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I Have a Family History of Spinal Arthritis: Can I Avoid It?

I Have a Family History of Spinal Arthritis: Can I Avoid It?

Spinal arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis of the spine, is a degenerative joint condition that affects the spinal joints. It’s commonly associated with aging and wear-and-tear on the joints. 

However, spinal arthritis can also be hereditary, and if you have a family history of spinal arthritis, you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do to avoid it. 

At the Spine Institute of Southeast Texas, board-certified orthopedic surgeon Thomas Jones II, MD, takes great care in helping patients keep their spine healthy as possible, regardless of the circumstance. If you’re concerned about a family history of arthritis, the good news is that your genes aren’t your destiny.

There are steps you can take to lower your risk of developing spinal arthritis.

Maintain a healthy weight

One of the biggest risk factors for spinal arthritis is being overweight or obese. The extra weight puts added pressure on the joints in your spine, which can accelerate the degenerative process. 

In fact, being overweight can increase the risk of arthritis by as much as 60%. In terms of spinal arthritis specifically, carrying excess weight can raise the risk of developing osteoarthritis of the spine by up to 30%.

That’s because being overweight by just 10 pounds significantly increases the force applied to your joints. This makes maintaining a healthy weight crucial for joint health. If you’re overweight, work closely with your primary care physician and discuss medically supervised weight loss programs to help you achieve and maintain your weight loss goals long term. 

Lead an active lifestyle

Regular exercise is not only important for maintaining a healthy weight, but it can also help keep your joints healthy and reduce your risk of developing spinal arthritis. Exercise strengthens the muscles that support your spine, which reduces the strain on your joints. 

Additionally, exercise improves your flexibility and range of motion, which can also help to reduce the risk of spinal arthritis.

A variety of exercises are beneficial for people with a family history of spinal arthritis, including:

If you aren’t used to exercising, start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. A personal trainer or physical therapist can help you develop a safe and effective exercise plan.

Be mindful of your posture

Poor posture can put extra stress on your spine, which can accelerate the degenerative process. Make an effort to maintain good posture throughout the day, especially when sitting for extended periods. Use ergonomic furniture, such as a chair with good back support, and take frequent breaks to stretch and move around.

Quit smoking (or don’t start)

Smoking is a known risk factor for a variety of health conditions, including spinal arthritis. Research has shown that smoking accelerates the degenerative process in the spine, increasing your risk of developing spinal arthritis. 

If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of developing spinal arthritis.

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet is important for overall health, but it can also help reduce your risk of developing spinal arthritis. Focus on eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Avoid processed foods and foods high in saturated fats and trans fats, which can contribute to inflammation and accelerate the degenerative process in your spine.

Consider supplements

A variety of supplements may help reduce your risk of spinal arthritis or slow its progression. Glucosamine and chondroitin are commonly used to support joint health. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil supplements, may also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce your risk of spinal arthritis.

Get regular checkups

If you have a family history of spinal arthritis, it's important to stay on top of your health. Regular checkups with a spine specialist can help catch any signs of spinal arthritis early so you can take action in slowing its progression. Dr. Jones can offer advice and support on lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of developing spinal arthritis.

While you may not be able to completely avoid spinal arthritis if you have a family history of the condition, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk. 

For a spine health evaluation, schedule a visit with Dr. Jones by calling our team at Spine Institute of Southeast Texas. We have locations in Pearland and Lake Jackson, Texas, to serve the needs of our spine patients. 

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