How Staying Active Can Decrease Arthritic Pain

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and affects over 30 million adults in the United States according to the Center for Disease Control. Over time, the normal wear and tear on our bodies break down the cartilage in our joints. Typically, osteoarthritis occurs in the weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and the knees, but can occur in any joint of the body. If you have osteoarthritis, simply staying active with joint-friendly activities can help ease your pain, increase your function, and improve your quality of life.

Our joints need synovial fluid (lubrication) to stay healthy and move well. The best way to circulate synovial fluid is through mobility. There are several low-impact exercises and activities that are good for people with osteoarthritis. Walking, biking and swimming are just a few examples. Activities should be modified for good days and bad days. When you are having less pain, it would be a good idea to do some higher-level exercises and even incorporate some strengthening exercises. On days that you have more pain, it would be good to take these days easy and incorporate more stretching exercises. Whether you are having a good day or a bad day, it is always good to warm up with some light exercises as well as cool down with some light exercise.
Whenever you start a new exercise program, some pain, stiffness, and swelling are normal. Don’t let this discourage you! It may take several weeks (up to eight) before your body gets accustomed to the new activity level. Making sure you have good, supportive footwear will help with this. Also, icing the affected joint(s) after activity can help decrease pain and swelling.
If you have osteoarthritis and don’t know where to start with a new exercise program, physical therapy can help! A physical therapist can establish an exercise program that works well for you as well as answer questions that you might have regarding your arthritis and your plan of care. We have several locations throughout the Wichita area, and even in other parts of the state, so visit to find one near you!
Content provided by Myranda Griebel, PTA