Does Activity Make Arthritis Pain Worse or Better?

If you have arthritis, you likely know how painful it can be. So you may be surprised to learn that one of the best ways to reduce arthritis pain is to get moving. Research indicates that physical activity can be very effective in reducing pain and improving mobility. 

At Orthopedic Associates of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, Florida, Edward R. Dupay, Jr., DO, and his entire care team are dedicated to providing comprehensive treatment for all types of arthritis. If you’re stuck on the sidelines with the joint pain of arthritis, we can help you get back on your feet.

Read on to learn how activity can reduce arthritis pain, and learn ways you can safely get moving again this winter.

How can exercising reduce arthritis symptoms?

Although it may seem counterintuitive, staying active and exercising with joint-friendly activities is one of the best ways to stay mobile and ease arthritis pain. Staying physically active can also help reduce your risk of falling or injuring yourself. Other benefits include:

While exercise can help improve arthritis pain, the opposite is also true. A lack of exercise can make your joints stiff and lead to more pain and discomfort. This is because not exercising can cause the muscles that support your joints to weaken, which can lead to more stress and strain on your joints. 

Are certain types of exercise better for arthritis?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following tips to help you exercise safely with arthritis:

If you have arthritis, choose low-impact aerobic exercises that don’t place too much stress on your joints. Options may include walking, swimming, cycling, low-impact exercise classes, and gardening. Aim for about 2.5 hours of moderate activity each week or 1.25 hours of high-intensity exercise. Along with aerobic exercise, be sure to include:

These activities can help strengthen and tone the tissues surrounding your joints and help prevent falls. 

What if my pain worsens after exercise?

When you start any new physical activity, aches and stiffness are normal. It can take time for your joints to adjust to your new exercise routine, so it’s important to stick to it and give your body time to acclimate. 

Warming up and cooling down before and after you exercise can help ease sore muscles and prevent injury. You should also modify your activity as your body adjusts. If your pain doesn’t improve, exercise for less time or for fewer days each week until it does. 

Furthermore, try different activities. If cycling is too painful, for example, try swimming.

Be sure to call Dr. Dupay if your pain doesn’t improve, is sharp or stabbing, or gets worse at night. You should also call him if you experience a dramatic increase in swelling or your joints feel warm or appear red.

What medical treatments are available for arthritis?

Comprehensive treatment is best for arthritis. At Orthopedic Associates of Southwest Florida, Dr. Dupay first determines the type of arthritis you have. Then he evaluates the condition of your joints and overall physical health to determine the best course of treatment.

There are several ways to treat arthritis, from lifestyle changes ― such as the activities described above ― to medications, such as anti-inflammatories, to surgical intervention.

Don’t let arthritis pain keep you on the sidelines this year. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Orthopedic Associates of Southwest Florida today.

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