Let’s go through the impact of physical activity on joint health, various exercise options for arthritis pain relief, and the significance of finding the right balance in your arthritis pain management plan. Learn about precautions, modifications, and the long-term benefits of incorporating exercise into your arthritis pain management plan for improved mobility and overall quality of life.
Arthritis affects a large proportion of US adults. There are over a hundred different kinds of arthritis, some of which are primary symptoms of their own condition, while others are part of a set of symptoms for a health issue with a larger scope, such as an autoimmune disorder. Some types of arthritis are rheumatic, while some are purely mechanical. For many adults, arthritis becomes a normal part of aging in the form of osteoarthritis, or the general wear-and-tear of the joints and surrounding ligaments.
But the severity of arthritis – as well as the rate at which it develops – can often be staved off through conservative, non-invasive treatments. One of these is the most unassuming of all: physical exercise.
Exploring the Viability of Exercise for Arthritis Pain Relief
Medically, arthritis is nothing more than joint pain. Some forms of joint pain are the result of the body attacking its own joints, while others are the result of a lack of tissue or degenerated connective tissue. In some cases, arthritic pain is caused by a buildup in uric acid, creating painful crystals. How does exercise have a bearing on any of these mechanisms of action?
There are multiple ways. First, by strengthening the surrounding supportive structures and taking a load off the joints. Making your muscles stronger and making your body more efficient, or “ergonomic” in its movements, can reduce pain.
Furthermore, regular exercise helps improve your blood flow, improve your pain thresholds, and regularly releases painkilling endorphins that can reduce how much you feel your joints.
Many forms of arthritis are exacerbated by metabolic conditions, from type 2 diabetes to cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Obesity can also make arthritic pain worse by greatly increasing the pressure on the joints. In addition to improving your personal mobility and blood flow, regular exercise helps bring down excess body-fat, and reduce the likelihood of an onset of metabolic disorders.
Precautions and Modifications for Arthritis Exercises
Some people think that arthritis-friendly exercises are few and far between, and that they’ll be stuck doing low-impact cardiovascular training or aerobic programs. That isn’t true. Just as there are hundreds of different kinds of arthritis and a wide variety of severities, there are many different potential training plans that can benefit people with arthritis pain relief requirements.
Your requirements are not static, either. As your fitness improves, so does your capacity for new exercises and tolerances. Regardless of how you’d like to work on your exercise quota, it’s important to do so with a supervising professional.
Working With a Physical Therapist
There is no book of exercises that are strictly better or worse for clients with arthritis. Some common sense does apply – if you haven’t exercised regularly in the past, there would be little sense putting you through a grueling workout with high volume, and heavy resistances. It’s always best to start with a lowered baseline and make progress over time.
Working with a professional can give you the ability to make changes on a session-to-session basis, rather than reviewing your progress periodically with your physician or a distant PT. Consider working with someone who has experience helping clients with arthritis pain relief, or someone who specializes in creating training plans for your form of arthritis.
For many clients, the idea that exercise can help reduce pain – especially when improper or excessive exertion with arthritis can lead to more pain – can seem counterintuitive. We field many questions on the topic of exercise as an arthritis pain relief option, such as:
How often should I exercise if I have arthritis?
As often as you can consistently manage and recover from. Aim for moderate exercise most days of the week, such as 30 minutes of low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or cycling. Remember to be flexible – pain can come and go, and it’s okay to take a few days off or ask your doctor about a change of plans if your current training isn’t going well.
Can some exercises worsen arthritis pain/should I avoid specific exercises? Yes, certain exercises can exacerbate arthritis pain, especially high-impact activities or those that put excessive strain on affected joints. Avoid repetitive movements or exercises that cause discomfort for the time being. If you can consistently make progress, those movements may become viable in the future, but it’s important to listen to your body.
When should I start an exercise routine with arthritis? You can start an exercise routine with arthritis at any time, but it’s crucial to consult your healthcare provider first. They can assess your condition and suggest appropriate exercises. Don’t rely solely on the Internet for training plan ideas – while it’s good to show initiative, it’s best to ask your physician or physiotherapist about a specific training regimen or exercise before beginning on your own. Gradually increase intensity over time, rather than jumping in head first.
Is exercise appropriate for all forms of arthritis/will exercise help improve my pain symptoms? Exercise can be beneficial for many forms of arthritis, but it’s essential to consider individual circumstances. Certain conditions with arthritic symptoms can range in severity, greatly limiting your mobility or opportunity for exercise. It’s important to work with a physical therapist who is aware of your condition and will coordinate with your physician to create a flexible plan for pain management and long-term relief.
If you want to learn more about arthritic pain management and the role that an individualized exercise plan can play in preventing or reducing your pain levels, give us a call at the Pain Management & Injury Relief Medical Center, via (877) 724-6349.
Nearly all forms of arthritis benefit from a healthier and stronger body. Even a little bit of physical activity can go a long way, especially if you’ve been entirely sedentary for an extended period. While it is important to strike a balance between rest and activity, it is equally important to pick and choose an appropriate level of exercise for your condition and circumstances. Working with an experienced pain management clinic or a physical therapist can give you an individualized plan with which to improve your fitness and manage your pain. Get in touch with us at PMIR to find out more about arthritis pain relief.