Low-impact exercises ‘important’ for arthritis patients – when to rest

Low-impact exercises ‘important’ for arthritis patients – when to rest

Rheumatoid Arthritis: NHS on common signs and symptoms

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Arthritis and other joint problems are common across the UK, with millions affected. They can cause joint pain and inflammation, making mobility difficult. While this can prevent or deter many patients from regularly exercising, one expert says this could be key to easing symptoms.

Doctor Mike Burdon, from Pure Sports Medicine, spoke with Express.co.uk to explain more about arthritis.

He said: “Arthritis literally translates as ‘joint inflammation’ – there are various types of arthritis that we see in patients.

“This would usually lead to pain in the affected joint and sometimes visible swelling as well.

“One of the most common types is osteoarthritis – or bony arthritis.

“This can affect one or more joints but is not necessarily associated with widespread inflammation.

“More widespread inflammation can be seen in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis for example.

“Exercise and diet both have a very important role to play in managing arthritis.”

Exercise and arthritis

“For conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, exercise is of great benefit,” Dr Burdon said.

“Initially lower or non-impact exercise such as swimming, cycling or gentle walking may be best.

“Exercise itself reduces inflammation in the body and is very valuable in managing arthritis plus it has a role to play in prevention of arthritis initially.

“Aerobic exercise and strength training are both important- if overweight then weight loss and stronger muscles will help.

“Studies have actually shown that running actually reduces the risk of osteoarthritis in the long term – the myth that running is bad for you or causes arthritis had been shown to be false.”

One such study, published in Arthritis Care and Research in 2017, concluded that running had no impact on arthritis of the knees.

As part of a trial it analysed data on more than 2,600 adults, 30 percent of whom were runners or had been runners at one time in their lives.

The study said: “There is no increased risk of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis among self-selected runners compared with non-runners in a cohort recruited from the community.

“In those without osteoarthritis, running does not appear detrimental to the knees.”

When to rest

However, if you start to notice certain signs it is worth taking a break from exercising, he warned.

Dr Burdon advised: “If the pain and swelling is very bad initially then a period of rest is needed before exercise can be started or progressed.

“Physiotherapy and other rehabilitation may be required in individual cases to help reduce pain and improve function.”

Common symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
  • Inflammation in and around the joints
  • Restricted movement of the joints
  • Warm red skin over the affected joint
  • Weakness and muscle wasting.

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