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Each year in October, the United States Bone and Joint Initiative promotes Bone and Joint Health Awareness Week, which is focused on educating the general public about musculoskeletal (bone and joint) conditions. As a leading cause of chronic pain and physical disability worldwide, bone and joint disease affects almost half of the nation’s population in the form of arthritis; osteoporosis; back, knee and hip pain; and muscle and ligament injuries.

In many cases, age-related degeneration of the body’s musculoskeletal system is a significant contributing factor in the development of bone and joint disease. This means that, in an aging population, the economic and societal costs of musculoskeletal conditions are steadily rising. Without greater awareness and intervention, these problems can be expected to dramatically increase, leading to even greater costs in terms of health care requirements and lost productivity.

With all of that said, bone and joint disease does not have to be inevitable. Here are some simple steps you can take to help keep your bones and joints healthy:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight – Excess weight, even just a few pounds, can significantly increase the stress on your hard-working joints.
  • Be active – Physical activity can help you maintain your bone density as you age. Additionally, exercise can help you keep your joints limber, control your weight and improve your balance, all of which can help you avoid bone and joint injuries resulting from slips and falls.
  • Eat a nutritious diet – Your bones need sufficient calcium, as well as vitamin D, which helps your body to absorb this essential nutrient. Supplements can be useful, if necessary, but it’s always best to get most of your nutrition from whole food sources.
  • Seek medical attention for bone or joint pain – You needn’t resign yourself to living with discomfort. In fact, many musculoskeletal conditions can be addressed without surgery. Conservative options like physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, pain relievers, hot/cold therapy and joint injections can be very effective. Additionally, in rare cases, bone or joint pain can be a sign of a serious health condition, such as multiple myeloma or osteosarcoma (bone cancer), so it’s always best to get an accurate diagnosis from an experienced medical professional.

Some cancer treatments can also affect the bones and joints. For instance, individuals who receive certain types of hormone therapy have an elevated risk of developing osteoporosis and bone fractures. The experts at Moffitt Cancer Center can provide individualized advice on how to maintain strong bones both during and after cancer treatment.

For further information, you can speak with a cancer expert at Moffitt Cancer Center with or without a referral. Call 1-888-MOFFITT or complete our new patient registration form online.