Arthritis, the inflammation of joints that leads to pain and stiffness, affects more than 40 million people in the United States alone. While often thought of as a condition that only affects the elderly, because the risks for developing arthritis do increase with age, anyone of any demographic can be at risk. Obesity, genetics and infection are all causes for increased arthritis chances. So are injuries, which is why so many athletes face joint problems or other kinds of chronic pain associated with arthritis.
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There are hundreds of conditions that fall under the arthritis category. Of them, osteoarthritis, or "wear-and-tear arthritis" is the most common. It's also the kind that is most likely to form after a sports-related injury. Athletes who suffer from ligament tears, fractures that go through the joints or bruised cartilage are more susceptible to arthritis. These kinds of injuries will affect the way joints, like knees and wrists, move. These irregular movements can cause stress that leads to erosion of cartilage and surfaces in joints, which in turn leads to swelling, inflammation and pain.
The best way to prevent injuries from turning into arthritis is to prevent the injury in the first place. Use all sports equipment properly and make sure you are warmed up well before starting any kind of strenuous activity. If you already have a sports injury, it is important to take care of it to prevent developing an arthritic condition. For some injuries, like a torn ACL, surgery can help. It's important not to over exert yourself and try to push your injured joint too hard before having a chance to heal properly. Take some time to allow your body to restore itself before rushing back on to the court or field.
Once you already have arthritis you can manage your pain with low-intensity exercises, like yoga or water aerobics. Anti-inflammatory pain relievers can also help. Be sure to watch out for changes in barometric pressure, 67 percent of people reportedly feel the effects of changing weather in their joints.
Accuweather.com Facebook fan Jan Brown said, "'Every time a cold front comes in both my husband and I have pain in the joints and he even feels it in the spiral breaks he had in his lower leg from a motorcycle accident."
Fan Ann Bergheim commented saying, "For years I've been calling myself the human barometer. I can tell when it's changing every time. Arthritis..."
For more information on how weather can affect sports injuries and arthritis, watch Jeannette Calle's video: