About the author of this section


expert_carol_cooper.jpgDr Carol Cooper is a prolific writer and broadcaster as well as a practising family doctor. She graduated in medicine from Cambridge University and then spent several years in different hospital specialties, most recently rheumatology, before entering general practice. Her special interests include arthritis, rheumatism, sports medicine and family health.


Looking After Your Joints

Joints don't just hold bones together. They're also crucial to mobility, allowing your bones to move.

Adults have over 250 joints in their body. These come in many different sizes and shapes, and play different roles. The shoulder and hip, for instance, have a ball-and-socket design to allow the greatest range of movement, while the knee is a variation on a hinge, and the wrist joint is a complex arrangement of several smaller joints.
Here are my tips to help you enjoy the best of joint health:

a) Maintain a healthy weight - Carrying excess weight puts extra strain on your joints. Keeping to a healthy weight will ease the load your joints have to bear.

b) Keep active - Muscle strength is essential to joint stability and strength. Move regularly to keep your muscles in good shape, and to stimulate the movement of synovial fluid in the joints. Inactivity allows joints to become stiff and more prone to wear and tear. Ensure any activity is suitable for your age and fitness level.

c) Listen to your body - If you are in pain, don't ignore it. Pain after exercise or after certain movements can indicate that you have damaged or overstressed your joints.

d) Eat oily fish at least once (or twice) a week - Oily fish is a valuable source of vitamin D which can help prevent rheumatoid arthritis. It also reduces inflammation associated with many forms of arthritis, and it may help protect cartilage from deteriorating.

e) Maintain a good posture - stand up straight as a good posture helps protect your joints in your neck, back, hips and knees. Take frequent breaks if you sit in one position for a long time, for instance at a computer.

f) Drink plenty of water - It's important to retain fluid in the cartilage by keeping the body hydrated and dehydration can trigger gout, a form of arthritis.

g) Consider daily supplements - There are supplements available that can help provide your body with the right nutrients to support your joint health.