming to steer clear of joint issues or seeking ways to ease existing discomfort, this guide offers valuable insights into maintaining your body’s vital mobility.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is an autoimmune disorder in which your body attacks healthy joint tissue. “Rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect the small joints in your hands and feet first,” says Dr Joanne Jordan, director of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center at the University of North Carolina. “Then other joints, like the shoulders and elbows, start to become painful.”

Prevent it: Research from South Korea shows that people who consume the most vitamin D are 24% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than those who consume the least vitamin D.


Tendons attach muscle to bone. With tendinitis, that tissue becomes inflamed and sore. The worst nagging pain is felt at night. You can blame wear and tear due to sports, hobbies, or your job, says Dr Theodore Blaine, chief of shoulder and elbow surgery and a professor of rehabilitation at Yale School of Medicine.

Prevent it: Avoid trying to go from slug to stud too fast. “If you’re looking to get more fit, you should gradually increase your exercise,” Blaine says.

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The condition can announce itself with swelling, but it usually starts with nagging pain that can progress from minor to severe, Jordan says.

Prevent it: Warm up before you work out – an injury in your 20s can resurface as osteoarthritis pain in your 40s. And stay slim. Otherwise, Jordan explains, your joints have to work harder to carry your weight and fat cells promote joint inflammation.


Excess uric acid in your blood can form crystals around your joints. The result is joint inflammation and pain, most commonly felt in your big toe. The ache manifests as severe, sudden swelling, known as a flare.

Prevent it: Drink less alcohol and lay off heavy animal fats. A diet rich in purines – chemicals found commonly in red meat and seafood – can raise your gout risk, says Jordan, since your body metabolises these compounds and makes uric acid.

READ MORE: 7 Foods You Need To Include In Your Diet Regularly and Are Good for Your Liver


This is inflammation of your bursa – fluid-filled pouches that lie next to your tendons. The hallmark symptoms are swelling and pain, and the condition can be caused by either an acute injury or repetitive overuse.

Prevent it: Follow the same rule for preventing tendinitis. And forget the idea of “playing through the pain” – if you feel soreness in a shoulder, knee, or elbow, stop.

So you wound up with joint problems anyway? Here’s how to alleviate the suffering.

Treatment for joint pain varies depending on the ailment. Rheumatoid arthritis and gout may be treated with prescription anti-inflammatories and diet modifications (fish oil for RA, the Mediterranean diet and cranberry juice for gout). Osteoarthritis sufferers may need physical therapy. Tendinitis and bursitis require plain old rest from the activities that can aggravate them. All these treatments can help, but relief can be tedious and time consuming. With joint pain, prevention really is the best medicine.

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