Exercise May Reduce Pain in Older Patients

December 31, 2015

Researchers studied elderly patients with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions enrolled in an exercise program in order to test the idea that an exercise program could improve their mobility and enhance the overall health of the participants.

Pain in senior citizens can be decreased through exercise programs, according to findings presented at the American College of Rheumatology/ Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals 2015 annual meeting in San Francisco, CA

Researchers from the Hospital for Special Surgery studied 370 elderly Asian patients with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions enrolled in an exercise program in order to test the counterintuitive idea that an exercise program could improve their mobility and enhance the overall health of the participants.

The participants, mostly between the ages of 65 and 84 years, were recruited from the Chinatown and Flushing, Queens communities in New York City. A majority of the patients were female and a majority of the patients had a musculoskeletal conditions.

“Getting seniors to be active in any way will generally improve their quality of life and help them function better in their everyday activities,” rheumatologist Linda Russell, MD, explained in a press release. “People believe that if you have arthritis you shouldn’t exercise, but appropriate exercises actually help decrease pain.”

The exercise program was held weekly over eight weeks between September 2011 and July 2015 and was lead by bilingual, certified instructors. A total of 204 patients completed surveys prior to and after completing the exercise program.

The patients reported they experienced less pain and were better able to perform daily life activities after participating in the exercise program, the statement continued. Additionally, the patients said their muscle and joint pain was significantly reduced, by about a third.

After completing the participants completed the program, the researchers found that almost all of the patients (97 percent) believed the program reduced their stiffness, while 96 percent of the patients felt the program gave their more confident that exercise would not make their symptoms worse; and 95 percent of the participants felt their balance had improved.

The researchers also found that a majority of the patients (91 percent) felt the program reduced their levels of fatigue; a significant majority (88 percent) were able to climb several flights of stairs; two thirds were able to lift and carry groceries; and about two thirds could bend, kneel, or stoop.

“The study results indicate that the hospital’s Bone Health Initiative has a positive impact on the musculoskeletal health of the Asian senior population,” continued Huijuan Huang, MPA, program coordinator. “Providing free exercise programs to the community can play an important role in helping adults manage musculoskeletal conditions.”


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