You may wonder; Is a lack of flexibility truly an inevitable occurrence with the advanced aging? This certainly appears to be the case, as one of the sources of the stigma accompanying old age is the creaking joints and thrown-out hip or back. The pain that comes with these conditions is often no joke, as even at a relatively low level they can get in the way of a lot of the functionality that one would like to still enjoy at that age. Pain isn’t just about a physical sensation, after all – practically speaking, it’s also about the changes you make to your life, to your interactions, to your activity, in order to accommodate it or try and get it to ease up. Thus, joint pain is an area we most certainly find front and center as we age.
While some look at the coming years with trepidation because of the nigh-certain need to drastically cut down on said activity to avoid the pain, and some others resign themselves to the possibility of medical procedures and painkilling medication, it might come as a comfort to realize that joint pain is actually not inevitable with advancing age. And in the event that it does arrive, it’s crucial to avoid simply going with an armchair diagnosis.
Right Diagnosis – An important aspect of dealing with joint pain in ways that don’t put you at risk has to do with something as simple as getting the right diagnosis. Arthritis, for instance, is a common ailment usually associated with advanced age – but to call it a simple diagnosis might be leaving out a lot. There are actually over 100 recognized forms of arthritis, and the right diagnosis is important to getting the right treatment.
Other Conditions – One other important reason to ensure you get the right diagnosis is that you may have other conditions that either aggravate or lead to the main condition. Gout, for instance, is actually a form of arthritis that can eventually lead to osteoarthritis. Joint pain can even result from other conditions entirely – instead of arthritis, it might be cancer that has spread to the joints.
What can one do to stem the impact of joint pain if and when it does come? Some simple lifestyle changes can actually go a long way toward reducing this impact, especially if done before one gets to the particular age at when the problems tend to surface.
1. Lose Weight – A lot of joint pain comes from the fact that our joints tend to be expected to hold up our entire body weight, and not just in a stationary position. Walking, sitting, running, jumping, climbing stairs, or even getting out of bed – name an activity that is as active as the term suggests but does not require our joints, if you can. Simply reducing the weight that the joints need to carry can go a long way toward helping them stay solid for longer. Obesity is also a risk factor for conditions like osteoarthritis, so avoiding getting to that level is sure to help.
2. Exercise – Raise your hand if you’re not surprised to see this here. Exercise does more than help people fit into outfits they want to wear – exercise has a continuous effect on the human body, and conditioning muscles and body parts is but one of the most important benefits. Some may find themselves in need of a physical therapist who can help them design workouts that fit their capabilities and deliver what they need. This is a good thing, as a physical therapist can identify exercises that can increase range of motion, flexibility and endurance. Notably, pain victims tend to fall into a vicious cycle where the pain they suffer keeps them from exercising, resulting in the loss of these three aspects of muscle and joint health. Coming out ahead of that and building them up is only smart.
3. Exercise More – Don’t just go with the usual reps and workouts. Consider the pool or the road. The pool lets you swim, which is great for muscle conditioning with much less impact thanks to the relative weightlessness of the water experience. The road will let you jog or bike, which can contribute to endurance if you’re up to it.
4. Quit Smoking – for joint health? Yes. Research shows that smoking has adverse effects on both one’s bone health and the effectiveness of the treatment they receive.
5. Pick The Right Shoes – Surprisingly, this has a lot to do with joint health overall, and not just the joints that go in them. Choose shoes that give you a lot of support, and that allow your feet to move as naturally as possible. This will help reduce the potential problems encountered by the joints above your feet, as these problems can arise from unnatural or unhealthy positioning.
6. Don’t Self-Medicate – Managing joint pain is important and while yes, painkillers and NSAIDs may be advisable in some cases, don’t do the advising yourself. NSAIDs may be nonsteroidal, but if they don’t agree with your constitution the side effects can be quite nasty – internal bleeding and actually interfering with the repair process are just some. Seniors in particular will need to be monitored for any liver and kidney problems, or any change in blood pressure as they are under medication. There are many alternatives to drugs, such as natural remedies involving turmeric and garlic, or hot and cold therapy. Consulting with a physician is the best move.
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