Exercise tips for arthritis patients


People with arthritis experience joint pain. However, using that as an excuse to avoid exercising is a very common mistake.

The word ‘arthritis’ literally means joint inflammation.

This condition may cause pain, stiffness and swelling in joints and other supporting structures. Some types of arthritis are a result of connective tissue degeneration while others are described as autoimmune diseases. There are many types of arthritis – such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing, spondylitis, gout.

Should patients of arthritis exercise?

Yes. Exercise reduces joint pain, increases flexibility and bone strength and improves cardiovascular fitness. It also helps with weight reduction and contributes to an improved sense of well-being.

Don’t get into a vicious cycle of inactivity.

The most common mistake is avoidance of exercise. This, over time, leads to more stiffness, reduced strength and compromised cardiovascular fitness. Inactivity further weakens the body, leading to a vicious cycle that accelerates de-conditioning of the body.

How is it treated?

Treatment has to be tailored to individual needs, lifestyle and health.It has four main goals.

1.To control pain through prescribed medicines and other therapies.
2.To improve joint care through rest and gentle exercise.
3. To maintain an acceptable body weight.
4. To achieve a healthy lifestyle.

Exercise modifications

The American College of Sports Medicine has outlined several modifications for exercise for those with arthritis.

– Begin slowly and progress gradually.The hallmark of a safe exercise program is gradual progression in exercise intensity, complexity of movements and duration.

– Avoid rapid or repetitive movements of affected joints

– Special emphasis should be placed on joint protection strategies and avoidance of activities that require rapid repetitions. For example faster walking speeds increase joint stress.

– Adapt physical activity to the needs of the individual

Affected joints may be unstable and restricted in range of motion by pain, stiffness, swelling, bone changes or fibrosis. These joints are at higher risk for injury; care must be taken to ensure that appropriate joint protection measures are in place.

Simple self-help measures
– Carrying extra body weight puts added pressure on the joints. So get on a healthy diet to lose those extra pounds.
– Get the right kind of footwear.Well-fitting supportive shoes increases comfort and safety while walking.
– Learn to listen to the body’s signals. Know when to stop or slow down movement. Pain can increase by over-use or oversight.

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