In this pain-relief approach, a massage therapist will lightly stroke and/or knead the painful muscle. This may increase blood flow and bring warmth to a stressed area. However, arthritis-stressed joints are sensitive, so the therapist must be familiar with the problems of the disease.
Using Exercise and Weight Control to Treat ArthritisBesides taking the right medicine and properly resting your joints, another important part of arthritis treatment is exercise. Exercising is a good way to stay fit, keep muscles strong, and control arthritis symptoms. Daily exercise, such as walking or swimming, helps keep joints moving, lessens pain, and makes muscles around the joints stronger.
Three types of exercise are best for people with arthritis:
- Range-of-motion exercises, such as dancing, relieve stiffness, keep you flexible, and help you keep moving your joints.
- Strengthening exercises, such as weight training, will keep or add to muscle strength. Strong muscles support and protect your joints.
- Aerobic or endurance exercises (like bicycle riding and swimming) make your heart and arteries healthier, help prevent weight gain, and improve the overall working of your body. Aerobic exercise also may lessen swelling in some joints.
A physical therapist can help plan an exercise program that will give you the most benefit.
Excess pounds put extra stress on weight-bearing joints, such as the knees or hips. Studies have shown that overweight women who lost an average of 11 pounds substantially reduced the development of osteoarthritis in their knees. In addition, if osteoarthritis has already affected one knee, weight reduction will reduce the chance that it will occur in the other knee.
(Click BMI Calculator to see if your weight is within a healthy range. Click Arthritis and Exercise for more information.)