Osteoarthritis and Exercise

Draft guidelines have just been published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence on treatment for Osteoarthritis with a steer away from pain medication such as paracetamol and opiods and towards exercise and weight-loss (if appropriate).

For those who  would like to read the whole thing then the draft can be found here


Osteoarthritis: assessment and management

Draft for consultation, April 2022

The part that is important (from an exercise point of view)

"Non-pharmacological management
Therapeutic exercise

1.3.1 Offer tailored therapeutic exercise to all people with osteoarthritis (for
example, local muscle strengthening, general aerobic fitness).

1.3.2 Consider supervised therapeutic exercise for people with osteoarthritis.

1.3.3 Advise people with osteoarthritis that joint pain may increase when they
start  therapeutic exercise.

Explain that:
doing regular and consistent exercise, even though this may initially
cause discomfort, will be beneficial for their joints

long-term adherence to exercise increases its benefits."


The bold is mine, it's normal to associate pain with harm and so trying to move away from this instinctive thought process that if it hurts it is doing me harm is not going to be easy (along with the caveat that no-one likes pain!) but hopefully these new (draft!) guidelines will reassure people.

Exercising the arthritic joint will ensure that the joint will not  lose range of movement and that moving through that joint and overloading the muscles will produce strength increases that will help with the pain.

Supervised exercise was likely to have greater benefit to people with osteoarthritis because it may increase adherence and social support so if you have been wondering where to start please do get in touch to see if one of my Strength and Balance classes are suitable for you.