Role Of Exercise In Arthritis Management
by Susan Bartlett, Ph.D.
The physiological benefits of exercise are well documented and include reduced risks of:
- coronary artery disease
- colon cancer
Physical activity is essential to optimizing both physical and mental health and can play a vital role in the management of arthritis. Regular physical activity can keep the muscles around affected joints strong, decrease bone loss and may help control joint swelling and pain. Regular activity replenishes lubrication to the cartilage of the joint and reduces stiffness and pain. Exercise also helps to enhance energy and stamina by decreasing fatigue and improving sleep. Exercise can enhance weight loss and promote long-term weight management in those with arthritis who are overweight.
Exercise may offer additional benefits to improving or modifying arthritis. As Dr. Steven Blair, Exercise Epidemiologist and Director of Epidemiology at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas TX notes Skeletal muscle is the largest organ in the body and is intricately tied with protein turnover and synthesis and many other metabolic and biochemical functions. Activating skeletal muscle has many important health benefits we are only beginning to understand.
Shoulder Arthritis Due To Avascular Necrosis
Avascular necrosis refers to the disrupted blood supply to an area of the body, which results in that area dying . In the shoulder, the humeral head may lose blood supply due to disease, traumatic injuries, and other causes. Without a blood supply, the bone will slowly collapse, becoming uneven and causing arthritis.
How Exercise Can Improve Mood Disorders
Regular aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety by making your brains fight or flight system less reactive. When anxious people are exposed to physiological changes they fear, such as a rapid heartbeat, through regular aerobic exercise, they can develop a tolerance for such symptoms.
Regular exercise such as cycling or gym-based aerobic, resistance, flexibility, and balance exercises can also reduce depressive symptoms. Exercise can be as effective as medication and psychotherapies. Regular exercise may boost mood by increasing a brain protein called BDNF that helps nerve fibers grow.
For people with attention-deficit disorder , another study showed that a single 20-minute bout of moderate-intensity cycling briefly improved their symptoms. It enhanced the participants motivation for tasks requiring focused thought, increased their energy, and reduced their feelings of confusion, fatigue, and depression. However, in this study, exercise had no effect on attention or hyperactivity per se.
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Forget The No Pain No Gain Concept
This old-school coach advice may work for hardcore athletes, but its not appropriate for someone with arthritis, Calabrese says. If you try an exercise and it causes your condition to flare up, stop doing it. Then be open and honest with your doctor and physical therapist about what causes your pain. Sometimes a simple correction in form or an alternative exercise will do the trick.
In other words, respect your pain but also respect your arthritis, he adds. If you exercise properly, you can improve both. But remember, not exercising at all can have even more detrimental effects on your arthritis and your health. Any way you can get moving youll want make sure you do your best to make that happen. But a scheduled, routine workout that follows all of these guidelines is always recommended.
Best Exercises For Arthritis
Exercising regularly is one of the healthiest ways to reduce arthritis symptoms since exercise increases muscle and bone strength to naturally reduce joint pain. However, joint pain, reduced range of motion, and fatigue are just some of the symptoms of arthritis that can make exercise seem difficult, painful, and counterproductive for your condition. Lack of physical activity can weaken the muscles supporting your joints to cause worsened stress, pain, and stiffness. Fortunately, exercise offers countless benefits for those who suffer from arthritis including improved balance, flexibility, endurance, and energy.
Here are 5 exercises for arthritis that can help improve your symptoms while also enhancing your overall quality of life.
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Stay Active When You Can
On the whole, the answer is “keep moving.” Your joints were made to move. They need movement to nourish the joint and keep the muscles around the joint strong and limber. Doctors encourage their patients with arthritis to be as active as they canas long as it isn’t exacerbating joint pain.
The benefits of staying active are numerous. Exercise can:
- Control joint pain and swelling
- Help you rehabilitate after a procedure or a flare-up
- Slow the deterioration of arthritic joints
- Improve mood and sleep
- Help manage other chronic conditions that are common for people with arthritis, such as diabetes and heart disease
People with arthritis should aim for 30 minutes of low-impact aerobic activity on most days, strength training activity twice a week, and balance exercises 3 times a week, if your arthritis puts you at higher risk of falling.
