How to Ease Common Age-related Aches and Pains
Do you suffer from occasional aches and pains? Welcome to the club. At our age, that is expected.
But they should not be dismissed as part of growing old, especially if they are chronic (lasting more than three months), without referring them to a doctor.
Neither should it be a reason for becoming a drug dependent or an addict.
Yes, they can affect your daily activities. They may even confine you to bed for days on end. But be very careful in choosing how to ease them. The cure you may use may be far worse than the pain you are suffering from.
Many seniors realize this too late. They resorted to drugs to relieve their aches and pains, unwittingly contributing to the growing menace of elderly drug addiction.
Now they face only two choices – sink deeper into more drugs, or suffer the pains of a withdrawal. Either way is bad news for elderly people.
So before you fall for the siren’s song of pharmaceutical companies, understand your aches and pains, observe their triggers. Study them. The Internet is a bottomless repository of information about anything and everything. Use it.
That’s how I cured the excruciating pain in my left leg two years ago. For two months I limped with a cane, unable to walk a certain distance without leaning on a wall to rest. By doing leg-stretching exercises I got from the Net, I got rid of it without consulting a doctor or using pain-killers.
You can do it, too. For starters, try these DIY tips should you experience any of these common age-related aches and pains.
There are many kinds of headaches and distinguishing one from the other is crucial in coping with them.
It could be due to flu if it comes with a fever, or a migraine if it makes you feel nauseated.
If a headache occurs in some parts of the head, it could be due to stress, reaction to some foods, or effects of the weather.
Migraine or flu headaches require medical intervention, while the other type needs nothing more than a short nap and massaging a menthol cream on the forehead or the base of the neck.
I do mine by relaxing the throbbing part of my brain. Doing it is difficult at first, but constant practice can reduce it to a few minutes of deep concentration. It works all the time and can be done anywhere, even while driving.
2. Lower Back Pain:
This is also very common among seniors. In fact, it is the most common – especially those with a history of back injury.
One thing nasty about lower back pain is that it goes as fast as it comes without you even knowing why it occurred in the first place.
For example, you wake up early in the morning feeling refreshed and recharged. But when you swing your legs off the bed, ouch – you grimace with pain from your lower back.
Or you stoop down to pick up something but can’t get back up without crying out for help. It can happen even while getting up from a chair, a sudden turn of the torso, or changes in humidity.
Lower back pain is not a stranger to me. I experience it so often, I stopped minding it a long time ago. I know that it will just run its due course and disappear in a couple of days.
But of course, I exercise a lot. It is the best antidote for lower back pains. Exercise strengthens your lower back muscles, make them supple and flexible, and improves blood flow.
Note: See a physician if it persists more than a week.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage separating bone joints wears out – very much like the rubber bushings in your car.
But while rubber bushings are easy and cheap to replace, implanting silicon pads between bones joints is expensive. So is steroid injection directly on the affected joints. They are way out of reach for most seniors, including me.
Because of their load-bearing function, osteoarthritis mostly affects the knees – like mine.
Yes, I have osteoarthritis on both knees. They hurt when I go up or down staircases or stand for long periods of time.
But it doesn’t stop me from playing tennis, which makes osteoarthritis paradoxical. To ease its pain, constantly flex your joints. Do brisk walking regularly or stationary cycling.
Exercise keeps the blood circulating, strengthens the muscles around the joint, making them healthy.
4. Non-arthritis joint pain:
Arthritis is always the culprit when seniors experience joint aches and pains. But it could be something else, like tendinitis.
Tendinitis occurs when the tendons (tissue connecting the muscles to the bones) are inflamed. This is common among seniors because age stiffens the tendon fibers making them less flexible.
To distinguish the two, try moving around. With arthritis, to get moving is painful, but you can move. With tendonitis, the more you move, the more it hurts.
RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) is the most common method of easing tendinitis pain.
Lie down and rest, wrap a pack of ice on the affected area and prop it up on a pillow or cushion. Then take a tablet or two of nonsteroidal Ibuprofen (over-the-counter drugs are not opium-based).
5. Carpal Tunnel Pain:
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist made up of bones and ligaments. The nerve that controls sensation and movement in the thumb and the first three fingers pass through this tunnel.
This can happen after a prolonged and repetitive action like using a piece of machinery or typing. You are a good candidate for carpal tunnel pain if it runs in the family.
Carpal tunnel pain is felt in your fingers and wrist and could be no more than a feeling of numbness or tingling sensation in your fingertips.
It is not life-threatening but neglecting it can lead to permanent nerve damage.
Just like other aches and pains, exercise is the best remedy for carpal tunnel pain. If it persists for more than a week, consult your doctor who may prescribe over-the-counter painkillers or occupational physical therapy.
6. Muscle strain or pain:
We become more prone to muscle pains or strains as we get older because our muscle fibers become less dense and flexible.
To avoid muscle strain or pain, be very careful when lifting heavy weights or doing vigorous activities. But that would be denying you the pleasures of a vigorous and active life.
Muscle strain or pain can be avoided by making sure your muscles mass and flexibility are still capable of doing activities that make old age a satisfying, exciting and fulfilling experience.
Aches and pains are normal episodes in an elderly’s life. While some can be no more than a little soreness here and there, others can be crippling. They may inhibit you from going about your daily activities.
But rather than resorting to quick fixes pain-killers give, it is best to know them. Like they say, “the battle is half-won if you know your enemy.”
Please share with other seniors to help them cope with their aches and pains.