Exercise may be effective early treatment for arthritis

May 16, 2012

Topic: Total joint replacements

Low-impact exercises, such as swimming, may provide a conservative treatment for arthritis.

Some individuals who have arthritis may experience pain so great that they need total joint replacements. However, early diagnosis and conservative first-line treatments may be sufficient in some cases, according to one internist.

An early evaluation from a medical professional may distinguish osteoarthritis from rheumatoid arthritis and gout, said Patrick O'Meara, M.D., as quoted by The Doings Western Springs in Illinois. From there, healthcare providers can make decisions about medications, physical therapy or other treatments.

Physical activity may help by managing weight and strengthening the muscles that surround arthritic joints.

"You can start by doing a few small things in addition to your regular daily activities," O'Meara said, quoted by the news source. "Low-impact aerobic exercises, like brisk walking, biking, swimming or dancing, can be effective. If you're able to safely perform weight training or balance exercises, those can be beneficial as well."

If physical wear and tear on the cartilage becomes an issue, total joint replacements may be necessary.

Currently, about 27 million Americans aged 25 and older live with osteoarthritis, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. That number may rise to 67 million by the year 2030.

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