Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, joint pain and symptoms can be managed through treatment, lifestyle changes, and education.
While there are estimated to be more than 100 types of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form, affecting 32.5 million U.S. adults. Common symptoms of OA include:
- Joint pain — particularly the hips, knees, hands, and lower back
- Several minutes of stiffness or limited range of motion after getting out of bed or sitting for a long time
- Clicking or cracking sounds when a joint bends
- Mild swelling or tenderness in one or more joints
- Pain that is worse after activity or toward the end of the day
Stiffness, swelling, and pain in your joints from OA should not keep you from your favorite activities. There is a common myth that being active could make your joint pain symptoms worse, but the opposite is true. Surprisingly, doing simple exercises to keep your body moving can help reduce your pain and stiffness.
Low-impact activities can keep you moving and help build strength. Whatever you choose, start with just 10-15 minutes or less and build up your endurance over time. Try to exercise at least three times a week to get you on the road to less joint pain. Eventually, aim for exercising at least five days a week. Examples of joint-friendly activities include:
- Walking. Did you know that people who walk with a friend — human or pet — actually spend more time walking than those who go alone?
- Water exercise. Water aerobics or swimming can help build strength while relieving joint pain.
- Yoga. Build strength, improve flexibility, increase blood flow, and calm your mind with a gentle yoga session.
- Stretching and strengthening exercises. Regular stretching and strengthening will help improve your range of motion and strengthen your muscles.
Explore oaaction.unc.edu/jointpain to learn about treatment and lifestyle changes that can help you get moving on a path to less joint pain!