Hand And Wrist Motions
Our muscles and tendons move joints through arcs of motion such as bending the fingers. Arthritis can impair mobility in the hands and wrists, making everyday tasks difficult or impossible. Therapists recommend hand and wrist exercises to help stretch muscles and tendons, increase range of motion, and improve endurance.Place a rolled towel on the edge of a table and place your wrist on it so that your hand hangs off the table edge. Move your hand up until you feel a slight stretch. Return to your starting position. Repeat the motions with your elbow at your side and palm facing up. Hold each position for five to ten seconds. Complete ten repetitions, then switch to the other hand. Perform three sets of ten movements per side, each day.
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How Does Shoulder Arthritis Develop
Shoulder arthritis usually results from gradual wear and tear of the cartilage. Cartilage is present in every joint in the body it covers the surface of the bones inside the joints similar to Teflon on a ball bearing. Cartilage is a living tissue 2 millimeters to 3 millimeters thick about the thickness of one or two layers of cardboard. This makes the contact between bones softer. If the cartilage is intact, it can take multiple rotations with no wear of the surface because its smooth.
Shoulder arthritis typically develops in stages. First the cartilage gets soft , then it develops cracks in the surface , then it begins to fibrillate , and finally it wears away to expose the surface of the bone . As a result, it loses its ability to act as a smooth, gliding surface.
The cartilage doesnt wear away all at once over the entire surface of the bone in a joint. Instead, it wears at different rates in different parts. So if you consider the surface of a ball bearing that was covered with Teflon, this type of wear would be as if the Teflon had pits and the surface would now be irregular .
Once the surface becomes irregular, the cartilage may undergo further damage. It may begin to thin out, eventually leading to the bones of the shoulder rubbing against each other . Many people think that arthritis is bone-on-bone traction in the joint, but in reality arthritis is the process that can lead to the bone-on-bone traction.
What You Need To Know
- Arthritis is damage to the cartilage in joints. Shoulder arthritis occurs when the cartilage starts wearing down on the ball and/or socket sides of the shoulder joint.
- Symptoms of shoulder arthritis may include pain in the shoulder joint, stiffness and reduced range of motion.
- There are many nonoperative treatments for shoulder arthritis, including stretches, lifestyle modifications, application of ice or heat, and medication to control the pain.
- Surgical options, such as shoulder replacement, are available to treat shoulder arthritis if nonoperative treatments dont offer the desired relief.
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Think You Shouldnt Exercise Because It Could Make Your Arthritis Symptoms Worse Most Of The Time Thats Just Not The Case
Exercise is a mainstay part of managing arthritis. This is true whether you have osteoarthritis, a kind of wear-and-tear on your joints, or inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid or psoriatic, which occurs because your immune system is attacking your joints and causing systemic inflammation.
But a majority of arthritis patients said they have not increased the amount they exercise since being diagnosed, according to the results of our latest ArthritisPower Community Poll. We asked people if theyve started exercising more after being diagnosed with arthritis out of 640 respondents, 59 percent said no. Only 41 percent said yes.
Now, there are many reasons people with different kinds of arthritis may avoid exercising or increasing their physical activity levels, but its important to debunk and clarify a myth behind one of the big ones: the belief that exercise can exacerbate or worsen your disease.
One of the biggest misconceptions about arthritis and exercise is people think, Well, its not good for me, says exercise physiologist Lynn Millar, PT, PhD, FACSM, department chair of physical therapy at Winston-Salem State University. I like to harp on the fact that exercise is one of the key treatments for arthritis. It will not make it worse. It will make it better.
But the most important thing is understanding that exercise, even if its very gentle and low-key, should be part of your arthritis treatment along with the medications you take to manage your disease.
How Does Arthritis Affect The Body
Arthritis is a common condition that affects the joints and tissues in the body. It can be caused by injury, infection, or overuse. The pain from arthritis can interfere with daily activities such as walking upstairs or holding objects for an extended period. This article will explore how arthritis affects different parts of the body.
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Why Should I Also Do Strengthening Exercises
Strong muscles help keep weak joints stable and comfortable and protect them against further damage. A program of strengthening exercises that targets specific muscle groups can be helpful as part of your arthritis treatment.
There are several types of strengthening exercises that, when performed properly, can maintain or increase muscle tissue to support your muscles without aggravating your joints.
Some people with arthritis avoid exercise because of joint pain. However, a group of exercises called “isometrics” will help strengthen muscles without bending painful joints. Isometrics involve no joint movement but rather strengthen muscle groups by using an alternating series of isolated muscle flexes and periods of relaxation.
