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Does exercise worsen joint damage for people with psoriatic arthritis?

Joint pain

Synopsis

No, exercise will not worsen joint damage, but it is important to be careful when starting any new form of physical activity. Some high-impact exercises might not be suited for you, and it is crucial to let your trainer, coach or instructor know about your condition to avoid injuries. When properly done, exercise can have multiple health benefits for people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and/or psoriasis.

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Expert Answers

Dr. Ron Vender:

Before embarking in any aggressive exercise program, it is important to consult your primary care physician or joint specialist (rheumatologist). Exercise on a daily basis can actually improve joint symptoms associated with psoriasis commonly known as psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Always exercise in moderation without straining yourself. This will increase mobility and flexibility of the joints and muscles. Proper warm ups and cool downs are necessary. When using caution, further joint destruction or damaging the joints may be prevented. In addition, a personalized exercise program and a well-balanced diet can improve your overall health and may contribute to weight loss, improve cardiac status and positively affect mental health. 

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Simmie Smith:

No, but you need to find the right medication to reduce your inflammation to prevent injuries. Exercise is extremely beneficial to keep our bodies flexible, but it’s important to be mindful of the type of exercise you are doing to prevent injuries, especially when dealing with swollen joints. Finding the right type of activity is important and may require you to rotate the exercises to prevent overuse of the same joints. I started off with Pilates Reformer Training which helped me become stronger. I was later able to challenge myself to regularly attend bootcamp classes and incorporate other low impact exercises to keep my body moving. There are times I’m able to enjoy higher impact exercises when I’ve got my inflammation managed. The bootcamp classes allow me to enjoy low impact but resistance type training to keep my heart rate at an optimal level.

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Sandra Walsh:

No. Exercise is indeed recommended for people with psoriatic arthritis. It has been shown that exercise helps strengthen the surrounding muscles to relieve some of the pressure from the joint, improve range of motion, reduce joint pain and stiffness, improve endurance, and increase flexibility. Exercise is also beneficial for reducing stress, improving sleep, weight loss, improving your overall health, and reducing your chances of developing other comorbid conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
If you do not know how to safely start an exercise program or you have any concerns about exercise, you should consult your healthcare practitioner who may refer you to a specialist to get started. It is important that you do not injure yourself.
Here are some useful tips:
• Start slow and continue to build a routine that challenges your body but does not cause injury.
• Listen to your body and stop any activity that causes joint pain or discomfort.
• Find activities that you enjoy.
• Exercising with others can be more enjoyable for some people and help to keep you motivated.
• Depending on your symptoms and the joints being used, you may need to start with range of motion exercises and stretching.
• If you have very painful joints or are on the heavier side, you may benefit from pool exercises, preferably with warm water to soothe the joints.
• Low impact exercises with controlled movements are less likely to cause injury to joints especially for those with spinal involvement. These include pool exercise, yoga, Pilates, elliptical, treadmill, cycling, and walking.
• Aerobic exercise that gets your heart rate up should be done at least three times a week and strengthening exercises at least twice a week.
• Don’t forget to warm up before you start exercising and stretch after exercise which can help to prevent injury.

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Painful joints might hide something else

I want to know what it is