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Why It’s So Important to Stay Active With Arthritis

When your arthritis acts up, the last thing you may want to do is move. But staying active is a great way to combat the disease. The office of Joshua D. Harris, MD, specializes in treating patients with arthritis and helping them regain an active and productive life.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a term used to describe more than 100 conditions that deal with cartilage damage. Cartilage is your body’s shock absorber. This tough tissue covers the surfaces of your joints and prevents your bones from rubbing against each other. 

Arthritis inflammation can cause cartilage to wear away, and therefore allow for the potential for bone-on-bone contact in your knees, elbows, and elsewhere. Some of the most common forms of arthritis include the following:

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease where cartilage — principally in the spine, hips, and knees — wears away and causes joint pain and limited range of motion. 

Rheumatoid arthritis

This autoimmune disease, which mostly affects the hands and feet, inflames joint linings and can lead to pain and deformity. 

Psoriatic arthritis 

When someone gets psoriasis, which is characterized by skin scaling and rashes, they may later develop psoriatic arthritis, which usually affects finger joints.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis

This type of arthritis affects children and causes joint swelling, pain, and stiffness. In the worst cases, a child may lose joint function.  

How does exercise help arthritis?

Although exercising may seem counterintuitive when your joints hurt from arthritis, moving can reduce pain and stiffness. Not moving can weaken muscles and stress joints, which can make arthritis symptoms worse. Regular exercise can do the following:

Good exercises for arthritis

Any activity that strengthens muscles, increases your range of motion, and gets your heart pumping can help relieve arthritis pain and discomfort.

Swimming and water aerobics are particularly good exercises. This is because the water can keep you from stressing your joints, and your exercises can help you increase your range of motion and reduce stiffness. Other activities can also help, such as:

Before engaging in activities, apply heat — such as with warm towels — to the joints and muscles you’re focusing on. When starting your activity, start slowly and move gently. At the end of your workout, apply ice to reduce swelling.

If you suffer from arthritis pain, Joshua D. Harris, MD, can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone today.

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