Community Exercise for Arthritis

Exercise Reduces Pain And Improve Function In Patients With Arthritis

As we discussed in our last blog, arthritis is a major healthcare issue in the U.S. Of the roughly 59 million adults who have arthritis, nearly half—or 26 million—report that their condition makes daily activities more difficult. As a result, many of these individuals’ quality of life is negatively affected, making arthritis a pressing concern for them.

Research has also shown that arthritis-related disability does not impact all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups equally. According to recent statistics, more than half of low-income adults and about two-thirds of those living near the poverty line are negatively affected in their daily lives due to arthritis, compared to about 30–40% of wealthier individuals. In addition, about 60% of American Indian and Alaskan Natives experience arthritis-related limitations, compared to only about 40% of White individuals and about half of all other racial and ethnic groups.

One way to help individuals that are more likely to be physically impaired from arthritis—chiefly lower-income individuals and persons of American Indian/Alaskan Native descent—is through a targeted approach. This type of approach aims to identify at-risk patients, encourage them to seek out treatment, and then manages them appropriately. Physical therapists, for example, are movement experts who frequently treat arthritis patients with comprehensive treatment programs that feature exercise, education, and other interventions intended to alleviate pain and improve function.

Exploring the role community exercise in patients with arthritis
Understanding the value of a targeted treatment approach, researchers conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate the effects of community exercise on pain and physical function in adults with arthritis and fibromyalgia. A meta-analysis is a study that collects and assesses all available research on a particular topic to obtain a comprehensive overview of the effectiveness of a particular intervention. In this meta-analysis, researchers identified 33 relevant studies on 3,180 adults with arthritis and fibromyalgia who underwent an exercise program delivered in their community. Of the exercise programs analyzed, most included both aerobic and strengthening exercises, while some focused on either aerobic or strengthening exercises alone.

Results showed that these community-delivered exercise programs significantly reduced pain and improved physical function in adults with arthritis or fibromyalgia. These findings were further strengthened by a lack of bias observed by researchers in these studies, and the fact that similar results were obtained when analyzed at both the study and group level. Finally, results from a test called the intention-to-treat analysis indicated not only that exercise was effective, but that it would also be effective in a real-world setting.

This study is important because it highlights how a targeted approach with a community-based exercise program can help patients with arthritic conditions improve. Physical therapists prescribe these types of interventions and promote exercise- and movement-based strategies for patients with impaired mobility due to arthritis. Therefore, if arthritis is currently interfering with your ability to complete normal daily activities, we strongly encourage you to contact Bacci & Glinn Physical Therapy at 559-733-2478 (Visalia) or 559-582-1027 (Hanford) to learn more or to schedule an appointment today.

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