September is Healthy Aging Month, which spotlights the importance of maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health throughout life’s changes. Thanks to modern medical advancements, the 65+ population has risen in the last ten years and is expected to grow by an additional 45% by 2060.
This increased longevity makes it even more important to ensure you can and will enjoy yourself through your golden years. But the aches and pains that come with age-related conditions have the potential to impact your physical health, and affect you emotionally and mentally, too.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to keep pain at bay and continue your favorite activities.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, some of the pain created by the wear and tear your body experiences over the years might be simply considered “nuisance pain.” As we age, the cartilage between bones diminishes naturally, and discs in the spinal column may lose moisture and therefore provide less shock absorption. But pain from other conditions can worsen these effects.
For instance, the Arthritis Foundation notes that at least 54 million adults have some version of arthritis. The most common form is osteoarthritis: characterized by swollen, painful joints caused by a breakdown of cartilage. While osteoarthritis is a common age-related condition among many, athletes and individuals with physical jobs may be more susceptible.
Other chronic conditions commonly seen in aging populations may also contribute to pain. Hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may all impact your body’s ability to combat inflammation and deterioration, reducing your capacity to function optimally. Further health issues caused by a sedentary lifestyle, such as joint stiffness and frailty, may also contribute to pain.
Whether or not you’re already managing a preexisting condition, here’s what you can do to minimize discomfort through adulthood.
Our bodies are meant to move. Joint-friendly exercises can support mobility without compounding existing damage. For instance, biking and swimming take the load off your joints while keeping you active.
Staying within a healthy weight range can reduce the strain on your body. Obesity increases the risk for arthritis, along with other health issues, but maintaining your weight by eating a nutrient-rich diet and staying physically active can mitigate your risks.
Muscle fibers become less dense with age, making you more injury-prone. Ask for help when needed to prevent a muscle strain, and practice bodyweight or light weight-bearing exercises, (such as squats or bicep curls) to build up your strength gradually and avoid injuries.
Hydration promotes shock absorption. Your cartilage and spinal discs need moisture to stay healthy, so pay attention to your body’s thirst cues. Ideally, you should be drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, and swap out sodas and other calorie- or sugar-rich beverages for water when possible.
While we can expect certain pains to come and go as we age, intense or persistent pain should never be ignored. Discomfort is the body’s way of telling us something’s wrong, so professional help is essential for addressing the root issue.
If you’re experiencing chronic or acute pain, turn to Alliance Spine and Pain for an effective care plan. Our team is dedicated to bringing you relief through state-of-the-art treatments and a personalized approach to patient care. Call 770-929-9033 or schedule an appointment online