Arthritis and Exercise | Total Performance Physical Therapy

Arthritis and Exercise

January 4, 2012

For years the misconception has been that if you have arthritis you should not exercise, you don’t want to make the pain worse.  Research though has proven that this is not the case and in fact exercise may help reduce the signs and symptoms that you feel with arthritis.

Arthritis, in its most simple definition is inflammation of the joint.  There is no cure currently for arthritis and most people inflicted with it wind up eventually having joint replacements.  However, not all of the pain felt with arthritis can be contributed to just the inflammation in the joint.  What most often happens is that there is compensation with muscles surrounding the joint and it is the lengthening and shortening of these muscles that contributes to the considerable amount of pain that you feel.

Have you ever wondered why only one joint needs replaced?  I often hear from people that they stood on concrete their whole life and now they need a knee joint replacement.  Why does only one of the knees need replaced?  Was the other knee standing on carpet?  If it just standing on concrete then shouldn’t both knees need to be replaced at the same time?  The difference is is that one knee is using muscles to compensate differently than the other knee.  This in turn pulls on the joint allowing for quicker breakdown of the cartilage on one side than another.

Stretching and strengthening your muscles will allow for them to pull equally on the joint and allow for minimal degeneration.  Joints and muscles need movement to keep them lubricated.  Movement allows for fluid to naturally enter the joint and will therefore reduce the pain.  Therefore somedays moving can actually help reduce the pain rather than make it worse.

I am also often asked what are exercises that can be done to help with arthritis.  I wish I could answer this.  I wish I could give you the 6 secret exercises to help your arthritis pain feel better.  I would have written a book by now and been a millionaire!  The truth though is that everyone is different and different muscles are weak on different people allowing for making up a generic exercise program impossible.  The truth is if you are suffering from arthritis then you should seek out a physical therapist to help instruct you in the correct exercises.  The fact of the matter is you could actually do more harm then good if you start exercising without the supervision of a physical therapist.  Most people do exercises that strengthen muscles that are already strong and this will allow for even more uneven pull on the joint, causing increased pain.

Physical therapy can have a very positive impact on arthritis.  By understanding how your joints function and how diminishing the strain on them will help reduce arthritis symptoms is crucial in extending the life of your joints.  Physical therapy can help to life a more full, healthy and pain free life.  For more information on physical therapy visit www.totalperformancept.com.

So with the new year upon us and most of us making New Year’s resolutions to exercise, make it your resolution to exercise and help your arthritis pain!

Call Total Performance Physical Therapy today to schedule your appointment!