Less Exercise for Arthritis Patients

Middle-aged arthritis patients may need to give up their favorite physical activities to avoid surgery, according to orthopaedic surgeons.

At the 69th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in Dallas, Arlen Hanssen, M.D., from the Mayo Clinic, announced baby boomers can best manage arthritis by changing their lifestyle. Dr. Hanssen joins the growing number of orthopaedic surgeons who recommend arthritis patients give up activities like jogging and basketball instead of undergoing knee surgery. “Middle-aged patients who’ve had knee surgery recommended to them should try less aggressive alternatives first. They should choose different types of exercise,” advises Dr. Hanssen.

Knee surgery benefits younger patients, but researchers have found surgery is not as beneficial in 40- to 50-year olds. The main concern is the durability of an artificial replacement in an active, middle-aged patient. Younger patients are flexible enough to benefit from surgery and resume high levels of activity. Patients over 65 are also good candidates for surgery because most have already slowed down their activities. “A middle-aged person who loves singles tennis potentially risks repeat surgeries by putting their artificial knee through premature wear and tear,” says Dr. Hanssen. He recommends delaying surgery by switching from high-impact aerobic exercises and sports to activities that are easier on the joints. He suggests swimming, treadmill walking and biking.

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