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According to a study published in the Journal Arthritis and Rheumatology, frequent knee pain was less likely to develop in people over 50 with arthritis who walked for exercise compared to those who did not walk. .
Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine looked at more than 1,200 people with arthritis who were part of the Osteoarthritis Initiative, a multi-year observational study where participants self-reported the amount of time they walked to do exercise.
They found that those who walked for exercise were 40% less likely to develop new frequent knee pain compared to non-walkers.
“When we looked at those who did not have regular knee pain at the start of the study, those who walked for exercise were LESS likely to develop regular knee pain compared to those who did not walk. Dr. Grace Hsiao-Wei Lo, assistant professor of immunology, allergy and rheumatology at Baylor, chief of rheumatology at Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and first author of the study, told Fox News.
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“These results are especially helpful for people who have radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis but don’t have daily knee pain,” said Lo, who is also a researcher at the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety at Baylor and the VA said in a statement about the research.
Lo told Fox News the results suggest, however, that once people have regular knee pain, those who walked for exercise had no more symptom resolution than those who didn’t.
“The idea here being that prevention is key,” Lo told Fox News. If you can catch people before they have regular symptoms and get them walking, it could be very helpful in preventing regular knee pain from developing. The opportunity could already be lost once the regular knee pain has already happened,” Lo said in the interview.
The investigator told Fox News that if you have knee pain every day, there are always benefits to walking. “If you already have daily knee pain, there could still be a benefit, especially if you have the type of arthritis where your knees are bowed,” she said in the statement.
Lo told Fox News that researchers also found that those who walked for exercise had less joint damage, based on X-ray results. Lo also said that 30% of people aged 60 or over have osteoarthritis of the knee, so “the public health implications of these findings are potentially significant.”
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It involves the “wear and tear” of the articular surfaces of the knee, physical therapists told Fox News. This can create inflammation around joint surfaces, erode cartilage and contribute to pain. Physical therapists told Fox News that the knee joint usually has a gap between the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (a calf bone) and is lined with cartilage. With arthritis, the space between the joint lines eventually becomes smaller and the cartilage is “worn away”, leaving the patient with a “bone on bone” scenario that is often associated with pain and potentially sets them up for joint replacement surgery. of the knee, explained the physiotherapists. at Fox News.
Lo said walking for exercise has other health benefits as well. These include better cardiovascular health and a lower risk of obesity, diabetes and certain cancers, which are why the CDC recommends physical activity, according to Lo. The study author also said that unlike medication, which often comes with a cost and potential side effects, walking is free and has minimal side effects.
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Edward Farrell, PT, MS, OCS, CSCS, is a board-certified physical therapist and orthopedic specialist at Physical Solutions in Long Island, NY, who was not part of the study but commented on the recent report to Fox News.
“Many times in my practice we come across people with minimal to moderate osteoarthritis who unfortunately become more sedentary due to certain pain,” Farrell told Fox News. “The result is potential weight gain, reduced cardiovascular health and, of course, joint stiffness and muscle weakness.”
Farrell, who is also a certified strength and conditioning trainer, said, “Often these patients feel that the involvement in self-care needs to be drastic; joining expensive gyms, buying elaborate home equipment, when sometimes the answer could be as simple as going out for a walk.
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Farrell also said it’s important to wear quality athletic shoes when walking and gradually increase short walks. The physiotherapist also advised that while walking is important, “building lower extremity strength and losing maybe five pounds can provide much needed relief.”
Fox News asked investigators what the average length of each walk was, but they said that information was not available. Health experts told Fox News that it’s important to consult your doctor before beginning any type of exercise regimen and see if walking is appropriate for your situation.
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