It may seem like an oxymoron to recommend moving when it hurts to move. But osteoarthritis (OA), a degenerative joint disease that results in inflammation and wear-and-tear of joints, can get worse if you don’t exercise.
Osteoarthritis affects over 32 million adults, mostly those over 60, and often impacts your hands, hips, and knees. Not exercising puts more pressure on your joints, which is one of the reasons you should exercise if you have OA. But always consult with your doctor before you embark on an exercise program.
At Orange Orthopaedic Associates, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon James M. Lee Jr., MD, and our team have extensive experience treating patients with osteoarthritis. Here’s what you need to know about this condition and how exercise can help.
What causes osteoarthritis?
Arthritis, which means inflammation of one or more joints, is a group of conditions that affect the joints and tissues around the joint as well as other connective tissues. OA is the most common form of arthritis.
OA is the wearing away of the cartilage within the joints gradually over time. Eventually, the bones begin to rub against each other, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling. In some cases, it can lead to the inability to walk and do daily activities. In fact, OA is the leading cause of disability in the United States.
How exercise can reduce osteoarthritis symptoms
There’s no cure for osteoarthritis, but there are many ways you can reduce and manage your symptoms so that you can return to an active lifestyle. Some treatments include pain relievers, physical therapy, and weight loss, if you’re overweight.
One of the best ways to manage your OA and prevent you from becoming inactive is to increase your physical activity. Exercise can help your osteoarthritis symptoms in the following ways.
Strengthen muscles around your joints
If you do exercises to strengthen the muscles around your knees or hips, for example, it puts less pressure on your joints. These joints carry the majority of your body weight, so having strong muscles around them can put more support on your muscles and less on the joints.
Improve range of motion, flexibility, and balance
Limited range of motion and reduced flexibility are common osteoarthritis symptoms. Exercise helps get blood to your muscles and ligaments, which makes them warm and more flexible.
Exercise helps you sleep better at night. Poor sleep can interfere with your mood, energy levels, and your motivation to exercise. A good night’s sleep is also integral to overall health.
Help with weight management
Excess weight is a common cause of osteoarthritis because it places added stress on the knees, hips, and spine. A regular exercise routine is essential for weight loss and weight management.
If you’re experiencing joint pain, call for an appointment with Dr. Lee at our West Orange, Bayonne, or Tenafly, New Jersey, office to get relief. You can also make an appointment online through this website.