Reduce Orthopedic Arthritis Pain with a Few Simple Exercises

You can do orthopedic exercises for yourself at home – and reduce your arthritis pain safely and effectively. The following exercises for arthritis help patients to become stronger and more flexible, while increasing endurance and balance.

Resistance Training for Orthopedic Strength


Stronger muscles can act as ‘shock absorbers’ for your joints (just like the shocks in a truck). By lifting something heavier than the joint itself, you can improve strength. This can often be done using just your own body weight.

Squats

To build the strength of your quadriceps (thigh muscles), you can do simple squats out of a chair:

  • Sit in a chair
  • Lean forward
  • Stand up

For a variation that strengthens the same muscles, you can lean against a wall with knees slightly bent. Hold this position for 10 seconds, stand up, rest a bit and repeat!

Stretching to Improve Flexibility

Everyone knows stretching is good for our bodies, but many think of Cirque du Soleil when discussing flexibility. Even a small increase in stretching can prevent orthopedic problems like arthritis from progressing and can help the pain. It can be done whenever you think about it. A good stretch begins by moving the joint to a position where you feel that it has been stretched, hold for 10 seconds and then push very slightly more. Heating before stretching and then icing afterwards helps as well.

 

Sample Exercise: Hip and Knee Stretch

You may only be able to reach your knees when you begin; even moving to the mid-calf will be great for arthritis in the hips and knees.

  1. Sit on the floor and reach for your toes until you feel a comfortable stretch.
  2. Hold for 10 seconds
  3. Push slightly more into the stretch
  4. Release

 

Aerobic Exercise for Endurance

Motion is key to orthopedic health. Joints that do not move will deteriorate and become even more arthritic joints. Low impact aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, and bicycling will strengthen your heart and lungs, allowing you added energy throughout the day. Endurance depends on how much oxygen gets to the muscles and joints, and how the muscles and joints use that oxygen.

Sample Exercise: Walk

The impact of running will negatively affect your arthritic joints, but walking will not and actually helps the joints. Walking for 20-30 minutes at least three times a week is recommended.

Balance for Even Weight Distribution

Balance involves the ability to maintain one position for a long time without falling. It is a variation of endurance, and improves with better strength and flexibility. Balance is very important for joints as it allows for an even distribution of weight. When weight is evenly distributed then cartilage is not as easily damaged (causing orthopedic ailments such as arthritis). Yoga and Tai chi are both good ways to improve balance, and reduce the rates of hip and wrist fractures.

Sample Exercise: Tree Pose (Yoga)

  1. Stand on one leg
  2. Place the sole of the other foot on the standing calf, making sure to not let it rest on a joint like the knee or ankle
  3. Focus on a spot on the wall and hold still
  4. Leave the toe of the other foot on the ground and place the heel against the ankle

By doing these few simple exercises in a short amount of time at home, you can gain relief from the pain and discomfort of arthritis.

Incorporate this routine and other simple exercises (as recommended by your physical therapist or orthopedic doctor) into a regular, daily routine to experience greater strength, endurance, and flexibility for improved health and movement!

Use our Bone + Joint Health Multi to improve joint function and holistically reduce inflammation naturally over time! This multi contains surgeon-curated ingredients handpicked to improve your musculoskeletal health, fill gaps in your diet, and reduce pain + inflammation throughout your body.

The Stages of Ankle Arthritis

close-up-shot-womans-feet-and-anklet

Ankle arthritis can be painful, but the key is to understand what stage it is in so you can treat it quickly.


The ankle is a critical joint in our bodies. Not to say that other joints are less critical, but the ankle is a meeting point for cartilage, connective tissues, and tendons. The ankle is the lowest main meeting point of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments used for walking, running and jumping. It is essential for force and speed. The downside to its importance is that all the force of these muscles and tendons around the ankle area makes the cartilage prone to damage, also known as arthritis. Cartilage coats the surface of a joint to allow motion when damaged, this is why movement becomes painful and less smooth.

Arthritis is a degenerative disease so, the longer you wait, the worse it gets. Medical professionals can determine your stage of arthritis and treat it, but there are some steps you can take to help alleviate and articulate the problem before it becomes too much to handle.

The early stage of ankle arthritis.

In healthy ankles, cartilage covers the joints to protect them from friction. In ankles that are developing arthritis, this cartilage begins to wear down, therefore enabling the formation of pitting and irregularities of the surface. This is considered the early stages of ankle arthritis and is characterized by an uncomfortable or stiffening sensation in the ankle after a long day of walking or several hours of sitting.

