Osteoarthritis & exercise
Friday, November 09, 2007
I have a touch of osteoarthritis at the base of my thumb in my right hand. After a major car accident (end of 1999), I had a lot of pain there & had to wear a brace for a few months. X-rays showed that of the 9 pebblelike bones just above the wrist, one little bone was kinda scooped out, worn away. A specialist told me he sees this type of arthritis a lot in women who do fine-motor work day to day. Fortunately, I was able to build up strength in my hand eventually, & now it bothers me only rarely.
I did find that I can no longer bike with the typical bicycle configuration--handlebars that tilt your body forward so you're putting a lot of weight on your hands/wrists. I gave my old bike away. When I can afford it, I hope to buy an old-lady bike that allows me to sit up nearly straight.
Occasionally I have a bit of pain in my knees. That hasn't been diagnosed as arthritis; it may just be muscle/tendon issues that come & go. In any case, doing squats & lunges has strengthened my knees so that the problem has become more rare.
Which brings me to some encouraging info in the osteoarthritis SP e-mail I opened this morning:
* A 14-year study published in Arthritis Research and Therapy, found that aerobic exercise was associated with a substantial and significant reduction in pain, among men and women of various shapes and sizes.
* A 2003 study published in the Journal of Arthritis and Rheumotology found that people with arthritis can safely improve their levels of physical fitness using a regular strength and endurance training program.
* Long-term studies have shown that moderate weight-bearing activity can reduce bone loss and joint damage in people with arthritis, without increasing pain or disease severity.
* According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, strength training can help people with arthritis preserve bone density and improve muscle mass, strength and balance.
The conclusion: "It's no secret that exercise is beneficial for people with arthritis. Regular exercise helps decrease pain, delays disability, reduces stiffness, and improves mobility, range of motion, and overall function. And exercise doesn't have to be strenuous to offer benefits." My experience bears this out!