Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Chapter 2: (Part1) Benefit and Risks of Exercise as an Arthritis Remedy

The Greek physician Hippocrates, in the fifth century B.C., first stated the principle implied in the popular dictum "Use it or lose it". Hippocrates wrote, "All parts of the body which have a function, if used in moderation and exercised in labours in which each is accustomed, become thereby healthy, well developed and age more slowly. But if unused and left idle, they become liable to disease, defective in growth, and age quickly".

Although this might strike contemporary readers as an astute observation, it was ignored for centuries. In fact, the medical community didn't give this notion much credence until 20th century, choosing instead to champion rest therapy as the ideal and only way to treat arthritis and many other ailments. Even gentle exercise was considered harmful.

That's not what the experts are saying now. For several decades, doctors have been prescribing stretching ("flexibility") exercise because they help preserve joint function in people with arthritis, and indeed, in all aging people. Muscle strengthening exercise are also recommended, provided they don't place too much stress on the joints. More recent evidence shows that regular aerobic exercise can also aid in arthritis rehabilitation.The Arthritis Foundation, among other authorities, currently approves exercise, provided the exercise regimen is tailored for each patient and is coupled with appropriate rest.


It's useful to analyze an arthritis rehabilitation programs in terms of its impact on the "the four Ds"-death, disability, discomfort (psychological as well as physical), and dollar cost. In this chapter I'll discuss how a safe and inexpensive exercise program can, without cause orthopedic injuries or other medical complications, help you live longer and prevent arthritis disability and discomfort. Keep in mind that the following discussion, as well as the exercise programs and Health Point System in subsequent chapter, applies primarily to person in classes 1 and 2 (and many in 3) of the functional capacity classification scheme shown in (Chapter 2 -Part 2). However, most of it is unlikely to apply to those of you in class 4. Such individual should not embark on the exercise programs I describe until their medical treatment and rehabilitation programs has moved them into class 3 or lower.

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