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5 Joint health tips from Dr Emma Derbyshire

Joint health is a problem that worries many people, especially when it comes to the wear and tear of a cartilage like the articular.

The articular cartilage is the covering that the bones have at their ends, and its functions are to cushion the load and facilitate the sliding between bones.

It is important to bear in mind that the wear and tear of the articular cartilage is not caused by excessive sports, or by being on your feet for too long, or by working your entire life climbing stairs. If the articular cartilage suffers wear, it is due to a series of changes in the internal fluid of the joint, which weaken the cartilage and cause it to wear. (1-3)

So, all of this leads us to the next question: what can you do to maintain or improve your joint health? Here are 5 tips:

  1. Don't fret about wear and tear

You have already learned that wear and tear is not caused by movement and that it also does not cause pain on its own. So, you should not worry about whether you move or exercise, but rather the opposite.

  1. Exercise regularly

Exercise is the best protector of the joints (4). As you have seen, joint problems tend to stem from inflammatory problems rather than from actual wear and tear, and it is exercise that will help prevent that inflammation. There are different types of beneficial exercises for the joints. Although health personnel can best advise you on what exercise is best for you, you have many options at your fingertips: mobility exercise, yoga, tai chi, walking, cycling, running, strength exercises. Everything will depend on your initial state and your preferences.

  1. Stay active

Staying active is an important part of your joint health: move frequently, take the stairs and avoid the elevator, walk to places whenever you can and do not sit for a long time or without moving. All of this will help your joints stay in good condition.

  1. Don't push yourself too hard from one day to the next

Just as exercise is essential, so is not starting from 0 to 100 in a day, as that could increase your pain and make you believe that the pain was caused by exercise. Physical activity and exercise to reduce pain should be progressive, and no one better than your physiotherapist to recommend and help you in that progression.

  1. Cold versus heat versus compression

Nothing is going to reduce your inflammation as much as staying active. But there are also useful alternative remedies that can ease your discomfort. For example, you could test whether the cold or the heat affects your joints more.  Secondly, if your pain is accompanied by swelling, you could try using a soft compression stocking, as it may help relieve your pain.


1.Bricca, A., Juhl, CB, Steultjens, M., Wirth, W., & Roos, EM (2018). Impact of exercise on articular cartilage in people at risk of, or with established, knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine, bjsports – 2017–098661. doi: 10.1136 / bjsports-2017-098661

2.Collins, KH, Herzog, W., MacDonald, GZ, Reimer, RA, Rios, JL, Smith, IC,… Hart, DA (2018). Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, and Musculoskeletal Disease: Common Inflammatory Pathways Suggest a Central Role for Loss of Muscle Integrity. Frontiers in Physiology, 9.doi: 10.3389 / fphys.2018.00112

3.Wang, X., Hunter, D., Xu, J., & Ding, C. (2015). Metabolic triggered inflammation in osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 23 (1), 22–30. doi: 10.1016 / j.joca.2014.10.002

4.Uthman, OA, van der Windt, DA, Jordan, JL, Dziedzic, KS, Healey, EL, Peat, GM, & Foster, NE (2013). Exercise for lower limb osteoarthritis: systematic review incorporating trial sequential analysis and network meta-analysis. BMJ, 347 (sep20 1), f5555 – f5555.doi: 10.1136 / bmj.f5555