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Dealing with pain – are you in your 40’s or 50’s?

written by Vidya Sury November 3, 2010

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Pain is something we all experience at some point or other in our lives. There are six golden rules to deal with pain that we should bear in mind. The types of pains common to those in their 30’s can be different from those in their 40’s or 50’s – because pain varies as we grow older.

This one is for those in their 40’s – 50’s:

Pain problem: Arthritis and Back Trouble

This is the age when osteoarthritis and degenerative disk disease commonly begin to show themselves. Degenerative disc disease causes the disks – which act as shock absorbers for the spine and allow it to flex, bend, and twist – to dry out and become brittle. This can cause pain, limit range of motion, and irritate muscles or tendons. Chronic back or neck pain, as well as pain in the hands, knees, and hips may also begin during these years.

The two most likely groups of people to experience arthritis pain at this age are the very fit who injure themselves in midlife by overdoing exercise, and those who do nothing to keep their bodies fit. A total lack of exercise can cause stiff joints, shoulder pain, and hip pain.

The fix:
Take a conservative approach to treatment.

When it comes to treating short-term joint and lower back pain, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen may help, but people often make the mistake of giving up too quickly. It may take 10-14 days of regular dosing for the full anti-inflammatory benefit from NSAIDs to kick in. The same is true of prescription medications with side effects that cause people to stop taking them before they have a chance to make a difference.

People think that something is mechanically wrong and [that the back] should be fixed like a car. But it’s not that easy; the back pain often returns, worse than before, after two years. Try physical therapy, spinal and muscle injections of corticosteroids (which reduce inflammation), local anesthetics, or a combination of both to relieve pain. Acupuncture has also been shown to be very effective. It is important to be persistent and try various treatments until you get some relief.

Fix: Develop strength and balance.

Strengthening your core muscles, which include your abs, is also important for low back pain. Your lower back is better supported when your abdominal muscles are strong.

Also work on strengthening the quadriceps muscles – which are between your hip and knee cap on the front of your upper leg – during your 40s and 50s. Quad strengthening helps in fall prevention. It helps people who have back pain to learn to use their legs more so they don’t have to use their back so much. It helps prevent knee pain as well.

And if you haven’t already started working on your balance, now is the time, because as you age, you’re more likely to fall. The martial arts Tai Chi or Qigong strengthen the quadriceps and improve balance. These practices involve meditation, slow graceful movements, and controlled breathing.

Tomorrow – dealing with pain in your 60’s, 70’s and beyond.

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Stay healthy!
Vidya Sury

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