Approximately 32.5 million American adults live with osteoarthritis. This form of joint disease develops when the cartilage cushioning a joint begins breaking down, leading to bone deterioration. These changes typically occur slowly and worsen with time, leading to pain and stiffness, along with reduced function and mobility.
Fortunately, numerous treatments exist to manage osteoarthritis symptoms. Dayton Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Center offers both nonsurgical and surgical solutions. Whether you have mild or severe osteoarthritis, Dr. Paley always recommends including exercise as part of a comprehensive arthritis treatment strategy.
Here are the most effective osteoarthritis treatments and why exercise plays a crucial role in restoring your flexibility when you live with joint disease.
Treating osteoarthritis symptoms
Osteoarthritis involves cartilage degeneration where two or more bones come together, forming a joint. Several things increase your chances of experiencing this type of joint damage, such as:
- Being a woman, especially over age 50
- Experiencing a joint injury, either through trauma or overuse
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a family history of osteoarthritis
Unfortunately, you can’t reverse this type of joint damage. However, treatments exist to slow the progression of the disease, improve your pain, and restore function in the area.
As an experienced orthopedic specialist, Dr. Paley offers numerous treatments to address osteoarthritis symptoms. Depending on your joint damage, your treatment plan could involve medications, cortisone or lubrication injections, or surgery to repair or replace a severely damaged joint.
Each of these treatments can offer significant symptom relief. However, the secret to restoring flexibility, regardless of your treatment strategy, involves regular exercise.
Exercise and osteoarthritis
It’s hard to exercise when you have pain or limited mobility. However, physical activity is even more essential when you have joint disease. In fact, not getting enough exercise can lead to more pain and stiffness. And the good news? There’s no need to become an elite athlete to see the benefits.
Osteoarthritis treatments can address joint disease symptoms, but you need strong muscles and the surrounding tissues to support your bones. When they lose strength, they create more stress on your joints, leading to discomfort and reduced flexibility.
Instead, exercise helps:
- Strengthen muscles
- Maintain bone strength
- Improve stability and balance
- Increase energy
- Improve sleep quality
- Manage a healthy weight
And, even gentle exercise can reduce pain and increase flexibility.
Restoring your flexibility with exercise
Our expert physical therapists can make personalized recommendations to help you safely add the right exercise program to your osteoarthritis treatment strategy. In some cases, this could even involve working with a trained physical therapist who can provide specific activities that offer the best benefits based on the severity of your joint disease and symptoms.
In general, activities to restore flexibility when you have osteoarthritis includes:
- Range-of-motion exercises, like shoulder rolls
- Strengthening exercises, like weight training
- Low-impact aerobic exercises, like swimming, walking, or biking
- Body awareness exercises, like yoga or tai chi
You can even benefit from daily activities like walking your dog, raking leaves, gardening, or cleaning the house.
The important part of adding exercise to your daily life is to take your time and start slowly — pushing yourself too hard too fast will cause more trouble than good. Instead, move gently, slowly, and keep activities low impact.
You can also help relax painful joints and muscles before you begin by applying heat for approximately 20 minutes. Similarly, applying ice to tender areas after exercise for up to 20 minutes can also ease discomfort.
Are you looking for osteoarthritis relief? Contact Dayton Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine Center to learn how to treat your symptoms and restore your flexibility by calling (937) 436-5763 to schedule a consultation.