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We're well into October, and you've probably seen more than your share of skeletons this month. But while you walk by all those Halloween decorations, why not take a moment to think about what you could be doing for your skeleton? October 12-20 is Bone and Joint Health Action Week, a celebration to build awareness of musculoskeletal health.
Musculoskeletal conditions are some of the most common health ailments in the world, but are often overlooked for research and funding compared to more immediately threatening diseases. The variety and complexity of many bone and joint conditions, as well as their long-term effects, mean that diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders can be difficult. And they often have an outsize impact on public health compared to the focus placed on them.
The effect of musculoskeletal conditions is massive and widespread. Some facts to keep in mind:
Bone and joint disorders comprise a large variety of ailments, all with different causes and impacts. These include:
The wide variety of bone and joint disorders makes treating them require different approaches, and they may differ based on the patient. Fortunately, there are steps you can take even before a musculoskeletal condition develops. Some treatments and lifestyle changes to consider:
Exercise may be a difficult endeavor if you have a preexisting bone or joint condition, but a physical therapist or other medical professional can help design an exercise regimen that meets your specific needs. Conditions that may require specific exercise methods include:
Posture: Many musculoskeletal conditions are caused or worsened by your body naturally moving or relaxing in positions that strain the bones and joints. Maintaining correct posture, possibly through the help of posture-correcting exercise devices or supportive positioning devices, can help address this.
So many bone and joint disorders are caused or made worse by a lack of essential nutrients. Regardless of your age, you may want to speak to a doctor or dietitian about your nutritional needs, so that you can get the most out of your meals.
Nutrients for Healthy Bones and Joints: A proper diet can do amazing things for your bone and joint health. Aside from the benefits caused by maintaining a healthy weight, certain nutrients that are readily found in foods as well as dietary supplements are necessary to a strong musculoskeletal system.
These nutrients include:
Fighting Inflammation: Believe it or not, if you suffer from rheumatic issues like arthritis, many foods can be used to reduce the accompanying inflammation. These include leafy greens, tomatoes, fruits (strawberries, blueberries, oranges, and cherries), nuts, olive oil, and fatty fish. Foods that promote inflammation include refined carbohydrates and sugars, processed meats, lard, and fried food.
Healthy Weight: Many bone and joint conditions are worsened by being either too heavy or too thin. How can your weight affect you?
Stress Relief Methods: Stress can be a major contributor to back and joint pain. Although invisible, don't count stress out as a culprit -- its effects can lead to changes in your habits and environment that affect your health. While fatigued due to stress, you may limit exercise and other leisure activities, eat poorly, or suffer from lack of sleep.
If you're dealing with stress, consider adopting the following habits:
Hydrotherapy: Aside from aquatic therapy to strengthen muscle, hydrotherapy techniques like whirlpool baths, ice packs, and moist heat packs can be invaluable in dealing with the pain and inflammation that come with a musculoskeletal condition.
Assistive Devices: If you suffer from a bone or joint condition, an assistive device may help you move more freely and maintain independence. Walkers, braces, and other supportive positioning devices are available whether you need help with moving or with reducing stress on your body at rest.
These are among the many possible treatments to bone and joint conditions. Each person's experience and body are different, however. Your skeleton is not as simple as the cartoon ones on store windows right now; bones are organs that need to be maintained, and they're connected by an intricate system of muscles, ligaments, and joints. It's important to pay attention to your body, to not dismiss your aches and pains, and to consult with your doctor when something's affecting your mobility or comfort. Your skeleton will thank you!