People with spine and joint pain often ask their doctors if they should be working through the pain, if they should they be working out, should they be taking it easy?

And in general, the answer is that joints need movement, the spines need movement in order to nourish them, in order to keep the muscles around them strong and limber, to take the pressure off them so they don't see the same forces. So it's very important that we stay active and that we keep on exercising.

And at the same time, while at the same time we accept a little bit of muscle pain as we get the muscles stronger, we really don't want to work through spine or joint pain. So if you're doing an exercise say for your knees or you're strengthening your quadriceps and you're having pain in your knee or your hip while you're doing these exercises, you'll want to back off of those exercises. What we want to do is work around the pain. We want to stay active. We want to make sure we target the appropriate muscles and get them stronger. But we want to do it in a way that's not going to provoke more pain.

And then slowly we can see if we can reintroduce some of those other exercise. But we always want to be cognizant that we want to work around the pain and not through it. Sometimes it's hard for a patent to distinguish is this muscle or joint pain that I'm experiencing. And when that's the case it's definitely important to ask somebody, to ask a qualified health professional, a physical therapist, a medical doctor, to get some guidance to make sure you're doing the right exercises and not causing more harm.

During exercise, muscle pain and aches can be normal. However, flaring joint pain should be a warning to avoid certain exercises. As a rule, while exercising with arthritis, focus on strengthening the appropriate muscles and exercise around the pain rather than through it.

Dr. Grant Cooper is a physiatrist with several years of clinical experience, specializing in the non-surgical treatment of spine, joint, and muscle pain. He is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of Princeton Spine and Joint Center and the Co-Director of the Interventional Spine Program. Dr. Cooper has authored and edited 15 books.