Exercise Relieves Pain of Osteoarthritis

Exercise Relieves Pain of Osteoarthritis

Exercise can decrease pain, reduce the severity and frequency of falls, and improve the balance of people suffering from osteoarthritis, according to researchers at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Exercise also improves the quality and enjoyment of life for patients, a new study found.

“Pain is a huge factor in quality of life. If we can offer classes that help to reduce pain, that is a good thing,” said Sandra Goldsmith, director of the Public and Patient Education Department at the hospital. “We’d like to be a role model for other hospitals, showing them that offering this type of program can help their patients reduce pain.”

Researchers evaluated the effectiveness of a supervised low-cost hospital-based program on 200 osteoarthritis patients. Exercise classes were held weekly and included yoga, Tai Chi, pilates, and dance fitness.

Both before and after their exercise programs, patients answered surveys on their pain levels, falls, balance, and physical activity. Over half of the participants reported pain relief, as well as improvements in their sleep, mood, ability to walk, work, general activity and ability to enjoy life.

“We asked participants to rate their balance, and we found a statistically significant increase in those who rated their balance as excellent, very good or good,” said Dana Friedman, MPH, a manager at the hospital’s Public and Patient Education Department.

There was also a small decline in the number of falls reported by patients and a decline in the number of injuries treated at the hospital.

“Patients benefit from supervised exercise programs with regard to their overall sense of well-being and pain due to their arthritis. We encourage other institutions to launch these types of program,” said Linda Russell, MD, a rheumatologist at the hospital.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and affects more than 27 million Americans and over 100 million people worldwide. Osteoarthritis mainly impacts the hands, knees, and hips, and is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. Pain relievers work for only limited periods on osteoarthritis and can have side effects.

The study findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.

Authored by: Elizabeth Magill