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If you’re dealing painful arthritic joints, being more active probably seems counterintuitive. But increasing physical activity — within certain limits — could be just what you need to help slow the progression of your arthritis and reduce its painful symptoms.

At Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation in Pembroke Pines, Florida, David Berkower, DO, customizes arthritis treatment plans for his patients. He takes into account each patient’s symptoms, medical needs, lifestyle, and other factors. In this blog, Dr. Berkower explains how exercise can help you feel better and enjoy a more active lifestyle.

Arthritis 101

Arthritis is a degenerative condition that damages the joints. There are several kinds of arthritis, including:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Septic arthritis (or infectious arthritis)
  • Metabolic arthritis (sometimes called gout)

Osteoarthritis is by far the most common type of arthritis. This is the type of arthritis that often occurs with age. However, younger people can develop it, too, especially people who use their joints repetitively. Nearly 33 million Americans have osteoarthritis, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

No matter which type of arthritis you have, moving and staying active can be difficult, especially as the disease progresses. But even though movement can be painful, it’s still really important to stay active. In fact, being mobile can actually help decrease your painful symptoms, as long as your activity is tailored to your needs.

Exercising safely

If you have arthritis, staying active can help decrease inflammation in your joints and help keep them mobile. Plus, physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which can help keep your joints from enduring unnecessary strain.

Most people with arthritis benefit from three types of exercises:

  • Aerobic exercises to improve endurance and healthy circulation
  • Strengthening exercises to build strong, supportive muscles
  • Range-of-motion exercises to help joints stay flexible

Joining a gym, a community pool, or a walking group is a great way to stay active and get support to stay on track. But, you can also benefit from simply being more active in your daily life. No matter what type of activity you choose, these tips can help.

Start slowly

It’s good to be enthusiastic about staying active, but you shouldn’t overdo it. It’s important to start any new activity slowly to give your body time to warm up and adjust. This is especially true if you’ve been leading a relatively inactive lifestyle.

Wear good shoes

Match your shoes to your activity, and use insoles when needed for extra support. The right shoes should offer good support for your joints, and they should also work to absorb some of the impact.

Use moist heat

Applying a moist heat pack to your joints for 15-20 minutes before exercising can improve circulation to the area and relax your muscles, so they’ll be ready for action.

Take pain medication ahead of time

If you normally use medicine to help relieve joint pain, schedule your activity for about 45 minutes after taking your medicine. That’s about when most pain medicines kick in.

Take time for rest

While staying active is important, it’s also important to take some time to rest your joints and muscles, so they’ll have time to recover. If you don’t feel well or you’ve had a poor night’s sleep, those are good days to rest, too.

Keep your arthritis symptoms in check

Being more active is important for managing arthritis symptoms, and so is seeing your doctor. As an experienced pain management professional, Dr. Berkower can keep your arthritis treatment focused on your needs with regular office visits to ensure your plan stays on track.

To get help for your arthritis, or to see if you have this condition, book an appointment online or over the phone with Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation today.

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