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Arthritis is a health condition that becomes more common with age, with approximately 47% of adults 65 and older being diagnosed with arthritis. It can feel overwhelming to be diagnosed with arthritis, as it comes with physical pain and concerns about how it may limit future activities. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease affecting the hands, hips, and knees. This is different from rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease and inflammatory condition.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and instability when walking. A doctor will diagnose osteoarthritis through a physical exam, blood work, and x-rays. Dr. Grace Wright emphasizes the importance of not stopping all forms of physical activity when diagnosed with osteoarthritis, as this can lead to muscle weakness and lack of support around the joints. Instead, it is important to exercise safely and support joint health through activities like core-strengthening exercises, walking, cycling, and yoga.

Dr. Zeba Faroqui advises against high-impact exercises that can worsen osteoarthritis in weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips. She recommends avoiding activities like running on uneven ground, basketball, soccer, and football. However, not exercising at all can also worsen osteoarthritis, while as little as one to two hours of exercise a week can improve symptoms. Lifestyle adjustments, including weight loss for those with obesity, can also help reduce arthritis symptoms.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis can start in a person’s 30s, so it is important to see a doctor if experiencing any pain, especially if arthritis runs in the family. Dr. Wright emphasizes the need to find a balance between staying active and avoiding activities that can exacerbate arthritis symptoms. Engaging in safe and supportive exercises, under the guidance of a healthcare provider, can help improve osteoarthritis symptoms and maintain mobility.

Being diagnosed with arthritis does not mean the end of movement and physical activity. By working closely with a doctor to determine the best exercise plan and treatment options, individuals with arthritis can manage their symptoms and maintain quality of life. It is essential to understand the type of arthritis one has, the causes of the condition, and the importance of supporting joint health through appropriate exercise and lifestyle adjustments.

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