Physical exercise can be challenging for patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). For adults who have a long history of a sedentary lifestyle, commencing a planned exercise routine can be particularly frustrating. However, the importance of including exercise as a part of an overall arthritis management plan has been clearly demonstrated, per a Journal of Aging Research article. (Since the Arthritis Foundation reports that arthritis affects at least one in four adults, taking your arthritis pain seriously by obtaining early treatment is advisable.)
At Tristate Pain Institute, we utilize a wide variety of therapeutic modalities to treat pain resulting from diverse health conditions (including arthritis pain).
NSAIDs as an Exercise Program Aid
Prescribed or over-the-counter (OTC) nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often taken by people diagnosed with arthritis before embarking on exercise. This is because NSAIDs reduce inflammation that can contribute to joint pain in arthritic adults. Ten percent of men (and 13 percent of women) aged 60 and older in the US experience symptomatic knee and hip arthritis (according to an article in Clinics in Geriatric Medicine). This can make walking and bicycling difficult.
While NSAIDs (e.g.,Ibuprofen) can enable performance of prescribed physical therapy exercises by a physical therapist, ingesting NSAIDs for a lengthy period of time can result in kidney damage.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Recommended Exercises
Around 1.3 million adults in the US are afflicted with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), and this autoimmune disorder can limit undertaking any exercise routine without pain. If you have RA, exercising at least 3-4 times each week is important to preserve joint movement. Otherwise, joints (such as shoulder, knee, or hip joints) can become stiff and even more painful. The following are three gentle forms of exercise recommended for people with RA and/or older-aged adults:
- Tai Chi
- Qi Gong
- Water aerobics
Knee Osteoarthritis (OA) and Jogging
Worn-down jogging shoes (and poorly-fitting footwear) can contribute to knee and ankle pain in people with early arthritis symptoms upon jogging. Furthermore, knee and ankle joint OA is worsened by repetitive stress injuries, as can occur through jogging in footwear without proper cushioning. A medical research article in 2017 in PNAS notes that knee OA exists in at least 19 percent of the US population over 45 years of age (and the pain from knee OA can severely limit both jogging and walking).
Therefore, obtaining treatment (such as corticosteroid shots or minimally-invasive surgery) can potentially enable a resumption of enjoyed physical activities. The physicians at Tristate Pain Institute can provide medication or minimally-invasive surgery to decrease your OA (or RA) knee pain. In this way, it may be possible for you to return to your preferred outdoor fitness activities.
Gentle Exercises – Benefits for Arthritis Patients
Chronic pressure on arthritic joints can worsen the arthritis (and resulting arthritic pain). Consequently, participating in a weight loss program is typically recommended for arthritis patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) in the clinically-obese range. The primary feature of arthritic changes in the spine is decreased cartilage cushioning the vertebrae, which can result in nerve impingement (e.g.,a “pinched” sciatic nerve).
If you have mild-to-moderate OA changes in the spine causing slight pain, gentle exercises (such as yoga stretches) are preferable to attempting a more rigorous work-out (e.g.,bicycling or walking) so as not to cause further nerve impingement.
In this way, muscle strength and flexibility may be improved in your back without further injuring it – and fostering your avoidanceof exercise resumption based on the expectation of a painful experience. (Essentially, gentle stretching can result in a reduced likelihood of an injury due to exercise.)
Why a Multifaceted Pain Management Plan is Best
Medications and surgery may decrease your arthritis pain. However – without incorporating regular exercise into your normal routine – your muscle strength and flexibility will decrease over time. Tristate Pain Institute (with facilities in Arizona, Nevada, and California) can aid you in developing a comprehensive pain management plan.
If you are suffering from arthritis or other pain symptoms, please do not hesitate to call us. Located in Fort Mohave, we serve patients in Arizona, Nevada, and California. Dr. Benjamin Venger, our pain management expert, is here to help. Call us now at (928) 788-3333 or request an appointment online and don’t live another day with chronic pain!
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.