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Pain relief through exercise? Busy walks can make a difference: shots



Emma Dehne, who lives in Chapel Hill, NC, had debilitating knee pain from the age of 40 and was eventually diagnosed with osteoarthritis. At the time, it was very painful to climb stairs and sport seemed out of the question.

Eamon Queeney for NPR


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Eamon Queeney for NPR

Emma Dehne, who lives in Chapel Hill, NC, had debilitating knee pain from the age of 40 and was eventually diagnosed with osteoarthritis. At the time, it was very painful to climb stairs and sport seemed out of the question.

Eamon Queeney for NPR

For people with chronic pain, getting up, taking off and moving can be daunting. Some fear that physical activity will aggravate their pain. In fact, according to the researchers, the opposite is the case: the right kind of exercise can help alleviate pain.

Emma Dehne agrees today. Dehne, 44, lives in Chapel Hill, NC, and works as a clerk at the Executive Vice Chancellor office at the University of North Carolina. She says her commitment to exercise is relatively young.

A year and a half ago, Dehn avoided as much as any physical activity she did not have to do. Just climbing stairs was painful – "sometimes to the point where I had to hold onto the railing to get up," she says, "and I could not even stretch my leg." Sometimes it felt like the ligaments were "tearing" in her knees.