Exercise is a key part of arthritis treatment programs

Dr. David Seaman, special for the Erie Times-News

As a rheumatologist, I see patients seeking diagnosis and treatment for a common disease, arthritis.

Although medications can reduce pain and inflammation and prevent disease progression, many patients continue to experience some degree of ongoing disease activity, which can lead to disability and difficulty performing activities. everyday.

Not only is it important that a patient experience less pain and swelling from their arthritis, but that they also continue to function physically, emotionally, and socially. Exercise can reduce disability and keep a person working.

The role of exercise in this area cannot be overstated. Exercise is effective and safe for maintaining a good quality of life.

Arthritis is one of the most common causes of disability worldwide. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis with approximately 528 million people affected worldwide.

In the United States, there are approximately 52 million people affected, up from 29 million in 1990. This increase is due to many factors, including an aging population and rising obesity rates.

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Although we can’t stop ourselves from getting older, we can make progress in reducing our weight. Good nutrition plays a major role, as does exercise.

Physical activity, including aerobic and resistance exercise, should be part of a treatment program for all arthritis patients. Once a patient’s pain and inflammation are under decent control, an exercise program should be started.

As a general rule, start an exercise program at a low level and gradually increase it: “start low and go slow”.

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Know that the goal is to be able to maintain at least some level of activity for the rest of your life. Exercise helps reduce disease activity, fatigue and pain, and improves psychological well-being.

When a person begins to exercise and feels empowered, they can get up and go to work in the morning, take care of the children, prepare meals, attend social gatherings, etc.

When a person stops using their joints, they are more likely to develop loss of joint motion, contractures, and muscle wasting. This then leads to additional joint stiffness and weaker muscles.

The best forms of exercise for arthritis patients are low impact aerobic exercise and resistance training. Getting your heart rate up, but without causing further pain or joint damage, is important for overall health.

Great examples include walking, swimming, biking, or cross-country skiing. If a joint becomes painful or swollen, you can temporarily stop exercising.

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It is important to resume play as soon as possible and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. The sofa is your enemy.

Physiotherapy and occupational therapy play a key role, especially if a patient needs more guidance in performing certain exercises appropriately to avoid injury.

Physical therapy and occupational therapy can reduce pain and inflammation, preserve joint function, and improve strength. Usual activities of daily living that were once considered impossible, become possible.

Dr. David Seaman is a rheumatologist at UPMC Hamot.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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