Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common forms of arthritis and affects men and women equally. OA is one of the main causes of disability as people grow older. Exercise can be any activity that enhances or maintains muscle strength, physical fitness and overall health. People exercise for many different reasons including weight loss, strengthening muscles and to relieve the symptoms of OA.
Exercise can help reduce pain, improve function, and prevent disability therefore improving quality of life.
- Muscle strengthening: Strong muscles may help to minimize the adverse effects of weight bearing on the joints by reducing the amount of force that is transmitted across the affected joints. Strong muscles may help support the joint.
- Increasing flexibility and range of motion: Often, when people do not use their muscles the muscles become weak, and normal movement becomes limited. Flexibility exercises can start with taking the joint through its normal range of motion
- Improving aerobic fitness: Some people with osteoarthritis limit their activities due to pain and range of motion restrictions, You may be able to regain functions that have been lost reengage in enjoy activities that had been discontinued. Exercise has also been shown to decrease pain in osteoarthritis.
- Weight Loss: Losing weight is particularly important in osteoarthritis patients who are overweight. Among the benefits of weight loss, there is a decrease in forces across the joint. decreasing symptoms in patients who have osteoarthritis, improves a patients exercise tolerance and aerobic abilities, improved sense of overall well being.
Types of Exercise
Physical therapy plays a critical role in the nonsurgical treatment of hip osteoarthritis. A primary goal is to help you learn how to control symptoms and maximize the health of your hip. You will learn ways to calm pain and symptoms, which might include the use of rest, heat, or topical rubs. A cane or walker may be needed to ease pressure when walking. Range-of-motion and stretching exercises will be used to improve hip motion. You will be shown strengthening exercises for the hip to steady the joint and protect it from shock and stress. Your therapist can suggest tips for getting your tasks done with less strain on the joint.
When hip structures are weak and unstable, excess forces are transferred down the leg during impact exercise, leading to injuries of the knee, ankle and foot. The key to preventing hip injuries is to strengthen the muscles supporting the hips with exercises such as squats, leg presses or even stair climbing. For those with osteoarthritis of the hips, water exercise and stationary cycling are ideal. Flexibility of the hips is equally important and can be enhanced with regular yoga and stretching exercises.
Exercises for Hip Arthritis
The following exercises are commonly prescribed to patients with hip arthritis. You should discuss the suitability of these exercises with your physiotherapist prior to beginning them.
Generally, they should be performed 3 times daily and only provided they do not cause or increase symptoms.
Begin this exercise lying on your back. Slowly take your knee to your chest as far as possible pain-free, then lower back down. Repeat 10 – 20 times provided there is no increase in symptoms.
Begin this exercise lying on your back . Keeping your knee straight, take your leg to the side as far as possible pain-free, then return to the starting position. Keep your knee cap and toes facing the ceiling throughout the exercise. Repeat 10 – 20 times provided there is no increase in symptoms.
Hip External Rotation
Begin this exercise lying on your back with your knee bent and foot flat on the floor . Take your knee to the side as far as possible pain-free, then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 – 20 times provided there is no increase in symptoms.
Begin this exercise by lying on your back. Slowly lift your bottom pushing through your feet, until your knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line. Tighten your bottom muscles (gluteals) as you do this and hold for 2 seconds. Then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times provided there is no increase in symptoms.
There are a few things to consider when coming up with an exercise plan. You can alter your workout by changing the intensity, such that you can have either a high intensity or a low intensity workout. If you normally exercise on land, you can try doing your workouts in the water, where the buoyancy effect of the water results in decreased weight bearing onto joints. There are even special pools that are a higher temperature than normal specifically for the treatment of arthritis to aid in movement. Remember that there is a balance between the benefits of weight-bearing activities and non weight-bearing activities. Weight bearing is beneficial for preventing osteoporosis and helping joint cartilage to acquire nutrition from joint fluid. The potential disadvantages of weight-bearing exercises include additional stress over the effected joint, which might increase pain and/or inflammation. There are a variety of exercises available, including weight bearing and those which are just minimally weight bearing. Weight-bearing activities would include walking, jogging, etc. Examples of minimal weight bearing exercises include the stationary bike, swimming and rowing.
Exercise therapy is an important component within the comprehensive treatment of patients with osteoarthritis. When properly prescribed, exercise can be a safe and effective method of relieving pain, enhancing function and ultimately improving the patient’s overall sense of well-being and quality of life. The exercise program should be tailored for the specific patient, since there is not a single exercise plan that is recommended for all patients with arthritis. An exercise plan should focus on strength training, improving flexibility and recovering range of motion. By working closely with your doctor you can determine which exercise plan will work for you, based on your individual needs and preferences. It is imperative to stress the importance of seeing your doctor before starting or substantially modifying a formal exercise program, since creating a safe and effective exercise program requires considering factors such as general medical conditions, your current level of functioning, as well as the type and severity of arthritis in a given patient.