Following on the heels of a recent study on rheumatoid arthritis, Santa Rosa Orthopaedics offers three important tips for maintaining healthy joints highlighting weight, diet and an active lifestyle.

Jogging joints largerResults released in November from two studies on rheumatoid arthritis help to highlight the importance of maintaining a lifestyle that helps to keep joints healthy for the long run. “Results from these studies can be an important guide for people who may be susceptible to arthritis says SRO Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Thomas Degenhardt. “Knowing the importance of pursuing an active routine combined with a healthy diet and maintaining optimal weight are the best ways to keep joints healthy and improve patient outcomes well into the New Year.”

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that specifically affects the joints – frequently resulting in joint damage, deformity and loss of function. RA most commonly affects women but both men and women of all ages can be diagnosed with this debilitating disease. Symptoms include; pain, stiffness and swelling of various joints particularly the small joints in the hands and feet. Rheumatoid inflammation has also been known to develop in other organs of the body including the lungs.

The Research

Recent research by way of the Nurses’ Health Study II – a culmination of two studies related to diet and RA reveals that the typical American diet that is made up of red meat, processed meat, refined grains, fried food, high-fat dairy and sugary treats leads to a manifestation of RA much more readily than diets that revolve around fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, poultry and fish.

For this particular study, researchers followed female registered nurses between 25 to 42 years of age – all without RA symptoms – who provided detailed answers pertaining to their diet every four years for a decade. The study results points to a very real likelihood that a healthy diet may be a way to prevent this debilitating disease, especially for high risk populations.

Healthy Weight for Healthy Joints

Maintaining a healthy diet and keeping body weight within a healthy range is the best way to keep joints functioning at optimal levels. Those joints which bear the most body weight such as knees, hips and back are most often affected by arthritis and other chronic joint problems. The more weight a person carries, the more wear and tear is put on joints.

By maintaining a healthy weight less pressure is applied over time to the knees, hips and back helping to prevent joint injury. For example, some research results have indicated that with every pound gained, as much as four times more stress is applied to the knees alone.

Keep Moving for Healthy Joints

Exercise can help take off those extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight over the long term. Many researchers now suggest that aerobic exercise — activities that get the heart rate up – can help to reduce joint swelling. Low-impact exercises such as swimming or bicycling are recommended for patients who have existing joint pain. As little as 30 minutes of physical activity per day has shown to help a person feel better while preventing a wide variety of medical conditions including joint pain from arthritis.
People who work at computers or who are at a desk all day have a higher risk for joint pain. Less movement tends to lead to stiffness in joints. By changing positions frequently, answering the phone while standing, and taking frequent breaks at work – including stretching and short walks – can be highly beneficial to overall joint health.

A Joint-Healthy Diet

Eating a balanced diet will help manage weight and provide a variety of nutrients for overall health. A healthy diet – like that suggested by the Nurses’ Health Study can help keep joints and bones strong. A diet that is low in solid fats, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), added sugars and refined grains is recommended. Foods for a joint healthy diet includes:

• naturally vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables
• whole grains
• low-fat dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
• protein from lean meats, poultry, seafood, beans, eggs, legumes and nuts

About SRO

For over sixty years, SRO has provided people in pain with hip, knee, ankle, elbow, and shoulder replacement surgery, as well as state-of-the-art outpatient physical therapy services to make damaged joints healthy again. SRO surgeons and physical therapists care and pride themselves on getting patients back to the activities they love, and helping re-establish independence and livelihood.

In its efforts to bring the best outcomes to patients, SRO also offers patients in-house diagnostic imaging, rehabilitation, sports injury prevention, as well as advanced surgical treatments in joint replacement, sports medicine, trauma care, hand, foot, ankle, and general orthopedic surgery. For more information about SRO surgeons and services visit or call 707.546.1922.