Pomerene Hospital Blog
Treating Arthritis Pain with Lifestyle Changes
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the Unites States, above heart and lung disease, and diabetes. Fifty million Americans are affected by this condition. Arthritis accounts for 44 million doctor visits and over 900,000 hospitalizations each year. Conservative estimates suggest there will be 67 million Americans with arthritis by the year 2030. One common myth is that it only affects the elderly. The truth is that 2/3 of people with arthritis are under 65 years of age. Of these, approximately 300,000 are children.
There are many types of arthritis with various causes. The common thread among all of them is inflammation. This is the cause of pain in all types of arthritis. The pharmaceutical industry has capitalized on our desire to get rid of the pain. Unfortunately the medication does not last. Proper management of arthritis pain is exercise and achieving and maintaining an ideal body weight.
While in pain, the thought of exercise may seem overwhelming, but initiating exercise has short and long term benefits for controlling arthritis pain. Moving your body will loosen stiff joints. Exercise will provide healing by increasing blood flow to affected joints and will strengthen arthritic joints which have been made weak by inflammation and pain. This is the long term management of arthritis pain. Exercise can reverse much of the pain associated with arthritis.
Check out these 5 suggested exercises for arthritis joint pain relief:
How it helps: Walking strengthens muscles, which helps shift pressure from the joints, and reduces pain. It also compresses and releases cartilage in your knees, bringing nourishing oxygen to your joints.
2. Water Exercise
How it helps: Warm water – between 83˚ F and 90˚ F – helps relax your muscles and decrease pain, according to the University of Washington Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.
So exercises like swimming and aerobics, walking and jogging in water are good for stiff, sore joints. Water also supports your body as you move, which reduces stress on the hips, knees and spine, and offers resistance without weights.
3. Indoor Cycling
How it helps: “Indoor cycling is an excellent way to get a cardiovascular workout without stressing weight-bearing joints,” says
Matthew Goodemote, head physical therapist at Community Physical Therapy & Wellness in Gloversville, N.Y.
A stationary bike is also a good option for people with balance problems – common among inactive arthritis patients – because there’s no need to lean the bike to turn.
How it helps: Beginner yoga classes’ simple, gentle movements gradually build strength, balance and flexibility – “all elements that may be especially beneficial for people with arthritis,” says Steffany Haaz, MFA, a certified movement analyst, registered yoga teacher and research coordinator with the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center.
It also reduces inflammation, according to a 2010 Ohio State University study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.
5. Tai Chi
How it helps: A traditional style of Chinese martial arts that goes back centuries, tai chi features slow, rhythmic movements to induce mental relaxation and enhance balance, strength and flexibility.
When you decide you have had enough pain and medication, making lifestyle changes may improve your condition. You CAN make this happen.
Blog written by John Vaccariello, MD- Family physician and Medical Director of Pomerene Kinetics