Mark Twain said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” But tell that to your joints! According to experts, aging causes changes in the joints, bones, and muscles. You don’t have to be an expert to notice that posture and walking patterns often change in the senior years. A lot of discomfort and pain in association with the joints is also common. Fortunately, there are ways to effectively deal with these effects of aging, as many of our residents have discovered.
Don’t Ignore Persistent Joint Pain
A breakdown of joints is frequently associated with aging, and the process can lead to pain, stiffness, inflammation, and deformity. Because joint pain is such a common issue among the elderly, seniors sometimes fail to seek medical attention for the condition. Physicians say, however, that ignoring persistent pain can lead to chronic pain, which can diminish quality of life. The definition of chronic pain is pain that persists for longer than three months. Chronic joint pain could be associated with underlying issues, including rheumatoid arthritis and gout as well as injuries such as sprains and strains.
A national recent survey showed that approximately one-third of all adults have reported having joint pain in the past month. Joint pain can affect all parts of your body, but the most common complaints include:
- Knee pain
- Shoulder pain
- Hip pain
Joint pain ranges from mildly irritating to debilitating. The quality of your life can be disrupted with even short-term swelling and pain in the joints.
There are many forms of arthritis, a musculoskeletal disease which causes inflammation, pain, and stiffness in the joints. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the progressive wear and tear of joint cartilage. When it becomes less elastic, cartilage fails to cushion the rubbing of bone against bone, which is painful. Seniors who suffer from osteoarthritis often experience morning stiffness and dull or sharp joint pain in the hips, knees, spine, and fingers.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body is attacking itself. Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by deformity of the joints of fingers, wrists, and feet as well as swelling and sharp pain. The inflammation and joint pain associated with this disease can be disabling.
Home Remedies for Joint Pain
For joint pain with swelling, from moderate to severe, doctors usually prescribe an over-the-counter or prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Doctors may also recommend steroidal injections or surgery, for some types of joint pain. The best solution, however, is always the most natural solution. The following are effective home remedies for reducing, controlling, or eliminating joint pain:
Get plenty of sleep. Studies show a strong correlation between lack of sleep and joint pain. It could be that your joint pain is partially caused by unhealthy sleep patterns. Establish a nightly sleep routine; and consult your doctor if a good night’s sleep evades you due to pain.
Say no to stress. Of course, life can be very stressful, especially when dealing with painful joints. One of the problems with stress is that it exacerbates the problem of joint pain by causing overall physical tension. Massages, meditation, prayer, yoga, and acupuncture are all options seniors use to help reduce stress.
Avoid weight gain. When you gain weight, the pressure on your joints increases because the joints carry more of a load, which results in the type of wear and tear that is associated with osteoarthritis. A direct response to weight gain could be aching knees. Losing as little as ten pounds could provide the arthritis pain relief you are looking for.
Avoid repetitive movements. When you engage in tasks involving repetitive joint motions, you aggravate joint problems. If, for example, you sit at the computer for hours, movements with the mouse can cause pain and injury. Take frequent breaks and do simple stretches, to avoid repetitive movement injuries.
Eat healthy fats. Your diet can contribute a lot to joint relief or joint pain. There are anti-inflammatory properties, for example, in omega-3 fatty acids. High daily doses of these healthy fats are needed to provide relief from pain, between 2,000 and 3,000 milligrams. Salmon is one type of food that contains omega-3 fatty acids, and you can take supplements. It is recommended, however, to consult your physician about any supplements you take.
Amp up vitamin D intake. You may not be getting enough vitamin D, if you always wear sunblock and if you don’t often eat eggs or dairy. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, and a deficiency can put you at an increased risk for arthritis and other types of joint pain.
Live an active life. One day per week of sedentary leisure is fine; but lack of movement on a daily basis will usually increase arthritis pain. This remedy may not make sense to many, but the reality is that exercise will usually reduce pain, even when the painful joints are used in the exercise. Swimming and other water-based activities are frequently recommended for joint pain sufferers, since underwater activities involve less impact to the joints. Simply increasing the amount of walking and other activities that you engage in can also be effective at reducing joint pain.
Don’t overdo. There is a balance to be achieved when exercising to eliminate joint pain. If you push too hard, you can cause injuries that increase inflammation. Yes, remain active. Stick to a moderate pace, and add gentle exercise to your daily routine. Studies show that, with gentle and regular exercise, the onset of arthritis can be delayed even in people who are strongly predisposed by genetics to suffer from the disease.
Isn’t it good to know that you may be able to reduce joint pain with some of these home remedies? As many of our residents have, we hope that you find relief from any joint pain you may be suffering from.
Discovery Commons At Wildewood understands the motions that families go through when preparing to move into a senior living community. Whether looking for yourself or an aging parent, be sure to plan your move accordingly. While you’re at it, be sure to research senior living options like Assisted Living, Memory Care, or Respite Care before figuring out what to do with all of your belongings. For some extra advice, contact us online or give us a call at 301.863.7110 today!