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Joint Pain

The Major Link Between Exercise and Joint Pain

Author| Ben Bobrow, MD

Exercise is critical for strength, flexibility and balance, however people with chronic joint pain exercise less than the general population. There is good data showing that pain is reduced, function increased and surgery delayed when people do daily exercise. The most common type of joint pain is osteoarthritis, but other common cause of joint pain include gout, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.1

Common symptoms include pain and stiffness in joints like the knee, hips and shoulders. Arthritic pain is associated with worse functional and poorer quality of life when compared with other forms of chronic pain. There is good research evidence that lifestyle modification, particularly exercise, improves joint pain.2

Often joint pain causes people to avoid physical activity which sometimes can lead to excessive attention to that joint. This is termed avoidance behavior where people won’t engage in certain activities out of fear of causing further injury, and has been linked to continued pain.

Psychological and social factors have been shown to be among the most important predictors of both the presence and severity of long-term pain in a range of disorders including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

What Can Help

  • Exercise is critical for strength, flexibility and balance, however people with chronic joint pain exercise less than the general population. There is good data showing that pain is reduced, functioning increased and surgery delayed when people do daily exercise.
  • When patients adhere to a regime of keeping a personal diary and social support from friends, they can improve long-term outcomes.

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/arthritis-related-stats.htm
  2. http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Living-Well-with-Rheumatic-Disease/Exercise-and-Arthritis