Osteoarthritis: Exercising regularly can 'help with inflammation'
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Knee pain can be attributed to many causes but one of the most prevalent is osteoarthritis – the most common type of arthritis in the UK. Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes joints to become painful and stiff. Unfortunately, there’s no known cure for osteoarthritis, which can cause resignation to set in. However, a new study suggests osteoarthritis knee pain can be alleviated through a simple and free exercise.
In the study, published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine discovered that walking for exercise can reduce new frequent knee pain among people aged 50 and older diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis.
Additionally, findings from the study indicate that walking for exercise may be an effective treatment to slow the damage that occurs within the joint.
“Until this finding, there has been a lack of credible treatments that provide benefit for both limiting damage and pain in osteoarthritis,” said Doctor Grace Hsiao-Wei Lo, assistant professor of immunology, allergy and rheumatology at Baylor, chief of rheumatology at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and first author of the paper.
How the researchers gathered their findings
The researchers examined the results of the osteoarthritis Initiative, a multiyear observational study where participants self-reported the amount of time and frequency they walked for exercise.
Participants who reported 10 or more instances of exercise from the age of 50 years or later were classified as “walkers” and those who reported less were classified as “non-walkers”.
Those who reported walking for exercise had 40 percent decreased odds of new frequent knee pain compared to non-walkers.
“These findings are particularly useful for people who have radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis but don’t have pain every day in their knees,” said Doctor Lo, who also is an investigator at the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety at Baylor and the VA.
“This study supports the possibility that walking for exercise can help to prevent the onset of daily knee pain. It might also slow down the worsening of damage inside the joint from osteoarthritis.”
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Doctor Lo said that walking for exercise has added health benefits such as improved cardiovascular health and decreased risk of obesity, diabetes and some cancers, the driving reasons for the Center for Disease Control recommendations on physical activity, first published in 2008 and updated in 2018.
“People diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis should walk for exercise, particularly if they do not have daily knee pain,” advises Doctor Lo.
“If you already have daily knee pain, there still might be a benefit, especially if you have the kind of arthritis where your knees are bow-legged.”
Other ways to treat pain
The NHS says: “A doctor can suggest treatment based on what’s causing your knee pain.”
- Prescribe medicine or physiotherapy
- Refer you to hospital for a scan or specialist treatment (for example, surgery).
- There are also some immediate steps you can take to alleviate knee pain.
The NHS advises putting as little weight as possible on your knee – for example, avoid standing for a long time.
You could also use an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) on your knee for up to 20 minutes every two to three hours, says the health body.
In the meantime, taking paracetamol can help to temporarily relieve the pain, it adds.
Paracetamol is a common painkiller used to treat aches and pain. It can also be used to reduce a high temperature.
It’s available combined with other painkillers and anti-sickness medicines. It’s also an ingredient in a wide range of cold and flu remedies.
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