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How do you slow down the progression of arthritis?

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

This is a good basic reader question, on a topic I haven’t written much about:

Q. What is the least bad option to follow for someone who suffers from moderate (and progressing) knee osteoarthritis?

A. Mainly exercise in the Goldilocks zone. Be diligent about always getting enough, but never too much either. Use it or lose it.

More generally, put a strong focus on overall health and fitness, because we now know that osteoarthritis isn’t a “wear and tear” disease per se (Lo, Ponzio) but probably the result of biological vulnerability and systemic inflammation (Wallace, Kluzek). For instance, we know that obese people get more osteoarthritis of the hand, but probably not because they are walking on their hands (Jiang). Take two people with the same mechanical stress on the knee and it’ll probably be the borderline diabetic who gets the knee osteoarthritis first.

So to impede the progress of arthritis, you try to be as healthy and fit as possible.

Arthritis has always been of professional interest to me as it relates to patellofemoral syndrome, and I’m always collecting references and taking mental notes on the topic. Eventually I’ll publish a general guide to osteoarthritis.

Quirky addendum: Netflix has a great show called “The OA,” which is what the protaganist calls herself — a strange name? or title? — for reasons that remain unclear. Medical jargon and acronyms are so embedded in my brain that every time I hear it, my brain says: “Huh? The osteoarthritis?”

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