In our previous article, we looked at the common misconception that the aches and pains of growing older are normal. However, those aches and pains may be the sign of something more serious, like osteoarthritis.
Staying ahead of osteoarthritis means being armed with information and prepared for action. By the age of 65, half of all seniors will develop osteoarthritis, which affects joints in the hands, knees, hips and the neck and back areas. Although most people complain about minor aches and pains as they get older, what’s the difference between normal discomforts and osteoarthritis?
In most cases, mild soreness caused by moderate and regular exercise–whether working out at the gym or working in your garden–is usually nothing to worry about. According to Robert P. Shannon, a family physician and assistant professor of Family and Palliative Medicine at Mayo Clinic Florida, normal pain from overexertion is more generalized and goes away with pain relievers or rest. However, if you feel stiff and have trouble moving in the mornings, you may have osteoarthritis. This kind of pain is more localized and continues to bother you long after engaging in moderate exercise or sitting in one position for a long time.
If you think you or your loved one may have osteoarthritis, be sure to make an appointment with your physician. Along with conducting a physical exam, your doctor may order X-rays or an MRI, as well as lab tests to rule out any other underlying disorders. If you are diagnosed with osteoarthritis, your doctor will suggest a treatment plan that may include exercise, medications, alternative non-drug therapies, or in some cases, surgery.
The “golden years” of life can be filled with enjoyable hobbies and daily activities. Get ahead of osteoarthritis. Start paying attention to the little aches and pains, and keep a daily log of how you or your loved one is feeling. If you notice ongoing, localized or chronic pain in your joints, seek out the help of a good physician. With the right treatment plan and a positive attitude, osteoarthritis doesn’t have to get you down.