GSA Publication Promotes Mobility for Osteoarthritis Patients

Author:  Todd Kluss
A structured physical activity program can help maintain mobility for older people who have osteoarthritis, according to the latest edition of the What’s Hot newsletter from The Gerontological Society of America (GSA).

Reducing the Risk of Mobility Disability in Older Adults with Osteoarthritis,” as the issue is titled, points out that maintaining mobility is not only a crucial component of healthy aging — often yielding physical and psychosocial benefits — but it also is fundamental to the management of osteoarthritis.

“The new What’s Hot is extremely helpful for providers and patients alike,” said GSA President Barbara Resnick, PhD, CRNP, who served on the publication’s advisory board. “It provides evidence based approaches and solutions to management of osteoarthritis. Specifically there is guidance for what to do to manage pain and optimize function and mobility.”

She added that exercise is critical to the process, despite the fact that it may seem counterintuitive to increase physical activity when suffering from the pain of osteoarthritis.

“In fact, we know this is the best way to overcome the pain and optimize function,” Resnick said. “This publication helps guide the providers and patients towards the type of exercises that they can do safely and that will provide benefit immediately and over time.”

Osteoarthritis, sometimes referred to as degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis and currently affects over 30 million adults in the U.S. It is the country’s fifth leading cause of physical disability and its prevalence is increasing due to the aging of the population and growing obesity epidemic. It is progressive disease that results from localized loss of cartilage, remodeling of adjacent bone, and associated inflammation. Osteoarthritis results in pain, stiffness, swelling, and decreased range of motion. The most commonly affected joints are the knees, followed by the hands and hips.

The newsletter states that both nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic approaches to the management of osteoarthritis — best done in conjunction with a team of health professionals — are important for providing holistic patient treatment and improving quality of life. Further, it recommends that the use of such therapies should be optimized prior to considering surgical interventions. A holistic approach to patients that addresses the range of patient needs and barriers, it argues, can help minimize pain and disability, and improve quality of life.

This issue of What’s Hot was produced with support from Sanofi Biosurgery. It can be downloaded at