Exercise regimens for people with arthritis should always be discussed with a healthcare physician. The amount and type of exercise prescribed for each individual will vary based on the following factors: the number of joints affected, the level of inflammation, the stability of the joints, and whether or not a joint replacement treatment has been performed.
Working with a physical therapist who is also familiar with the needs of individuals with arthritis, a professional healthcare practitioner who is aware of the medical and rehabilitation needs of people with arthritis may build an actionable plan for each patient.
Exercise has been demonstrated in studies to benefit persons with arthritis in a variety of ways. Exercise relieves joint pain and stiffness while increasing flexibility, muscle strength, cardiovascular fitness, and endurance. It also aids in weight loss and leads to a better sense of well-being.
Exercise is one component of a well-rounded arthritis treatment approach. Treatment approaches may also include rest and relaxation, a healthy diet, and medication.
Treatment may also involve teaching on how to utilize joints properly, energy conservation techniques, and other pain management measures.
Range-of-motion activities (for example, dancing) aid in the maintenance of normal joint mobility and the relief of stiffness. This sort of exercise aids in the maintenance or improvement of flexibility. Strengthening activities (for example, weight training) assist to maintain or develop muscular strength. Muscles that are strong help to support and protect joints that are arthritic. Aerobic or endurance exercise (for example, bicycle riding) improves cardiovascular health, weight control, and general function.
Weight management is critical for patients with arthritis because excess weight puts extra strain on several joints.
Aerobic exercise has been shown in some trials to lessen inflammation in some joints. Exercise programs for those with physical impairments are available at the majority of health clubs and community centers.
Exercise choices for people with arthritis should be discussed with their doctors and other healthcare experts. Most doctors advise their patients to engage in some form of physical activity.
Many arthritis patients begin with simple range-of-motion exercises and low-impact aerobics. People with arthritis can engage in a number of sports and fitness regimens, but not all. Your healthcare provider will be able to tell you which sports if any, are off-limits.
Your healthcare physician may offer advice on how to get started or recommend you to a physical therapist. It is preferable to choose a physical therapist who has expertise working with arthritis patients. The physical therapist will create an appropriate home exercise program and teach clients about pain-relief techniques, optimal body mechanics (body positioning for a specific job), joint preservation, and conservation of energy.
How to Get Started: Talk to your doctor about your workout intentions. Begin under the guidance of a physical therapist or certified sports trainer. – Apply heat to aching joints (optional; many people with arthritis start their exercise program this way).
Take into account proper leisure exercise (after doing range-of-motion, strengthening, and aerobic exercise). Recreational activity causes less injury to arthritis-affected joints if it is preceded by range-of-motion, strengthening, and cardiovascular exercise that gets your body in the best shape possible.
Are Researchers Studying Arthritis and Exercise?
Exercise aids people with rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthropathies, lupus, and fibromyalgia, according to researchers. Researchers are also looking at the advantages of exercise in elderly people.
Arthritis comes in a variety of forms. Exercises that are especially beneficial for a particular form of arthritis can be prescribed by: healthcare professionals with extensive expertise, physiotherapists, OTs (Occupational Therapists). Healthcare experts and therapists are also aware of specialized workouts for aching joints.
Exercises may be prohibited for those suffering from a certain kind of arthritis or when joints are swollen and inflamed. People who have arthritis should talk to their doctor about their activity goals. Rheumatologists, orthopedic surgeons, general practitioners, family doctors, internists, and rehabilitation specialists are some of the medical experts who treat persons with arthritis.
This depends on personal choice, the kind of arthritis involved, and the degree of inflammation. Muscle strengthening can help relieve the strain on sore joints. Small free weights, exercise machines, isometrics, elastic bands, and resistive water workouts can all be used for strength training.
Correct placement is crucial since badly performed strengthening exercises can result in muscle tears, increased discomfort, and increased joint swelling.
How Much Exercise Is Too Much?
Most experts believe that exercise is too hard if it produces discomfort that lasts more than an hour. When people with arthritis notice any of the following signs of strenuous exercise, they should work with their physical therapist or healthcare provider to adjust their exercise program: unusual or persistent fatigue, increased weakness, decreased range of motion, increased joint swelling, and continuing pain (pain lasting more than 1 hour after exercising).
Should Someone With RA Exercise During a Flare?
During acute systemic or local joint flares, it is recommended to gently move joints through their complete range of motion once a day, with intervals of rest in between. An inflammatory joint, on the other hand, should not be extended.
During an active flare, swelling in the joint can strain tendons, ligaments, and the joint capsule at baseline, and further voluntary stretching can produce joint laxity and injury. Patients should consult with their doctor about how much rest they should get during general or joint flares.
There are recognized strategies for relieving pain for brief periods of time. People suffering from arthritis may find it simpler to exercise as a result of this brief respite. Your healthcare professional or physical therapist can recommend the appropriate strategy for each patient. Many people have found these strategies to be effective.
Moist heat: Warm towels, hot packs, a bath, or a shower can all be used at home for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day to ease symptoms.
Deep Heat: A health practitioner can use short waves, microwaves, and ultrasound to administer deep heat to non-inflamed joint regions. Deep heat is not advised for those who have acutely inflamed joints. Deep heat is frequently used around the shoulder to relax tense tendons before stretching exercises.
Cold: When applied for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, cold provided by a bag of ice or frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel helps to relieve discomfort and reduce swelling. It is frequently used to treat severely inflamed joints. This approach should not be used by anyone who has Raynaud’s syndrome.
Hydrotherapy (water therapy): can help with pain and stiffness. Exercising in a big pool may be easier since the water relieves pressure on sore joints. Water exercise sessions for adults with arthritis are available at many community centers. The heat and movement offered by a whirlpool also give comfort to some people.
Mobilization: Traction (soft, steady pushing), massage, and manipulation are all examples of mobilization therapy (using the hands to restore normal movement to stiff joints). These procedures, when performed by a qualified practitioner, can assist manage discomfort while also increasing joint mobility and muscle and tendon flexibility.
TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) units: TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) units may give some pain relief. TENS uses electrodes placed on the skin’s surface to deliver an electrical shock. Patients can wear a TENS device during the day and turn it on and off as required to regulate their discomfort.
Biofeedback: Biofeedback can help you relax your muscles and manage your pain reactions.
Relaxation: Relaxation treatment can also aid with pain relief. To alleviate pain, patients might learn to relax their muscles. Relaxation methods may be taught by therapists.
Acupuncture/Acupressure: Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese pain-relief technique. The needles, according to researchers, activate deep sensory neurons, which signal the brain to release natural painkillers. Acupressure is similar to acupuncture, except instead of needles, it employs pressure.
Precaution: If you haven’t been active in a while, you may have some soreness after exercising. In general, if you’re hurting for more than two hours after exercising, you definitely overdid it. Discuss with your doctor what type of pain is typical and what type of pain is a symptom of something more serious.
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