Isotonics is another group of exercises that involve joint mobility. However, this group of exercises is more intensive, achieving strength development through increased repetitions or by introducing increasing weight resistance such as with with small dumbbells or stretch bands.
A physical therapist or fitness instructor can tell you how to safely and effectively perform isometric and isotonic exercises.
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The time-tested formula has more than 150 years of history to its credit, which boasts a pleasant texture and efficient pain relief on hands, feet, and other achy areas. Arnica creates an instant cooling sensation, while hemp oil targets inflammation and cannabinoid receptors. Its clear and has almost no odor.
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Benefits Of Exercise For Osteoarthritis
Get exercise tips for arthritis and learn why physical activity is the best, non-drug treatment for improving pain and function in OA.
While you may worry that exercising with osteoarthritis could harm your joints and cause more pain, research shows that people can and should exercise when they have osteoarthritis. In fact, exercise is considered the most effective, non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in patients with osteoarthritis.
What Exercises Work Best for Osteoarthritis?Each of the following types of exercises plays a role in maintaining and improving the ability to move and function. Walking and aquatic exercises are particularly good for most people with osteoarthritis.
Exercises for Osteoarthritis
Range of motion or flexibility exercises
Range of motion refers to the ability to move your joints through the full motion they were designed to achieve. These exercises include gentle stretching and movements that take joints through their full span. Doing these exercises regularly can help maintain and improve the flexibility in the joints.
These exercises strengthen the heart and make the lungs more efficient. Aerobic exercise also reduces fatigue and builds stamina, while helping control weight by increasing the number of calories the body uses. Examples of this type of exercise includes walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming or using the elliptical machine.
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Find Relief From Arthritis Symptoms
Talk to your doctor about the types of exercises most ideal for your arthritis symptoms and overall health. Your doctor can help you develop a personalized exercise plan, so you can benefit from the reduced risk of injury and improved arthritis symptoms.Healthcare Associates of Texas offers specialized care for arthritis, so you can get back to performing everyday activities with reduced joint pain and stiffness. Request an appointment today to learn more about our treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and many other health conditions.
How Does Arthritis Affect More Than Joints
The following is an overview of how arthritis impacts various parts of the human body:
Arthritis can cause inflammation in the spine and joints of the neck leading to muscle spasms, difficulty sleeping due to chronic pain, or even sleep paralysis because arthritis interferes with getting a good nights sleep.
The cartilage that protects your spinal discs wears away over time from arthritis, causing back stiffness, making it difficult for some people with arthritis to bend down at waist height without experiencing an increase in joint discomfort.
Arthritis may also affect tendons, leading to cramping muscles, so using a cane would be necessary during activities such as walking upstairs or holding objects for long periods.
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How Exercises Help Arthritis
Lack of movement will lead to further stiffness and weakness. Specific benefits of exercise for arthritis include the following:
- Increased blood flow to boost healing power
- Pain relief by promoting better perfusion of synovial fluid
- Build and preserve hand function long term
- Reduced risk of complications and progression of osteoarthritis
- Fewer long term complications related to loss of hand use
- Improved muscle balance for fine motor skills and coordination
- Increased finger and wrist flexibility and range of motion
Is Vitamin B12 Good For Arthritis
Vitamin B complex is a type of non-antioxidant vitamin. We don’t fully understand how this type of vitamin may treat arthritis-related conditions, but evidence from trials suggests that vitamins B3, B9 and B12 might be of some benefit for treating osteoarthritis, particularly in improving joint mobility and hand grip.
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Arthritis And Water Exercise
Warm water exercise is particularly helpful if you have arthritis or another musculoskeletal condition, because your body is supported and the resistance provided by moving through water builds muscle strength and endurance.
Water exercise involves exercising in a pool, usually heated, and may also be called hydrotherapy. There are several ways you can exercise in water. The most suitable type of water exercise for you depends on a number of factors such as:
- the type of arthritis you have
- how your arthritis affects you
- your fitness level
- your confidence in the water
- your personal preferences and interests.
The types of water exercise available include:
- hydrotherapy a type of exercise therapy offered by physiotherapists as one-on-one sessions for individuals, or in small groups. Exercises are specific to your condition, injury or situation
- gentle water exercise classes some fitness or recreation centres offer gentle water exercise programs suitable for older adults or people with health conditions such as arthritis. All participants follow the same general exercises in a fun, group environment
- swimming laps at your local pool can also help.
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