The early stage can be a problematic one, as this pain is hard to distinguish from regular discomfort. To remedy this stage of ankle arthritis, take some anti-inflammatory NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen – if you aren’t allergic. Pair with this supportive footwear, low-impact activity, and a healthy, active lifestyle. Low impact aerobic activity has been shown to be best for cartilage health. Note that no activity is not good for cartilage.

Mid-Stage Ankle Arthritis

Later, bone spurs develop in response to abnormal cartilage. Thus, this is the stage where you will begin to realize some discomfort and pain that may not be normal. Symptoms will become more noticeable, as you’ll experience varying levels of pain throughout the day that comes in waves, as well as occasional swelling. Occasional rest and off-loading of the ankle may become necessary at this point. Doing so can help in the short term. However, for long-term solutions, it is better to stay somewhat active to keep your muscles strong so that they can support the ankle joint.

One remedy to this stage of arthritis, continue to take NSAIDs, do low-impact exercise, and meet with an orthopedic surgeon to determine the next steps. At this stage, surgery may be considered to remove spurs, clean up joins or stabilize or realign the ankle. Bracing and graded socks are often helpful. Rocker bottom shoes also and topical pain methods may also help with this.

End-Stage Ankle Arthritis

The late stages of ankle arthritis are when the cartilage around the joint is almost entirely gone, leaving very little space between the bones, inhibiting motion. This may be true for all or just a portion of the joint. Spurs can be quite large as well. At this stage, the ankle will be incredibly stiff and sometimes completely immobile.

Simple activities like ascending/descending stairs and squatting can become impossible. In the later stages, the lubricating fluid in your joints is absent, so the friction on your bones is increased. Moving at this stage may be painful and could also be damaging to your bones. However, many people can remain high-functioning and relatively pain-free, despite this arthritis. To treat this stage of arthritis, previous remedies (such as NSAIDs and light activity) may not be enough. If you’re at this stage and the pain is affecting your daily life, contact an orthopedic surgeon immediately, as surgery could likely be needed.

Your surgeon could also recommend a series of nonoperative remedies as well. These could range from physical therapy to acupuncture, to special shoes or CAM (complementary alternative medicine).

Arthritis is a painful disease that can get worse the longer you ignore it. Identifying that the pain or discomfort is in fact arthritis is an important step, and seeking help before symptoms worse is crucial. Sometimes, our joints are sore, stiff, and hurt a little, especially at older ages.

What is Ankle Arthritis?

The manifestation of ankle arthritis causes as much psychological and physical damage to the body as does the arthritis of the knee, hip, and back. In addition, we now know that ankle arthritis also causes as many functional limitations as does arthritis of the knee and hip.

However, ankle arthritis is only recently being recognized nationally as an actual pain source and entity worthy of treatment. Ankle arthritis has been considered secondary to hip and knee arthritis for a while.

Dr. Warner has been treating ankle arthritis for over a decade and is up to date on all cutting-edge treatments.

An unstable ankle due to ligament damage (sprains) that heal improperly can cause enough shear force to an ankle to produce arthritis. Also, a previous break/fracture will have abnormal motion if it is not repaired anatomically and that leads to abnormal forces on the cartilage; thus arthritis develops. It is very important that ankle fractures be corrected with exquisite attention to detail and anatomy.

The ankle is a small and perfectly shaped joint; it was not designed with the same amount of give and play that the knee and hip have. Therefore, fractures of the ankle have many more long-term consequences with regard to arthritic change.

Fractures that cause significant cartilage damage lead to ankle arthritis.

More often, fractures that heal poorly or heal in a poor position lead to arthritis. This is because even a 1mm shift in the ankle joint surface can dramatically increase the contact pressures inside the joint and cause chondral damage (arthritis). Again, this is not true for the hip and knee.

A mal-united fracture can be corrected to either prevent or treat arthritis. If you have an old fracture that has healed in a bad position, there are a number of treatment options available to correct that problem.

 

Causes of Ankle Arthritis

About 1% of the adult population has ankle arthritis. Of those, 80% are post-traumatic in nature. The ankle is different than most joints in that the arthritis is typically due to trauma. Most other joints, such as the hip, knee, and back have degeneration as the primary source of arthritis. The ankle breaks down and becomes arthritic after either a fracture (broken ankle) or due to sprains and ligament damage. For post-traumatic arthritis to occur, the actual bony plate that the cartilage sits upon must break as well as the cartilage itself.

Most cases of late ankle arthritis also have an alignment problem; that is, the ankle is in a varus or valgus position (tipped inward or outward). The mal-positioning of an ankle increases abnormal forces and also instability at times; this is associated with arthritis and pain. Any treatment plan should include a correction to normal alignment. If your treatment plan for ankle arthritis does not, ask your doctor if he or she has considered that.

