Does Walking Help If You Have Osteoarthritis (OA)?

By Dr. Caitlin Kenagy PT, DPT

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. It is a term used to describe a breakdown of the protective lining of a joint, leading to inflammation. It can occur within any joint of the body but is most commonly found in the knee and hip.

Who is affected by osteoarthritis?

It is estimated that 27 million Americans have some form of OA. Due to normal age-related changes within joints, it is commonly found in individuals over the age of 65.

How can a regular walking program benefit me?

Research shows that individuals who take more steps every day keep their joints working better than those who walk less. Other benefits of walking include:

  • Eases joint pain
  • Builds strong muscles and bones
  • Improves your ability to move
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight
  • Boosts energy levels

Walking Tips

  • Wear comfortable and supportive shoes.
  • Start slowly and increase your activity level slowly if you are new to a walking program. Doing too much too quickly can lead to increased pain.

When to see a physical therapist

  • If pain is keeping you from enjoying or participating in your walking routine.
  • If you are struggling with balance or feel unstable when walking.

What can physical therapy do for me?

  • Help reduce pain, inflammation, stiffness associated with OA.
  • Improve joint function by developing an individualized exercise program to help you with strength, flexibility, and balance.

References:

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