According to a study recently published in the Arthritis & Rheumatology journal, individuals who suffer from knee osteoarthritis (the most common type of arthritis) can stave off new bouts of pain or worsening pain simply by introducing more walking to their lifestyle. This new data is not only hopeful, but also provides people who struggle with osteoarthritis an easy – and free – outlet for reducing uncomfortable complications and symptoms associated with the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 32.5 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis. People develop osteoarthritis when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down over time, leading to joint damage and discomfort. Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis as the damage to the joints cannot be reversed, this recent study is just one example of the options for managing the disease, preventing further progression, improving joint function and reducing pain levels.
According to the CDC, there are certain risk factors for osteoarthritis. Here are some examples:
Some of the most common symptoms associated with osteoarthritis include pain in the affected joints that may hurt doing movement, stiffness (which may be more noticeable upon waking or after a period of inactivity), joint tenderness, a loss of flexibility and a reduced range of motion, a grating sensation when the joint is in use (this is sometimes accompanied by a cracking or popping noise), bone spurs (or extra bits of bone that form around the affected joint), and swelling, which sometimes results from soft tissue inflammation that surrounds the affected area.
The study included more than 1,000 individuals over the age of 50 with knee osteoarthritis. Some of the individuals included in the study experienced persistent pain at the outset of the disease, while others did not. After a four year-period, researchers found that the individuals who started out without frequent knee pain and who walked at least 10 times were not only less likely to experience new, regular pain in or around their knees, but that they also incurred less structural damage in the affected joints. All in all, 37% of the study’s participants who did not walk for exercise developed new, persistent knee pain as compared to 26% who incorporated walking into their lifestyles.
Walking can also reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis for those who have a greater chance of developing the disease, such as older individuals or those with a family history. Although the study’s findings are not conclusive, they do indicate the numerous benefits of walking in addition to highlighting the importance of continuing to find effective, low-impact strategies that people with osteoarthritis can incorporate into their lifestyles in order to mitigate uncomfortable complications that are associated with the disease.
Walking is not the only important factor when it comes to managing osteoarthritis, although it certainly may be one of the most beneficial. If you suffer from osteoarthritis, make sure you talk with your doctor and follow your recommended treatment plan. After consulting with your healthcare professional, consider the following strategies from the CDC that may also be useful for managing symptoms of your osteoarthritis:
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