Image Credit: Parji Photography Via: Pexels
It’s natural to assume that as we age, aches, pains and discomforts await. In fact, around 50% of people aged 65 and up said that they’d experienced some degree of joint pain as they aged.
People may experience joint discomfort for a variety of reasons, including:
- Frozen shoulder: Frozen shoulder happens when connective tissues near the joint thicken and tighten.
- Osteoarthritis: This refers to wear and tear on the cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones, which can result in bone rubbing on bone.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This involves the body’s immune system erroneously attacking the tissue that lines our joints.
- Degenerative disc disease: Discs down the neck and back can degenerate, causing the discs to swell or burst, pressing on the spine or neighbouring nerves.
- Bone spurs: A bone spur is a calcified growth that presses on nearby nerves, ligaments, and tendons.
While some of these ailments are in response to an injury or surgery, prolonged pain doesn’t need to be a given. There are a few ways to slow or even halt joint discomfort as we approach our senior years — and well into them.
Here are some ways (in addition to pharmaceutical medicines)to reduce joint discomfort and better a loved one’s quality of life from your home this spring — and beyond.
Recruiting the help of an in-home professional can also ease joint discomfort. Physiotherapy is often suggested to seniors needing help with chronic pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and other musculoskeletal conditions (like arthritis) and for those suffering from an accident or injury, or recovering from surgery.
Physiotherapists can help people manage chronic pain stemming from joint issues through guided exercise and gentle stretching.
Trusted agencies like Integracare Home Care bring physiotherapy to those in need within the comfort of their own homes, mitigating the need to arrange transportation or to get to appointments on time — ideal if joints are achy or uncomfortable.
Quit or Cut Back on Smoking
It’s no secret that smoking is bad for the health of your major organs. But did you know that it can also damage your joints? Studies show that you’re more likely to experience extreme rheumatoid arthritis if you smoke and that osteoarthritis can feel more painful for smokers.
Additionally, a study of men shared by WebMD found that “men with knee osteoarthritis who smoke sustain greater cartilage loss and have more severe knee pain than men who do not smoke.”
If you or a senior you know needs help quitting smoking, consult with local support groups or your family doctor.
Try Low-Impact Exercise
Low-impact exercise causes minimal joint pressure; it improves muscle strength, balance, and flexibility. Low-impact exercise is a fantastic spring activity as it can be done from the comfort of your home — or the home of the senior you support — by watching online tutorials.
Some examples of low-impact exercise include:
- Tai Chi
- Stretching from a seated or standing position
Take tai chi for an example. In a 2013 report that took place over 12 weeks and involved seven different studies, the researchers found that tai chi helped reduce pain and stiffness while boosting physical ability in those with osteoarthritis.
Alternating Hot and Cold Treatments
Testing temperature therapy is an ideal indoor activity. Studies show that alternating between hot and cold temperatures can ease joint pain. Here are some easy ways to try temperature therapy at home.
Heat treatments, like a hot shower, a heat bag, or a hot water bottle, can soothe muscles and stiff joints.
Cold treatments, like applying an ice pack, or submerging the achy joint in cold water, restricts the blood vessels, thus slowing circulation and numbing the pain. It’s recommended that cold treatments are used for 20 minutes maximum.
Make Some Dietary Adjustments
Spring is a great season to try out new recipes, which can in turn, help joint health. Some foods have been shown to reduce inflammation in the joints. These foods include Omega-3s, as found in nuts (especially walnuts), seeds, salmon, tuna, and sardines.
Other foods can help protect our bodies against inflammation-causing molecules while boosting cartilage health, including Vitamin E and C found in dark leafy greens, tomatoes, onions, garlic and broccoli.
While prescribed medicines are often administered to those suffering from joint pain, set yourself — or the senior you support — up for success with a two-pronged attack on joint discomfort.