Arthritis is the most common condition affecting adults as they near their elderly years. The condition is characterized by pain and inflammation in the joints. According to statistics from the Arthritis Foundation, around 13 percent of men and 19 percent of women over the age of 45 have arthritis in their knees severe enough to cause pain and other symptoms.
Many arthritis patients experience mobility issues due to pain in their legs, knees, and feet. New research suggests that the best approach for arthritis in the knees goes against a patient’s natural instinct to rest while in pain and that they should be exercising.
The researchers behind the study examined the data for 1,800 adult knee arthritis patients. The participants wore a motion tracker for an approximate period of a week. The studies follow up period lasted over five years. The participants were divided into groups based on the amount of time they replaced other activities with exercise and the intensity of the exercise.
They defined moderate-to-high intensity as more than 100 steps per minute. After the follow-up period of five years, only six percent of the total participants required knee replacement surgery.
Walking Reduces Need for Surgery
After the analysis, the researchers determined that even five minutes daily of brisk walking helped to reduce the chances of knee replacement by 16 percent. The researchers were very clear that the results were only true for those who walked “briskly” at a moderate-to-high intensity and not for those who did only light walking.
Medical practitioners often struggle when advising patients with knee arthritis who wonder if they should keep up their current routine or do more or less of what they are already doing. These results offer a baseline for the advice they might recommend to their patients in future. The findings of this research are inconclusive, however, and should not be used as proof that walking reduces the risk of surgery in the treatment of arthritis. This study was purely observational and cannot provide causational evidence for a reduced need for knee replacement surgery.
The findings of the new study do have merit, in indicating that patients with arthritis are better off by exercising than by remaining sedentary. Exercise has innumerable health benefits including reducing risk of heart attack and stroke. According to the researchers, finding an ending an exercise regimen that you enjoy and can build upon are the most important factors in being able to incorporate a routine that you will stick to. As the findings suggest, start with five minutes of brisk walking every day for a week and then increase it slowly over time to 10 minutes, and then 15, etc.
For those who suffer from severe pain as a result of their arthritis, the researchers recommend investigating potential physical therapy options in your area. Be sure to discuss your desire for physical therapy with your regular medical practitioner before beginning your sessions. Your doctor can likely recommend a therapist to you that will suit your needs and financial situation.
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