Living with Arthritis: Grip without the Gripe

According to the Arthritis Foundation people with Osteoarthritis can and should be exercising. The benefits outweigh the risks if you are smart about it.  Multiple studies show that 30-45 min of mild to moderate low impact exercise done 3 to 4 times per week helps to improve and maintain the flexibility and motion in our joints.  Light to moderate intensity exercise actually has a protective effect on joint cartilage. Higher impact activities don’t necessarily need to be avoided but just done less frequently, with appropriate shoe wear, and avoiding harder surfaces.

How is Osteoarthritis treated?  American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) states, the best way to treat Osteoarthritis is early intervention through a well-designed exercise program by a health professional.  Your Physical Therapist is the ideal exercise and movement specialist to set up an exercise routine for you. The AOSSM along with the Arthritis Foundation and the American Physical Therapy Association recommend an exercise regime that includes the following components:

  • Range of motion or flexibility exercises. Gentle stretching and movement exercises keep the joints lubricated and muscles flexible.
  • Strengthening exercises. Improving muscle strength helps to protect and support our joints. Strengthening can be done on land or in the water. 
  • Aerobic or endurance exercises. Walking, bicycling and swimming help to improve stamina and lessen fatigue while also burning calories which help to reduce weight that can stress our joints.

Who is at Risk?

  • Older population. Risk increases as we age.
  • Women more than men, though it isn’t clear why.
  • Obesity. Being overweight adds extra stress to our hips and knees but also fat tissue has been shown to produce proteins that causes joint inflammation.  
  • Previous joint injuries from sports, accidents, even injuries that happened years ago add risk as we get older.
  • Genetics. There is a tendency to develop osteoarthritis if we have other family members who have it.
  • Certain occupations that put repetitive stress on our joints may lead to joint injury later in life.
  • Bone deformities. If you are born with defective cartilage or malformed joints this will put you at risk as you get older.

Osteoarthritis is a progressive degenerative disease. It comes on slowly but once symptomatic can be quite painful, can severely limit your daily activities, and prevent you from doing the things you love to do.  The key to prevention is early intervention. Early intervention means maintaining an active lifestyle. Ask your Physical Therapist about designing an exercise program that fits your needs, wants and lifestyle. Remember, it’s never too late to start protecting your joints!  

For more information please contact IPT at 619-260-0750 or speak with your IPT Therapist at your next visit!

Stay tuned for our video email on exercises specifically designed for osteoarthritis.