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24 Nov 2022

Exercise should be considered a core treatment for arthritis
BY Tom Walker

The guidance recommends offering tailored therapeutic exercise to all people with osteoarthritis

The guidance recommends offering tailored therapeutic exercise to all people with osteoarthritis
photo: Shutterstock/aleks333

Exercise should be considered as a core treatment for those suffering from arthritis caused by wear-and-tear.

New draft guidelines, published for the UK's National Health Service (NHS) by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), state that physical activity can ease pain and help individuals with osteoarthritis stay healthy.

The guidance recommends offering tailored therapeutic exercise to all people with osteoarthritis, specifically identifying local muscle strengthening and general aerobic fitness exercises as particularly effective.

A key to the success of physical activity was not simply to get people – and joints – moving, but the positive effect that exercise can have on arthritis sufferers who are overweight.

According to NICE, evidence generally shows that, for people with knee osteoarthritis, as weight loss increases, the benefits for quality of life, pain and physical function increase.

In its guidance to NHS healthcare workers and practitioners, NICE recommends that any prescribing of exercise should be accompanied by an explanation that physical activity might at first be painful – but that "it is worth it".

The guidance states: "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 – and that long-term adherence to exercise increases its benefits."

To read the full NICE guidance, click here.



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