If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “you’re bone on bone”, I’d be filling a pool with them and diving in like Scrooge McDuck. It seems like everybody’s knees and joints are aging at least 20 years ahead of their true age. What is going on? Why do we hurt when we age? Why am I so stiff in the morning? These are the questions I hope I can answer in this blog.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition identified by thinning of the cartilage that coats the surface of joints. This cartilage is useful for absorbing force, like in our knee during walking or other impact activities. An individual with OA may feel stiffness after periods of inactivity, soreness after doing too much, and more than likely feels better within 30 minutes of movement.
I’m going to ignore the elephant in the room *cough**cough* COVID *cough**cough*, but we have a situation right now where people were told to avoid leaving their homes if possible. Luckily, the restrictions are being eased and now people can go walk the mall, get a fresh tattoo, and even go back to the gym! However, despite these new freedoms, people are anxious to get out and about. Why does it matter if I want to just want to stay home take a break from exercise?
The issue with avoiding activity is that this is what OA breeds on. When we stop moving, we stiffen up, get weaker, and lose cardiovascular endurance. All of these result in decreasing physical function and increasing levels of pain. When we lose strength, the muscles lose their ability to control normal joint function and maintain stability. When we stiffen up, we feel more pain and maybe even move less, continuing the cycle.
As a Doctor of Physical Therapy, I have the secret to improving and loving life, even with OA. You want to hear it? Maybe I should make this a two-part blog. Okay fine, here is the secret: MOVE! Get up, walk around, stretch, get your heart rate up, go out for a walk, do some squats, do whatever brings you enjoyment in life that doesn’t allow OA to dictate what you can and can’t do. That’s really it! You can truly live life pain free, you just have to put in a little work.
Of course, please don’t suddenly increase your activity levels. If you’re unsure of how to do it safely or even feel that you may be causing more damage to your joints, please consult with a professional. Here at Total Balance Physical Therapy & Fitness, it is our mission to get people out of pain and to find lifestyle modifications that you enjoy and can stick with for the rest of your life. Simply by meeting with a Doctor of Physical Therapy, we can give you all the tools you need to take care of yourself and your pain, as we are the experts in treating musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and cardiopulmonary conditions. We can help you find the right stretches, the right exercises, provide manual therapy to assist joints to move better, and to educate you on everything you need to know to live your best and pain free life.
If you’ve ever been told you have arthritis, or if you have pain and stiffness that is impacting your life, call our office at 701-293-6037 TODAY to set up a time to chat with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy. We can find a method that meets you where you feel safest, either in our clinic or virtually from the comfort of your own home!