Painful Joints

Have you been increasing your exercise over the past few months? Perhaps you set new goals and are working toward new personal best times or distances. In the mean time is your body now sabotaging you? Do your knees and legs fail to move forward each time you get up from a chair? After long car rides are your hips in a permanently flexed position? Ah, the joys of aging! Sounds like osteoarthritis is creeping into your joints. Before you jog off to get a total knee replacement, here are a few things to try.

RICE

After exercising the old advice of rest, ice, compression, and elevation can always make sore joints feel better. Ice can work just as well as anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. Even if the injury/arthritis is long term, ice can reduce swelling after each exercise period. After 24 to 48 hours you can start using gentle heat. This will improve blood flow into the area and carry away debris from the inflammation.

EXERCISE

It may hurt to exercise but you need to get moving! Start walking short distances even if it is down to the mailbox or end of your driveway. Next day do two trips to the mailbox. Over a relatively short period of time you will start to get stronger and have more endurance. In just a few weeks after starting a strength training program you will already notice its easier to get up off the couch or get out of the car. Next expand your walk to once around your neighborhood or housing complex. Don’t worry about the number of steps on your exercise tracker like FitBit ®, just make sure that number is increasing.

STRETCHING

Stretching is just as important as strength training and cardiovascular exercise. Your knees may be hurting because of cartilage loss. The joint space narrows, increasing the pain as the bones begin to rub together. Stretching your hamstrings (the muscles on the back of your upper leg) can increase the joint space, thus your knees become more comfortable when bending. Stretching can be as formal as a yoga class or stretching on your living room rug. If you think you don’t have time to stretch, incorporate it into your day. Make a trip to the bathroom and stretch your back. Sore from cooking? Stretch your calf muscles. Stooped over your desk for hours? Reach up to the doorframe and stretch your back.

Severe pain, locking of a joint, or inability to bear weight requires a trip to your healthcare practitioner. If you are new to exercise, in time you will learn to differentiate between muscle soreness and joint pain. Sharp muscle pain may indicate injury.                                       ~Ellen Lang, RN, MPH

 Advice is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. Contact your healthcare provider before embarking on a new exercise program or diet plan.


Ellen Lang, RN, MPH

Advice is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. Contact your healthcare provider before embarking on a new exercise program or diet plan.

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