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Osteoarthritis- How and Why Exercise Can Help

Osteoarthritis affects millions of individuals across the world. Osteoarthritis (known commonly as the "wear and tear" arthritis) is defined as the degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone. Your typical symptoms include joint stiffness, reduced range of motion and pain. Osteoarthritis can range from mild to severe and often in the mild cases no pain is experienced at all. In severe cases, pain can be an ongoing, continual feeling which is not task dependent (this means that no matter what you do, you can still experience pain). Osteoarthritis can affect any joint however is most commonly seen in the joints used commonly or that take the load of our body regularly (hips, knees and ankles). Many lifestyle factors can help in the management of osteoarthritis. One of the greatest management tools is exercise! Exercise can help by strengthening the muscles that surround the joint, allowing less load to go through your joint and more through your surrounding muscles. The muscles around a joint play a large role in providing stability to the joint. Commencing exercise with Osteoarthritis can be difficult depending on the severity of the individuals OA. If the Osteoarthritis in the joint is quite severe, a person may want to exercise in the water. Hydrotherapy is an effective form of exercise which can provide a low impact exercise option. This means that buoyancy of the water allows less impact on the body and the joints than you would experience during land based exercises. The key point to remember is that many people can live pain free with osteoarthritis given they are undergoing the right treatment options. Osteoarthritis does not need to be a condition that limits you! An Exercise Physiologist can help you determine the best exercise for you, your injuries and lifestyle. Motion is lotion!

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