When motion hurts, orthopedic issues may be to blame. If you’re struggling with chronic or acute joint pain and stiffness, you’re probably either worried about relying on painkilling medications or dissatisfied with the benefits you receive from those medications. At the same time, however, you may be hoping for a solution that doesn’t involve major surgery. In that case, you’ll be happy to learn that exercise can help you get a grip on that orthopedic pain problem.
The Mechanics Behind Joint Pain
Your body has many different kinds of joints. Joints that use only cartilage or fibrous tissue to connect bones allow for little to no movement. Synovial joints make use of muscles, tendons, and ligaments to bend or move your elbows, shoulders, knees, lower jaw, fingers, back, neck, toes, hands and feet. Unfortunately, the many components that make up these complex joints also allow for mechanical problems that produce pain. Some of the more common examples include:
Acute strains and sprains: When a joint experiences sudden hyperextension or other extreme stress, the tendons and muscles may tear (a strain) or the ligaments may suffer damage (a sprain).
Dislocation: Sometimes an accident or other high-impact event can cause bones to completely lose their relative position in a joint.
Tendinitis: Chronic stress on tendons can cause them to suffer numerous tiny tears that never quite heal. This can lead to a state of chronic inflammation.
Bursitis: Many joints have fluid-filled sacs called bursae that reduce friction between joint components. But these sacs can become inflamed by friction themselves.
Arthritis: Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are just two of the more common forms of this painful degenerative joint problem.
Overuse injuries: Excessive repetitive motion can cause a joint to become chronically painful and stiff.
The Role of Therapeutic Exercise
When everyday motion causes pain, the thought of increasing that motion to reduce the pain sounds counterintuitive. But the right exercises can actually ease orthopedic pain in a number of ways. For instance, painful instability in a knee joint can be associated with weakness in the muscles that support the knee or leg. Exercises such as bridges, clamshells, leg raises and quadruped hydrant exercises can help reduce stiffness and build the muscles that reinforce proper knee function.
Exercises can help you keep arthritic joints in optimal shape. Gentle stretching exercises can gradually help you increase your pain-free range of motion. Aerobic exercises such as walking can reduce joint pain while also helping you shed extra pounds (which can make a big difference for the weight-bearing joints). Swimming and cycling offer similar benefits for knee pain without placing weight on painful joints. Strength training can help the soft tissues in a joint support that joint more effectively, easing stress on the bones and cartilage.
Soft tissue pain such as strains and tendinitis generally require rest and/or physiotherapy before those tissues can be exercised safely. But once your orthopedic specialist gives you the go-ahead, gentle exercises can help you re-train and strengthen joints, protecting them against conditions such as tennis elbow.
Get Your Own Personal Pain Management Exercise Plan
Don’t try to concoct your own exercise plan for a nagging orthopedic pain issue. Some exercises might do more harm than good, while certain conditions may require surgery or other treatment techniques. Contact us here at Oasis Orthopedic and Spine Integrated Services to schedule a consultation with our orthopedic experts. We can present you with a customized, medically-supervised exercise plan that suits your specific needs.