Did you know, exercise can help reduce joint pain caused by degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis? It sounds crazy, right? You are probably thinking that exercise makes your muscles and joints sore. But the truth is, regular low-impact exercise and stretching is important for lowering inflammation, increasing flexibility, strengthening muscles, boosting circulation and supporting a healthy body weight.
Degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis caused by the inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints.
Damara Lackmeyer, Physical Therapist at St. Elizabeth Healthcare explains, “patients with degenerative joint disease often complain of joint pain with weight bearing activities such as walking, standing or stair climbing. They may also feel numbness, tingling and weakness.” She adds, “Research shows symptoms can be controlled by increasing the range of motion of your joints through exercise and stretching.”
Lackmeyer recommends the following low impact exercises to help increase range of motion in joints and decrease joint pain:
- Exercising in the water where weight bearing is minimized
- Low impact stretching
- Tai chi
Not only does the exercise help with pain, it helps keep joints and bones strong and limber, improve heart health/cardiovascular fitness, and it can have emotional benefits including lower stress, elevate your mood and help you sleep better.
If you are suffering from joint pain you may also benefit from visiting a physical therapist. Physical Therapy can teach you proper exercises, offer other therapy to treat your pain and manage your symptoms. It is important to keep in mind that while exercise does not change a degenerative condition, it can help reduce pain, maintain or improve joint motion, decrease muscle atrophy and improve one’s function.
If you are interested in physical therapy to help improve your joint pain, talk to your primary care doctor about a referral to St. Elizabeth Healthcare Physical Therapy or call (859) 572-2360.