New research has published shows that muscle atrophy (wasting) leads to muscles weakness and this is a major symptom of osteoarthritis.
Obviously if a limb is weak then it causes you problems everyday. For example ask anyone with hand OA to undo a jar or someone with knee osteoarthritis to get out of a chair. They struggle. Normal everyday tasks become an uphill battle.
But does this muscle wasting and weakness have other ongoing effects?
This research which will be published in Arthritis Care and Research has found that the reason the person finds these tasks difficult is because they have muscle wasting which causes weakness. They conclude:
Individuals with hip OA experience generalised lower limb weakness primarily due to reduction in muscle size (muscle atrophy).
What they didn’t discover this was because either
1. It was a factor that caused the osteoarthritis
2. Whether it occurred because of the osteoarthritis.
Problems of Muscle Weakness as a Symptom of Osteoarthritis
This doesn’t simply cause day to day problems as I talked about above but it leads to the following as well:
1. The muscle weakness will almost certainly not occur in a balanced way all around the joint. Instead some muscle groups will weaken more that others. This will lead to increased stress on the joint, making it wear even faster so increasing the rate of degeneration.
2. If you get to the point where you need surgery then the rehab is longer and the outcome less favorable if there is muscle weakness. Please read this article for more information about the need for pre-hab exercises before replacement surgery.
So add this to the day to day problems and muscle wasting and weakness is a major problem for anyone with osteoarthritis in any joint both now and in the future.
How Can You Prevent or Reverse Muscle Weakness?
There is only one answer- exercises. Now I do not mean general exercise like walking or swimming. Although that is good for your general health it will not prevent or reverse muscle weakness in a particular joint.
You need to do a targeted set of exercises for that particular joint. It must be designed for how much muscle weakness you already have and how much degeneration you have in your joint. A fit all program may not be suitable for you and could make you symptoms worse.
It is why I designed the Joint Control Exercise program and wrote How to Treat Osteoarthritis Naturally. I know how different people feel and how their quality of lives are improved by improving their flexibility and strengthening their muscles. You can read the testimonials for doing exercises for osteoarthritis here.
You can overcome this symptom of osteoarthritis so simply with a modicum of effort. You can have a better life now and you may decrease the rate of degeneration. Check out these exercise program specifically for osteoarthritis to find out how easy it is.