Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common chronic disorder of the joints that is mostly prevalent in older people however can also affect younger individuals. In osteoarthritis affected joints, the cartilage wears down until little or none remains, hence decreasing joint space. We rely on this cartilage to absorb shock and allow smooth movements. Due to the bone on bone nature of osteoarthritic joints, new bone may start to form around joint surfaces known as bone spurs. These changes cause pain and limitations in joint movement.
What can exercise do?
Exercise is recommended for the management of OA and is effective in relieving symptoms just as medication would. Exercise, however, has fewer side effects.
Exercise Physiology Programs Can:
Help to reduce pain
Increase muscle strength
Improve joint range of movement
Improve balance and joint stability
Prevent the loss of fitness and muscle wastage
Improve physical function and wellbeing
Strength training and aerobic exercise are recommended forms of exercise for OA.
When commencing an exercise program, individuals with OA should consider their functional ability, health status and personal preference. Low-impact exercise is encouraged to reduce and avoid excessive loading on the affected joints. Resistance exercise can take place in a gym or group exercise class, or even in the comfort of your home.
Walking, swimming or cycling are forms of aerobic exercise that you should try to achieve most days of the week if tolerated. This can help to increase blood flow to your joints, improving pain, stiffness and swelling. A water-based exercise is a great option for offloading painful joints whilst working on balance, strength and range of motion.
4 Life Exercise Physiology has university qualified Accredited Exercise Physiologists who can assist in developing a program that is suitable for you.