Arthrosis and Physical Activity: Are They Compatible?

13th May 2020
In this article we'll talk about arthrosis, a very common rheumatic disease. We'll also explain why it's beneficial to exercise if you suffer from it or if you want to prevent it.

Arthrosis, also known as osteoarthritis, is an age-associated pathology. It’s the most frequent rheumatic disease, and it causes symptoms that include pain and loss of function of certain joints. In an increasingly aging society, these types of diseases become more prevalent. In this article, we’re going to analyze if arthrosis is compatible with physical activity.

What is arthrosis?

Arthrosis is a type of rheumatological disease that appears quite frequently. It has a clear link to age. Its prevalence increases as the body ages, especially from the age of 60, although in women it can appear at younger ages due to menopause.

The disease originates due to damage in the articular cartilage, which prevents the bones from rubbing against each other by mobilizing the joint. The cartilages begin to degenerate over time due to different molecular changes in the connective tissue structures, such as collagen.

Cartilage degeneration exposes the bone edges of the joint and causes them to rub against each other. This causes both pain and bone injury, resulting in the loss of function of the joint.

Several factors can contribute to the development of this disease. Being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle are two of the factors that stand out among them.

A red colored knee to indicate pain due to arthrosis

Most frequent affected areas

Because the pathogenesis is on a molecular change, the manifestations of the disease are systemic. However, there are certain areas of the body where the symptoms of arthrosis are more pronounced:

  • The knee is one of the joints that suffer from the effects of arthrosis most frequently, and it’s also one of the most limiting areas when affected. Patients with knee arthrosis (or gonarthrosis) usually go to the doctor for severe pain when walking, and loss of mobility.
  • The hip is another frequently affected joint. This condition also goes by coxarthrosis, and patients experience pain, although not as severe as with gonarthrosis. However, the loss of mobility is way more pronounced; patients are even unable to dress in advanced stages. Coxarthrosis greatly increases the risk of hip fractures, so it usually requires surgery before knee arthrosis.
  • It also affects the spine. This condition can fall into two classifications: cervical osteoarthritis and lumbar arthritis. It all depends on what level the spine is damaged. Since surgeries in this area are much more complex, doctors usually try to slow down the progression of the disease.
  • The hands are another frequently affected area. On certain occasions, the disease can even cause deformities in the fingers. An example of this type of arthrosis is rizarthrosis.

Is physical activity compatible with arthrosis?

It’s normal for patients who face such a painful and limiting pathology such as arthrosis to ask this question. While the trend was to avoid physical exercise as much as possible to prevent the joints from swelling, we now know that this is actually counterproductive.

Numerous studies recommend moving as much as possible, within the capabilities of each individual. Exercise prevents the progression of the diseases.

Reasons why physical activity is good if you suffer from arthrosis

  • Physical exercise prevents degenerative processes such as osteopenia or osteoporosis. Both disorders consist of a loss of bone density, which shares a link to the degeneration of the articular cartilage and can trigger the appearance of arthrosis.
  • Furthermore, even if it produces friction between the bones, exercise can still reduce the systemic inflammatory response.
A group of older women doing physical activity to prevent and ease the symptoms of arthrosis

  • Physical activity helps to control body weight. Being overweight is an important factor in the development of arthrosis, especially in joints that bear heavy loads, such as the knees.
  • Finally, resistance exercises such as weighted squats can help strengthen the joints. Patients should perform them very carefully at certain stages of the disease. However, they can be very beneficial for the joints in the early stages.

Conclusion

Arthrosis is a frequent disease that comes with age, and it mainly affects people over 60 years of age. It can be a very limiting disease, so we must treat and prevent it early.

Physical activity is great to slow down the progress of arthrosis. It improves the symptoms, reduces arthritic pain, and allows the patient to have greater autonomy since it maintains the integrity of the joint for a longer time.

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