Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disorder in the United States with 10% of men and 13% of women, age 60 or older, reporting symptoms1 For patients with arthritis, knee osteoarthritis is a major contributor to disability among those over the age of 60.2
Many patients are concerned that regular exercise will lead to arthritis or increase the symptoms of arthritis. Some patients ask “Will exercise make my arthritis worse?” A recent study of activity levels and arthritis pain, shows no link between the two.3
Because of the pain and stiffness associated with OA, patients may move and exercise less. Unfortunately, that can lead to an unhealthy cycle. A lack of exercise can cause unhealthy weight gain, which increases fat cells. Fat cells produce and release proteins into the body causing inflammation, which contributes to the progression of osteoarthritis leading to more pain and stiffness. The more pain and stiffness a patient experiences, the less likely they are to move and exercise.
How do you break the cycle? Exercise.
Studies have shown no evidence of an increase in the development of OA due to exercise. In fact, they have shown the opposite. Regular, moderate exercise can be very effective in reducing knee arthritis pain and helping slow the progression of osteoarthritis.4
Keeping your muscles and surrounding tissue strong is vital to maintain support for your bones and joints. Exercise builds stronger muscles, which reduce the stress on your joints. Exercise can also help maintain a healthy weight, which not only reduces stress on your joints, but can also decrease inflammation causing fat cells.
The benefits of exercise don’t stop there. It also helps increase your range of motion, promotes healthier cartilage, and reduces joint pain.
Although knee arthritis is common, exercise does NOT increase the chances of developing arthritis or even increase the severity of arthritis symptoms. On the contrary, exercise provides many benefits to keep joints healthy and reduce arthritis symptoms by strengthening muscles, promoting healthy cartilage, and reducing stress on the knee joint.
So stay active. Take a walk and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Join an exercise group at the community pool. There are lots of ways to participate in moderate exercise that will benefit you and your knees.
Dr. Paul Jacob is a leading hip and knee surgeon in Oklahoma City who pioneered robotic joint replacement surgery in an outpatient setting. Dr. Jacob has performed over 5000 robotic joint replacement procedures and actively participates in numerous research studies on robotic outcomes.