Managing arthritis pain with low-impact activities
Approximately 23 percent of adult Americans have been diagnosed with arthritis. Arthritis is a broad term to describe the tenderness, swelling, and discomfort of one or more joints in the body. There are over 100 different types, with the two most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid.
Osteoarthritis is caused by damage to cartilage in a joint. Cartilage cushions the ends of bones, and when it is damaged or wears away, the bones can grind upon one another, causing pain, swelling, and decreased range of motion. The damage or deterioration of cartilage can occur gradually with age, or it can happen abruptly after an injury or infection.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body's immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule. This results in inflammation and swelling and the eventual degeneration of cartilage and bone within the joint.
- Anyone can have arthritis, but certain factors might increase your likelihood of developing it.
- Family history: Specific kinds of arthritis are familial, so if an immediate relative has it, you may have similar genes that make you more prone to the factors causing arthritis.
- Age: As people age, their cartilage and bones naturally weaken, which can lead to osteoarthritis.
- Gender: A higher percentage of women suffer from arthritis than men.
- Activity level: The prevalence of arthritis in adults who don't exercise is significantly higher than in adults who meet physical activity guidelines.
The World Health Organization recommends adults aged 18-64 incorporate at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity into their schedules each week.
When your joints hurt, exercising may feel like one of the last things you want to do. While it may seem counter-intuitive, low-impact exercise can actually help manage arthritis. If you suffer from arthritis, consider incorporating these activities into your lifestyle for relief from arthritis symptoms.
Activities for arthritis
Low-impact aerobics, strength training, and stretching can build muscles, prevent stiff joints, increase endurance, help control weight, improve heart and bone health, and give you a boost in mood.
Try these low-impact activities:
- Walking - Taking two 15-minute walks a day, five days a week, can help you meet the WHO physical activity weekly guideline and improve arthritis symptoms.
- Biking - Biking removes direct, pounding force on joints and is a great alternative to walking.
- Swimming - Swimming is an excellent activity for arthritis patients. You can reap the aerobic benefits without the stress on your joints that land activities generate.
- Water workouts - Other water exercises like water aerobics or water Zumba can be fun to rotate into your exercise schedule and allow you to avoid joint strain.
- Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi - All three of these exercises provide strength training, increase flexibility, and promote mindfulness.
If you experience a particularly bad arthritis flare-up, dial back on your exercise activity level for a few days but still remain active. The CDC recommends following the S.M.A.R.T. approach to exercising for people who suffer from arthritis.
- Start low, go slow.
- Modify activity when arthritis symptoms increase, try to stay active.
- Activities should be "joint friendly."
- Recognize safe places and ways to be active.
- Talk to a health professional or certified exercise specialist.
The experienced team of providers at Reid Orthopedics can provide you with expert care in diagnosing, treating, and managing arthritis. If you have been dealing with joint pain, there is no need to continue to suffer. Reid Health can help you return to a more active lifestyle. To schedule an appointment with a Reid Orthopedics provider, call (765) 935-8905.