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Exercise Your Way to Better Joint Health

As an otherwise healthy population gets older, the wear and tear of the years contributes to osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition that affects the joints in your body, causing stiffness and pain. Your instinctive reaction to pain and lost mobility might be to increase rest, yet in most cases, mild to moderate use of affected joints is beneficial to your long-term health. 

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, Mihaela Perijoc, MD, MHA, affirms that exercise could be your best choice for reduced pain and increased flexibility of aging joints.

Understanding osteoarthritis

By far, the most common form of joint deterioration is osteoarthritis, one of over 100 forms of the condition. Typically, osteoarthritis starts due to injury or overuse of a joint breaking down the protective cartilage at the ends of bones. This, in turn, sets off a sequence of other effects that add up to a progressive failure of the joint. It can lead to total joint replacements of knees, hips and more.

Once osteoarthritis begins, there’s no way to reverse the damage and chronic pain is often a by-product. Living with pain typically requires a collection of strategies for dealing with pain. This can include pain medications and a variety of therapies in combination. Lifestyle changes can also help slow the progress of osteoarthritis, as well as reducing the amount of pain you experience.

Exercise and joint pain

Though joint pain is often accompanied by stiffness and limitations to the mobility of an affected joint, continuing to operate the joint in appropriate ways can benefit the joint in several ways. This is a rare case where “playing through the pain” may be a good idea.

Some of the benefits you may see from an exercise routine targeted to joint pain could include:

Muscle strength

Exercise that encourages muscle strength can help distribute the weight loads that your joints otherwise support on their own. There’s no need to body build. Even modest resistance exercise can prove beneficial.

Range of motion

Gentle stretching beyond your current range of motion can prove beneficial, if you proceed cautiously, pushing just a bit past your limits. Mild stretching can help reduce pain and inflammation, as well as making you more flexible with greater mobility.

Balance and center of gravity

Correct posture helps keep your body in proper alignment, another way to promote good weight distribution. Slouching can, for example, put extra pressure on the joints of your spine. Correct your posture and you relieve some of the burden on the joint. The better your balance and posture, the more your joints work together to support movement.

Cardiovascular endurance

Your body’s natural healing and pain management systems depend on good blood flow. When you add aerobic exercise to your routine, you’ll notice improvements in overall fitness and, quite likely, reduced pain in your problem joints. The key is keeping exercise low impact to avoid aggravating joint pain. Working out in water is an excellent idea, as buoyancy helps relieve the load on your joints as you exercise.

Developing a pain management exercise program is easy when you partner with the team at North Texas Internal Medicine Specialists. Dr. Mihaela Perijoc and her team are arthritis specialists, and they can work with you to create an exercise plan that fits your lifestyle and fitness level.

Contact the office to schedule your initial consultation. You can phone the practice directly or request an appointment through the online booking tool on this page. Break free of the shackles of joint pain today.  

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