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Exercise can prevent arthritis pain

You don’t have to allow arthritis to disrupt your daily life. Spot the signs of arthritis and exercise for prevention.

Arthritis occurs most often in the hips, knees, lower back and neck.

"Joint pain and stiffness show up first thing in the morning and get in the way of daily activities like engaging in hobbies, working around the house or taking a walk," said Richard Gilbert, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Peconic Bay Medical Center. "The good news is patients can take steps to prevent arthritis pain."

At-home methods include:

  • Heat/cold: Whether you choose a heating pad or an ice pack depends on what you need, as heat relaxes muscles and cold reduces swelling and inflammation.
  • Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs reduce swelling and pain in joints. Talk with your doctor before taking anything new.

Get moving

"One of the best things you can do for your joints is exercise," Dr. Gilbert said. "It seems counterintuitive at first - your joints hurt when you move them. You might ask, won't being active make things worse? Lack of physical activity actually worsens joint pain and stiffness, but regular exercise can help."

Staying active strengthens the muscles around your joints and gives them more support. Weight loss, another benefit of regular exercise, also helps your joints - losing one pound of body weight takes four pounds of pressure off your knees.

A physical therapist can help you create the right exercise program tailored to your needs. Low-impact exercises, such as cycling, swimming or yoga, are often easier on the joints than other forms. Be sure to listen to your body, and don't push yourself too far. Sharp pain is a sign to stop or lower the intensity of your workout.

Spot the signs

Early signs and symptoms of arthritis vary because not everyone's joints are affected in the same way.

Common symptoms include:

  • Joint stiffness or pain, especially in the morning
  • Mild swelling
  • Pain that worsens with activity, or as the day wears on
  • Popping, clicking or cracking sounds
  • Decreased range of motion

If you experience any of these symptoms, talk with your doctor. He or she can confirm whether you have arthritis and work with you to find a solution.

Is joint pain disrupting your life? Schedule a consultation with one of our physicians.
(631) 369-5000