Worldwide, arthritis is a major cause of disability and chronic pain.
Arthritis presents differently in everyone. Common symptoms include joint stiffness, muscle weakness, reduced balance and gait abnormalities.
In some cases, arthritis can be extremely debilitating, with pain and physical dysfunction leading to significant loss of quality of life.
In addition to these, psychological impairments such as depression and anxiety are common.
Unfortunately there is no cure for arthritis, however, there are ways that symptoms of arthritis can be reduced and/or managed.
One of the most under-utilised, yet most effective treatment is exercise.
Due to uncertainties regarding what exercises to do, and how to do them without causing harm, sometimes people feel they are unable to exercise at all.
Exercise should be SMART:
- Slow to begin with – exercise tolerance must be built up. This takes time, consistency and progressive overload to your muscles and joints.
- Modified to suit your needs – exercise should be specific to your condition and prescribed at an appropriate intensity. It may also be varied regularly to suit your needs on a particular day.
- Ask when unsure – it is important that exercises are performed correctly to reduce your risk of injury. As they say, better to be safe than sorry!
- Realistic – our advice is, if you have never been a runner, don’t expect to run a marathon in a few months. Setting goals that are relevant to your lifestyle helps maintain motivation and is much more sustainable.
- Time effective – you do not need to exercise for hours a day to get the benefits. Exercise can be broken up into short time slots to work around your day, or tolerance.
When it comes to exercise, some discomfort is common. Discomfort or pain is rarely associated with any damage. Increasing strength and mobility is essential for improving function, and long term will in fact improve pain. This can be difficult to achieve alone, so working with a health professional to monitor this is the best plan.
We have two options to help you with this at O-health. Either a 1:1 appointment with our Exercise Physiologists or Physiotherapists. Our other option is our specific hip and knee osteoarthritis program, GLA:D (Good Life with osteoArthritis from Denmark).
GLA:D is our 7 week education and exercise program based on the best available evidence for hips and knee arthritis. Over the 7 weeks you learn all about how to manage your arthritis and work on strengthening the correct muscles to decrease pain and increase function.
You can speak to one of our Exercise Physiologists or Physiotherapist to learn more, or call our friendly customer service team on 02 6021 2777 to make an appointment.