Benefits of Exercising With Arthritis

By Kelly K Veit, DPT January 22 February 6th, 2024 No Comments

Chances are, if you are reading this article, you or someone you know has arthritis. In fact, according to the Arthritis Foundation in the US, over 60 million adults are diagnosed with arthritis and there are over 100 arthritis related conditions (2024). Arthritis is a disease of the joints, either the bone or the tissues that surround the joint. You have roughly 350 joints in the body (Cleveland Clinic). That’s a lot of places for arthritis to pop up! Any movement you make from chewing your food to tying your shoes involves movement of a joint. If arthritis does occur, one type of damage is the wearing down of the joint, called osteoarthritis. This article will primarily focus on osteoarthritis, as it is the most common.

Within your skeleton, a joint is where two bones come to meet and movement can occur, like your knee. The bones are connected together by soft tissues called ligaments and tendons. The ligaments and tendons that surround the two bones form a joint capsule. Within this capsule, there are other cushiony type soft tissues called cartilages that help protect the ends of the bone. There are different kinds of joints in the body and they can move at different degrees of freedom. Osteoarthritis affects the entire joint, the bones and the tissues around it causing them to deteriorate and become inflamed (Arthritis Foundation). This can cause pain and limitations in movement. With less movement, muscles become weaker and joints become stiffer. This can then lead to less mobility and the need for support (physically, mentally and medically!). Keeping your joints as healthy as possible is key to keeping the whole system moving.

There’s Hope for Those with Arthritis

Once arthritis is diagnosed, there are ways to manage the pain and prevent further joint damage. Your doctor can facilitate the use of medicine to reduce inflammation and pain. Changes in diet can also be helpful to reduce inflammation. Taking a look at your overall activity, regarding repetitive movement or posture may help. It is most important to keep moving. Even though there is pain present, not moving will actually cause more pain. Knowing the level of severity the disease is at can help dictate what level of movement would be helpful. Physical therapists are mobility specialists and understanding the influence of the disease process on joints is one of our areas of expertise. The use of exercise can be very beneficial to combat the effects of osteoarthritis. Muscles that surround the joints provide support and structure to the area. There may be imbalances, including muscle tightness or weakness that put too much strain on a joint. The use of exercise has been documented in many sources to be beneficial to reduce pain. Once such study by Raposo et.al, reviewed 4,499 studies and 19 articles dated between 2010-2020 documenting the effect of exercise on knee osteoarthritis and found that the use of aerobic and strength training 3-5x week reduced pain levels and improved strength (2021). Another study by Deyle et.al, found that the subjects in their study who completed physical therapy had less pain and less functional disability at the one year mark than those that had glucocorticoid steroid injections of the knee for osteoarthritis (2020).

Tandem Strength & Balance

Arthritis is a pain, literally, but it doesn’t mean that it has to continue to worsen or limit your quality of life. Work with our trained Physical Therapist to review your medical history, make a plan to regain your mobility and get back to life.



“About Arthritis”. Arthritis Foundation. https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis. Accessed 17 Jan. 2024.

Deyle GD, Allen, CS, Allison, SC, et al. Physical Therapy versus Glucocorticoid Injection for Osteoarthritis of the Knee. N Engl J Med 2020; 382:1420-1429
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1905877

“Joints”. Cleveland Clinic, 18 Jul 2023. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/25137-joints Raposo, F., Ramos, M., & Lúcia Cruz, A. (2021). Effects of exercise on knee osteoarthritis: A

systematic review. Musculoskeletal Care, 19(4), 399–435. https://doi.org/10.1002/msc.1538

Rath, Linda. “What is Arthritis”. Arthritis Foundation, 9 Jun 2022, https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/what-is-arthritis

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