Osteoarthritis Advice: Stay Active

By Dr. Diana Hayslip

The opportunity to get outside and swim, walk or ride a bike is probably just what you and the more than 27 million other Americans who suffer from osteoarthritis need.

Osteoarthritis is the most common kind of arthritis, which is inflammation of the joints that causes pain and can limit movement.

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in your body and causes the cushion layer between your bones (cartilage) to wear away.

Although a cure for osteoarthritis has not been found, your doctor can help you make a plan for staying active, protecting joint damage, limiting injury and controlling pain.

When joints hurt, people tend not to use them, and muscles get weak.

This can cause the joint to work less effectively, which makes it harder to get around and causes more pain. And the cycle begins again.

Osteoarthritis tends to get worse over time, but you can do much to help yourself, including staying as active as possible.

If you have osteoarthritis, you should talk with your doctor about ways to control your pain so that you can stay active.

Swimming, walking and cycling are some of the simplest and best workouts for individuals with osteoarthritis.

These aerobic activities allow individuals to get their hearts pumping with minimum impact on joints.

Swimming allows you to get a complete workout with little impact on your joints.

Walking, especially on a treadmill with shock absorbers, is helpful. Be sure to select high quality footwear to reduce impact on your joints.

With cycling, because you are sitting, you avoid straining your lower and upper physique.

If you have intense joint discomfort, it is wise to begin on a stationary bike until your body adapts.

In addition to swimming, walking and biking, here are some additional tips:

  •  Lose weight if you’re overweight.
  •  Exercise regularly for short periods.
  •  Consult a physical therapist.
  •  Use canes and other special devices to protect your joints.
  •  Avoid lifting heavy things and overusing your joints.
  •  Push, rather than pull objects
  •  Take your medicine properly.
  •  Use heat and/or cold for pain or stiffness