Picture: Arthritis Foundation

Research shows that it is safe to exercise with severe arthritis. 

When people with severe or bone-on-bone arthritis followed these two simple pain rules, 95% of all exercise sessions were performed with acceptable pain, and pain was relieved after a few weeks.

In a recent study of people with mostly severe arthritis who fulfilled all the criteria to have a knee replacement op, participants received information on arthritis and its treatments, including self-help advice. 

They also took part in supervised exercise sessions twice weekly for eight weeks, and saw a dietitian if they were overweight.

Half of the participants were randomised to have their knee replaced. Among those not having their joint replaced immediately, only a quarterchose to have their joint replaced within a year. 

In other words, the pain relief that people experienced as a result of the exercise was enough for three-quarters of the participants to delay surgery for at least a year.

Exercise, especially when supervised, provides effective pain relief, but requires physical effort and sweat. Passive treatments, such as manual therapy, deep tissue massage and muscle stretches, given by a physiotherapist, doesn’t seem to work for people with hip or knee pain.