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This Morning: Dr Ellis on how exercise can help arthritis

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People may be put off visiting their GP for a variety of reasons – perhaps you believe you can manage just fine with that niggling health problem, maybe it’s hard to get an appointment, or you just don’t have the time. “Some types of arthritis require prompt action,” urged the Arthritis Foundation. Effectively managing the disease in the early stages can help preserve joint function.

Any “joint symptoms” that linger for three days or more warrant a chat with your GP – this is the first key moment to take action.

What classifies as joint symptoms?

  • Pain, swelling, or stiffness in one or more joints
  • Joints that are red or warm to the touch
  • Joint tenderness or stiffness
  • Difficulty moving a joint or doing daily activities

If the joint issues aren’t consistent, but you’ve had several episodes within one month, that’s your second key moment – book an appointment with your GP.

The debilitating progression of disease

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis that can lead to “severe pain”.

The protective cartilage inside the joint breaks down, which can make movement difficult and painful.

Three factors that increase the likelihood of osteoarthritis include:

  • Middle age or beyond
  • Injury
  • Obesity

The most commonly affected joints include the hands, cymbalta beer knees, hips, lower back and neck.

One auditory clue you may have osteoarthritis is if you hear “clicking or cracking sounds” when a joint bends.

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Joint instability might occur, which may cause the knee to suddenly buckle and give way.

As the disease progresses, cartilage may develop uneven edges and crack, and bones may harden and change shape.

People with this type of arthritis are 30 percent more likely to fall and have a 20 percent greater risk of fractures.

While there is no cure for the condition, medication, surgery, strengthening exercises and weight loss can all help to minimise symptoms.

How do strengthening exercises help with osteoarthritis?

Strengthening exercises build muscles around painful joints, helping to ease the stress on them.

Strength exercises

To improve muscle tone, two to three weight-training session each week are needed.

Each session should last between 20 to 30 minutes, and it’ll take around four to 12 weeks to start noticing the benefits.

Arthritis Foundation continued to say that most people can increase their muscle strength by 40 percent or more within six weeks of strength training.

What to do in weight training exercises?

This will involve the use of dumbbells to slowly lift and lower the arms, for example.

Make sure not to fully straighten the elbows when performing this movement.

Good breathing technique is essential – breathe out while lifting and breathe in when lowering the dumbbell.

More arthritis-friendly strength training techniques can be found on YouTube.

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