For patients with pain in their joints, the thought of exercise can be, well, painful.
Yet exercise is critical to relieving pain. That is because exercising painful joints helps replenish necessary lubrication to joint cartilage and can reduce stiffness, inflammation and pain. In addition, for those with pain in weight-bearing joints, such as the lower back, hips and knees, exercise can support weight loss and alleviate extra pressure on the joints.
But for those with joint pain, it is important to remember that not all exercise is the same. The goal is to improve the joint’s range of motion and strength without causing additional damage.
Pain can strike any of the body’s joints, including the knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, back and ankles. Ideally, exercises should be targeted to the specific joint that is causing pain, however, there are a number of general low-impact exercises that can be beneficial. These include:
In some cases, exercise alone will not be enough to address joint pain and stiffness. Patients may need to call upon the expertise of an experienced pain specialist who can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend interventions that can help. Steroidal injections, nerve blocks and spinal spacers are just a few of the options that may be appropriate, depending on the source and degree of pain.
Even with interventions such as these, however, exercise is always an essential part of any treatment plan. The body is meant to move, and with a combination of the right therapies, patients can find they can do so with less pain—or no pain at all.
Dr. Ioannis Skaribas is fellowship-trained and double board certified in Pain Medicine and Anesthesiology. He has been performing minimally invasive treatments to address chronic pain for more than 25 years and is nationally recognized for his expertise in diagnosing and treating difficult cases of complex chronic pain.
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