Osteoarthritis (OA) is a complex disease whose pathogenesis includes the contribution of biomechanical and metabolic factors which, altering the tissue homeostasis of articular cartilage and subchondral bone, determine the predominance of destructive over productive processes. Although cartilage degeneration characterizes human osteoarthritis (OA), changes also involve the participation of the synovial membrane and the subchondral bone.
Best exercises for Osteoarthritis
Research suggests that older women may be able to prevent osteoarthritis pain by getting as little as one to two hours of moderately intense physical activity each week. Lack of exercise may contribute directly to osteoarthritis, especially by causing the atrophy of supportive and shock-absorbing muscles, such as those surrounding the knee.
The basic components of the exercise prescription are activities that improve flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance. Exercise should be individually tailored, to prevent injury and aggravation of the osteoarthritis. That usually means starting with an evaluation by a physician, physical therapist, or other health professional experienced in the management of osteoarthritis. The activities your clinician recommends and his or her advice on how much and how often to exercise will depend on various factors, including which joints are involved, how severe the pain is, how fit you are, and whether you have other medical conditions.
- Flexibility (Range-of-motion) Exercises
Flexibility exercise to improve joint mobility, reduce stiffness, and help prevent tightening of the tissues around the joint.
Flexibility exercises gently stretch and lengthen the muscles and move the joints through a range of motion that’s comfortable. You should not feel pain but produces a sensation of resistance. You should perform these exercises when you are feeling the least pain and stiffness, for example, after a warm shower or at the end of the day. If you take a pain reliever, do your stretching when the drug is having its strongest effect. You can start with just one or two exercises a day, three times a week, but try to work up to performing several, at least once a day.
Inner leg stretch
Sit with your knees bent and the soles of your feet together. Draw your heels close to your body. Holding the shins or ankles with your hands, slowly bend your upper body forward and gently press your knees down with your elbows. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
Hip and lower back stretch
Lie flat on your back with legs extended. Keep your neck on the floor but look down toward your chest. Bend both knees and clasp them with your hands, pulling your knees toward your shoulders as far as they will comfortably go. Breathe in deeply and exhale, bringing the knees closer as you breathe out. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds while breathing normally.
Double Hip Rotation
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keeping your shoulders on the floor, gently lower your knees to one side and turn your head to the opposite side. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Bring your knees back to the center and repeat on the other side.
- Strength (Resistance) Training
By strengthening muscles, you protect and support affected joints and improve overall function. Inactivity due to osteoarthritis, as well as aging in general, can reduce muscle mass, contributing to frailty and weakness.
Strength training involves contracting the muscles against resistance. The resistance can be from your own body or from hand or ankle weights or resistance bands. Your clinician will recommend specific exercises based on the condition of your joints and your level of pain. Muscles should not be exercised to the point of fatigue. Start with four to six repetitions rather than the eight to 12 normally associated with resistance training. If you have joint pain that lasts more than an hour after you exercise, you’re probably overdoing it. You should not do strength training more than two days per week to begin with.
Chair Sit to Stand Exercise
Rest a chair against a wall. Sit at the front of the chair, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Lean back in a half-reclining position with your arms crossed and your hands on your shoulders. Keeping your head, neck, and back straight, bring your upper body forward, and then stand up slowly. Pause. Sit back down slowly and return to your original position. Repeat four to six times; build up gradually to eight to 12 repetitions. Use the arm rest of the chair, if you are unable to stand without support.
Hip Extension Exercise
Holding onto the back of a chair for balance, bend your trunk forward and slowly raise your right leg straight behind you. Lift it as high as you can without bending your knee or pitching forward. Pause. Slowly lower the leg, returning to the starting position. Do four to six repetitions. Repeat with the left leg. Build up gradually to eight to 12 repetitions. For added resistance, wear an ankle weight on the leg you are lifting.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your palms flat on the floor next to your hips. Keep your back straight as you lift your buttocks as high as you can off the mat, using your hands for balance only. Pause. Lower your buttocks not quite to the floor, then lift again. Repeat four to six times; gradually build up to eight to 12 repetitions.
- Endurance or Aerobic Exercise
Low-impact aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular and overall function, contributes to your sense of well-being, helps control weight, and builds muscles while protecting joints. Good choices include bicycling, walking, swimming, rowing, and the use of an elliptical trainer. You may need to avoid activities that put too much strain on the joints, such as running and sports that involve jumping, quick turns, or sudden stops tennis and basketball, for example.
Swimming and pool exercises have several advantages for people with osteoarthritis. Warm water is soothing to muscles and joints. The buoyancy of water reduces the load on your joints, and water provides resistance, which adds to muscle strength. Try to work your way up to 30 minutes of low-impact aerobic exercise at least four times a week.
Role of Physical Therapy in Osteoarthritis Pain
Physical therapist assist to ease arthritis pain. He can strengthen the muscles that support your damaged joints, help reduce joint stiffness, and improve your range of motion.
- Hot and cold therapy: Although it’s only a temporary fix, applying heat and ice packs to arthritic joints can ease inflammation and pain.
- Weight loss: Being overweight adds extra stress to your damaged joints. Losing weight can help relieve some of that pressure, which lessens the pain
- Braces: Supporting your arthritic joint with a brace or splint can give it the extra strength it needs to work properly. But these assistive devices offer temporary support and relief they shouldn’t be used all the time.
- Joint mobilization: Joint mobilization of the joints affected by osteoarthritis can help some people feel less pain and stiffness.
- Exercise: This is an extremely effective pain management method for people with osteoarthritis. It’s perfectly safe to exercise with arthritis, and as an added benefit, it can improve joint health and function.
- TENS: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, TENS is a procedure that uses light electrical pulses to change the way pain is felt.
If you need a free consultation about physical therapy and osteoarthritis in your hip, knee, back, shoulder, wrist, ankle joints, reach out to us. You do not need to see a physician before you consult with a physical therapist in Texas.