 

Diagnosis Process

Pain is often associated with arthritis. However, some people with arthritis have no pain at all; it is not predictable who will have pain or who won’t. Many times other factors play into the perceived pain beyond the actual arthritis that is present. Ankle arthritis is no exception to the association of arthritis and pain; typically ankle arthritis hurts during activity (work, walking, running, etc.). Occasionally pain occurs with changes in the weather or after activity. Sometimes pain is spontaneous. There is a genetic predisposition to chronic pain related to arthritis. Cartilage itself has no nerve endings and arthritis in and of itself cannot be painful.

The pain that is associated with arthritis is typically due to associated damage to the bone that the cartilage sits upon, the synovial tissue or joint capsule and the ligaments around the ankle. In addition, the muscles of the leg can hurt, as can the nerves that surround the joint. The inflammatory fluids that are released due to the inflammation can sensitize nerves; this may contribute to pain as well. It is important that the actual source of pain be recognized prior to beginning or selecting any treatment method.

Just because there is the presence of arthritis on an X-ray and the pain is at that joint does not necessarily mean that there may not be another source of pain. Diagnosis of actual pain source should be mandatory prior to any surgical intervention.

5 Natural Tips To Help Reduce Arthritis Pain

Arthritis is a painful condition in the joints that causes inflammation, stiffness and most of all pain.  As we age, these conditions become worse due to wear and tear on our joints, and managing the pain and related symptoms can become even more of a challenge.

For those who are dealing with arthritis related pain, managing the pain can be a major concern.  Fortunately, there are several factors that we can directly control that can help reduce inflammation and pain overall.  While these tips won’t eliminate your arthritis, they can help you to better manage the pain you feel on a daily basis.

HOT AND COLD THERAPY TO REDUCE ARTHRITIS PAIN

Remember those days when you’d play catch and wind up with a sore shoulder? Your mother likely told you to “throw some ice on it.”  When pain strikes, one of the first things many people do is grab the heating pad.

Hot and cold therapy helps reduce arthritis pain and while it’s a very temporary solution, it does actually work!  Simply taking a warm bath and applying a heating bad while watching TV can help to ease stiffness in your joints, while an ice pack can help to relieve joint pain after a long day.  When you’re looking to loosen up in the morning look to heat, but when you need a quick bit of pain relief, grab an ice pack and give yourself a break.

GET ACTIVE AND START EXERCISING

Just about any major life problem can be solved in one way or another through exercise.  It helps you control your weight, gives you more energy and overall just improves your quality of life.  While intense sprinting exercises or body building may be out of the question, low impact type exercises like swimming and walking allow you to move freely and to move your joints with little resistance.  Looking for something a bit more involved? Try out yoga! Dr. Meredith Warner always recommends yoga to her patients.

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR DIET

Our diets have a much bigger impact on our quality of life than most of us realize or care to admit.  The foods we eat provide our bodies with the energy we need, and the vitamins and minerals we need to thrive.  Avoid fast food, foods with high sodium content and inflammatory foods to help reduce arthritis symptoms.  Also, including the right fatty acids in your diet can not only help with pain relief but are known to have similar effects as NSAIDs.

Foods that cause inflammation

Try to avoid or limit these foods as much as possible:

  • refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
  • margarine, shortening, and lard

Anti-inflammatory foods

An anti-inflammatory diet should include these foods:

  • tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
  • nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
  • fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges

BE MINDFUL OF YOUR WEIGHT

This tip takes into account exercise and diet, as they both play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy weight.  As the numbers on the scale begin to rise, the amount of stress that is placed on our joints increases as well.  With arthritis already causing significant joint pain, keeping your weight under control can help reduce the chance of worsening this pain.

Keep it simple. You don’t have to run a marathon every day to be healthy. Simple, daily choices to move more by walking a little further in a parking lot or stretching before bed will pay big dividends over time.

YOU CAN DO IT!!!

Arthritis Pain with Hemp Oil

OTHER NATURAL ANTIOXIDANTS FOR SUPPORT WITH PAIN RELIEF

One natural herb that is gaining a lot of attention in the public and scientific forums, is hemp, Cannabidiol. It has none of the psychoactive properties found in THC. There is growing evidence to support the use of hemp for its high antioxidant contents and its ability to interact with the system of cell receptors in your body, called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which spreads throughout connective tissues and even into your organs.  Many people have found success over the long term by introducing a hemp products into their wellness routine.