"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

How exercise may help relieve joint pain from osteoarthritis

March 12, 2024 – Walking hurt. So Dianne Rosenbluth visited a surgeon really useful by friends at Duke University School of Medicine, had an X-ray and discovered she had osteoarthritis.

Rosenbluth's pain disappeared after a hip substitute, but she struggled to regain her stamina. She knew she needed to “keep going and keep moving” to get well, even after a second hip substitute about 10 years ago. When Duke Health & Fitness Center opened in nearby Durham, N.C., the actual estate agent, entrepreneur and former teacher signed up.

Rosenbluth, now 81, receives regular steroid injections in her knees to treat her joint pain and is scheduled to undergo knee surgery this summer. “As long as I can take care of things with good medical advice, that’s a privilege,” Rosenbluth said.

Sport helped her loosen up arthrosis Relieves pain and improves mobility. “It's about setting goals for myself.” To maintain her routine, Rosenbluth sets out workout clothes the night before. “So if I see the clothes and I don’t exercise, I feel guilty all day.”

It may sound counterintuitive at first – it suggests that folks with joint pain generally exercise and exercise more. But experts agree with Rosenbluth that physical activity can alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

“Someone with joint pain is often worried that exercise will make their pain worse and they are hesitant to engage in physical activity,” said Leigh F. Callahan, PhD, associate director of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center on the University of North Carolina. Chapel Hill.

There's loads of evidence from medical studies that a “moderate approach” to exercise may help, noted Callahan, who can also be director of the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance. For example, inactive people should start with a low-intensity activity like walking and slowly increase their distance over time.

The potential advantages transcend relieving joint pain. There are several well-conducted studies showing that physical activity and exercise improve a variety of arthritis and joint-related symptoms, including pain, stiffness, swelling and the power to perform activities of each day living, Callahan said. “In addition to improving arthritis symptoms, exercise and physical activity provide mental health benefits and improve overall quality of life.”

“It may seem surprising, but gentle exercise is actually a great way to relieve osteoarthritis pain,” said Nick Turkas, senior director of patient education on the Arthritis Foundation. Regular exercise keeps joints flexible, prevents stiffness, and increases an individual's range of motion. he said.

The 2 hour rule

Like anyone starting a brand new exercise routine, you need to first seek the advice of your doctor and begin slowly, recommends Callahan.

“No pain, no gain” doesn't apply to exercise for individuals with osteoarthritis. Exercise needs to be difficult but not cause severe pain, Turkas said. “We have a 2-hour pain rule. If your pain gets worse 2 hours after exercise, reduce it next time.”

People might experience pain or discomfort in the event that they were inactive before starting exercise, Callahan said. “However, stabbing pain, pain in a new area, and pain that lasts longer than two hours after exercise “are some of the signs that they are overdoing it.” [it] or something is fallacious.”

Common misunderstandings

Turkas has dispelled some common myths about osteoarthritis and exercise. For example, individuals with joint pain could also be hesitant to extend their physical activity because they fear that exercise will only make their pain worse. “This is concerning,” he said, “but gentle exercise has actually been shown to reduce pain and stiffness in the long term.”

Another misconception is that folks can't exercise because they're too stiff. Turkas really useful that folks concentrate on their range of motion and begin with small movements and increase them over time.

And no, exercise is not going to “wear out” a joint, he noted. Our joints are not machines. Exercise strengthens joints – stronger muscles, tendons and ligaments support proper joint alignment for efficient movement and stability.”

Fluidity and adaptability

One of the important thing aspects for more flexibility is Synovial fluid, a thick fluid within the knees, hips, and other joints that keeps them supple. Healthy joint cartilage acts like a sponge, Turkas said, absorbing synovial fluid for smooth movement.

In addition to creating more synovial fluid across the joints, exercise can improve nutrient circulation within the joints, reduce inflammation, and increase blood flow to the joints. Exercise “also promotes weight loss, which is helpful for joint pain and improves balance and coordination,” Callahan said.

Physical activity can even strengthen the muscles across the joints. Strong muscles across the joint act like natural braces, relieving stress on the joint itself, Turkas said. “Exercise strengthens these muscles – improving stability and potentially reducing pain.”

When you need to seek special treatment

It is very important to know when to treat osteoarthritis joint pain at home and when to hunt specialized treatment. “If you experience joint pain for more than two weeks, it is important to consult a doctor to discuss the best course of action,” Turkas said. Specialists can determine whether arthritis is causing your symptoms and might allow you to diagnose your specific form. There are greater than 100 types of arthritis and an accurate diagnosis is the important thing to one of the best treatment, he said.

Callahan really useful arthritis-appropriate evidence-based interventions (AAEBIs) for individuals who need to learn more about exercise. There are 14 AAEBI exercise programs. The Arthritis Foundation offers a “Walk with ease” Program that guides people through appropriate steps for goal setting, warming up, walking, cooling down and stretching.

The Osteoarthritis Action Alliance and the CDC recognize these AAEBIs because they increase physical activity and improve arthritis symptoms. Many are offered each virtually and in person in community settings.

Still wondering tips on how to start? The Osteoarthritis Action Alliance also offers guidance on tips on how to help individuals with joint pain Think about getting started physical activity.

As for Rosenbluth: “I have to keep going,” she said. “If I keep moving and build my endurance, I can achieve more.”