Exercise & Joint Pain - We can help.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease and is one of the leading causes of joint pain and disability in Australia. The area predominately affected is the cartilage (the protective covering over the ends of your bones), which degenerates with age. Damage to the cartilage can cause joints to become painful, swollen, stiff or give feelings of locking and giving way.
Why should I exercise when I have joint pain?
There has been a flood of recent high quality evidence supporting the use of exercise therapy for people with osteoarthritis. Therapeutic exercise has been shown to reduce pain and improve physical function in people with hip and knee OA. Additionally, hydrotherapy has been shown to have a short-term effect in self-reported pain, disability and QoL in people with knee and hip OA.
The effect is comparable with the use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as Nurofen and Voltaren in reduction of join pain! Although some discomfort may be experienced with exercise, current guidelines indicate this is not likely to be associated with harm or serious side effects. Most side effects are minor and include temporary increased pain at the affected joint or pain.
How does exercise help in managing my joint pain?
1. Reduced pain
Joint pain can be pervasive and affect you at rest, sleeping or during activity.
There is currently strong evidence to support a reduction in pain with exercise. This occurs through improved blood flow, strengthening of musculature around the joint and improve movement quality.
2. Improved quality of life
Persistent pain can limit your capacity to walk or stand for long distances, complete activities of daily living like shopping or cleaning, or spend quality time with oyur family.
In treating osteoarthritis with exercise, people self-report improvements in physical function and quality of life - allowing you to live life how you want.
3. Assist in weight loss
Being overweight can lead to more pain and damage in knees and hips affected by OA. Even modest reductions (eg 5% of body weight) can noticeably reduce symptoms of knee OA.
Exercise is a fantastic aid in reducing weight alongside a dietary intervention, assisting in burning energy, controlled appetite and improving sleep quality.
4. Improve overall health
1 in 10 people with osteoarthritis self-reported poor health, twice as much as in the general population. Ongoing joint pain can make it difficult to address co-existing health issues.
Exercise is recommended as treatment for a range of chronic conditions including heart disease, diabetes and respiratory conditions.
5. Preparation for joint replacement
Joint replacement can lead to significant improvements in pain, but often means a lengthy recovery and changes to activity and exercise habits.
Exercise before or after a joint replacement can improve surgical outcomes and lead to a faster and more effective rehabilitation from the surgery.
Why should I see an Exercise Physiologist?
The current Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) recommends the prescription of an individualised progressive exercise program, taking into account patient presentation, functional capacity, comorbidities, preferences and resource availability.
Our exercise physiologists - Sarah, Alex and Jacob - specialise in the individualised prescription of exercise and hydrotherapy to ensure you are managing your joint pain with exercise therapy safely and effectively. Additionally, our exercise physiologists will provide you with support in pain management, weight loss advice and medication management.
Working as part of a team with your GP and orthopaedic specialists, an exercise physiologist can help execute your treatment plan and help you improve your joint health and live life without pain.
Find out more about how our Exercise Physiologists can help.
Jacob Miller AEP
Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre
Bartels EM, Juhl CB, Christensen R, Hagen KB, Danneskiold‐Samsøe B, Dagfinrud H, Lund H. Aquatic exercise for the treatment of knee and hip osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD005523. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005523.pub3.
Basedow, M., Williams, H., Shanahan, E., Runciman, W., & Esterman, A. (2015). Australian GP management of osteoarthritis following the release of the RACGP guideline for the non-surgical management of hip and knee osteoarthritis. BMC Research Notes, 8(1), 536. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13104-015-1531-z
Fransen M, McConnell S, Harmer AR, Van der Esch M, Simic M, Bennell KL. Exercise for osteoarthritis of the knee. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD004376. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004376.pub3
Fransen M, McConnell S, Hernandez‐Molina G, Reichenbach S. Exercise for osteoarthritis of the hip. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD007912. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007912.pub2.
Hochberg MC, Altman RD, April KT, et al. American College of Rheumatology 2012 recommendations for the use of nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic therapies in osteoarthritis of the hand, hip and knee. Arthritis Care & Research 2012 64(4):465–474.