If you have osteoarthritis (OA), your doctor should have mentioned that exercise is a good idea. But did that actually happen? And, if so, did your provider give you any additional details about how, when, and why you should be active?

Many OA patients “are confused about the cause of their pain, and bewildered by its variability and randomness. Without adequate information and advice from health care professionals, people do not know what they should and should not do, and, as a consequence, avoid activity for fear of causing harm.” That’s the conclusion of a recent Cochrane Review on exercise and hip and knee OA.

The authors analyzed data from 21 earlier trials and determined that people who participated in exercise experienced slight improvements in pain, mobility, depression, and the ability to connect with others.

In 12 of the 21 trials, participants shared feedback on how exercise interventions could be improved. Their key requests: “provide better information and advice about the safety and value of exercise; provide exercise tailored to individual’s preferences, abilities and needs; challenge inappropriate health beliefs and provide better support.”

The takeaway is that many doctors might need to do a better job of emphasizing exercise, which might entail referring more patients to a physical therapist. If your doctor doesn’t bring up the topic, ask. A physical therapist should not only work with you during your sessions but also teach you exercises that can do on your own at home several times a week.

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