Can you recommend some exercises for an elderly woman with osteoarthritis?
It is most important for patients of all ages to keep their arthritic joints as mobile as possible, and exercises specifically designed for the individual are therefore a vital part of any treatment program.
Exercises for arthritis should be performed regularly, every day. You may experience some pain as you put your joints through their paces, but if this pain lasts for more than 30 minutes after the exercise, you are probably doing too much and should ease off. Doing your exercises after heating the affected joints in a bowl of warm water or after a hot bath can often ease the discomfort and give a better range of movement.
The aim of any exercises in arthritis is to move the joint through its full range of movement (eg. bending a knee as much as possible and then straightening it as much as possible) several times. Once this is readily achieved it may be possible to add some light weights to make it harder to use the joint. This will strengthen the muscles around it. Always start with an easy exercise and slowly build up to harder ones.
Booklets containing exercise programs are also available from the Arthritis Foundation (listed in your capital city phone book). The best person to teach you the appropriate exercises is a physiotherapist. Physios can also give heat, interferential and other treatments to arthritic patients to help their arthritis further.