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Why Exercise Is Essential in Managing Osteoarthritis Pain

Why Exercise Is Essential in Managing Osteoarthritis Pain

Nearly 60 million Americans have been diagnosed with arthritis, and millions more may be suffering from arthritis symptoms even though they haven’t seen a doctor yet. 

While there are more than 100 different types of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is by far the most common type, accounting for well over half of all arthritis diagnoses.

Sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis, OA happens when the layer of cartilage that protects joint surfaces wears away. Typically, OA affects older people after years of activity take their toll on the joints, but it can affect younger people, too — particularly athletes and others who are very active.

With offices in Eugene and Roseburg, Oregon, Pacific Sports and Spine helps patients manage OA with medical treatments and lifestyle guidance aimed at helping them lead healthier, more comfortable, and more active lives. 

In honor of Arthritis Awareness Month, our team is dedicating this post to arthritis care, and specifically how regular exercise can help.

How exercise can help reduce arthritis pain

If your joints are sore, being more active might seem like the last thing you’d want to do. But your joints were designed for movement, and regular use helps relieve painful symptoms in multiple ways.

Strengthens muscles

Your joints rely on strong muscles for added support and to keep the joint components properly aligned. Regular exercise is a good way to strengthen your muscles. Work in different types of exercise to ensure you target all of your muscles.

Relieves inflammation

Regular movement reduces swelling that can exacerbate OA symptoms. When you exercise, your circulation improves, which means your body is able to fight off inflammation and promote healing in the area.

Improves lubrication

OA is associated with increased friction inside the joint, and in turn, increased friction is associated with more pain. Regular exercise helps your joints produce more natural lubricating fluids that can help keep friction under control.

Supports better range of motion

In addition to pain, OA also causes stiffness, which can quickly lead to mobility issues. Exercising helps your body maintain regular movement and flexibility, so you can continue to enjoy a more active lifestyle while also reducing stiffness and the discomfort it can cause.

Prevents depression and anxiety

Many people with chronic pain find themselves feeling depressed and anxious about their symptoms and the limitations they cause. Being active releases feel-good chemicals that help modulate your mood and improve your ability to cope. 

Exercise helps you sleep better, which can also improve your mood.

Supports weight management

If you’re overweight, those extra pounds can take a big toll on your knees, hips, spine, feet, and ankle joints. Regular activity makes it easier to lose extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight, reducing joint strain and the pain it can cause.

Exercise is also a good addition to other arthritis therapies, like interventional pain management therapies and physical therapy.

Choosing the right exercise

We’ve made our point that physical activity is important for combatting OA, but you also need to select the right kind of activity to avoid putting too much strain on your sore joints. Ideally, look for low-impact activities that get you moving without overdoing it.

Taking a daily walk allows you to enjoy the benefits of regular exercise while also getting some fresh air and sunshine, two factors that can help ward off depression or anxiety. 

Invest in a good pair of shoes with proper support and cushioning to relieve strain on your knees, ankles, and hips and keep your spine in proper alignment.

Tai chi, yoga, swimming, and dancing can also be good choices, and so can biking, as long as you don’t have severe knee OA

Regular chores count, too, like gardening or cleaning the garage. As with any type of physical activity, don’t overdo it, take regular breaks, and stop when your joints start to get sore or you feel fatigued.

Make joint health a priority

Osteoarthritis is a progressive joint disease, which means it typically becomes worse over time. Getting regular exercise is one way to slow that progression while improving your overall health.

To learn other ways to relieve OA pain and how we can help, book an appointment over the phone today with our team at Pacific Sports and Spine in Eugene and Roseburg, Oregon.

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