Knee pain is a common ailment for older adults. Unfortunately, the swelling and stiffness that lead to this condition can stop patients from performing daily routines. Here are five pain management tips for elders with knee pain.
An inactive lifestyle can contribute to pain and inflammation in the knee. On the other hand, regular exercise can help keep the muscles that support the knee joint strong and flexible. Try doing low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, or biking. Always increase the intensity of your workout gradually. Stop if your knees hurt.
Ice Packs and Heat Therapy
Applying ice packs to the affected area can reduce swelling and inflammation. Use an ice pack for 10-15 minutes every 2-3 hours for the first 2-3 days. Then reduce the frequency and duration of use over time. Apply heat to the knee using a heating pad. You can also apply a warm, moist towel to the knee several times daily to reduce pain and stiffness.
Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation and pain. However, these medications should be given under a physician’s prescription. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment option for you.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Weight gain can increase the pressure on the knee joint and lead to pain and discomfort. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can help relieve this pressure and keep the knee joint healthy. See your doctor to help you develop a weight-loss plan tailored to your needs and goals.
Massaging the knee joints can also help improve the flexibility and mobility of the knee and promote healing. This is especially useful for individuals recovering from injury or surgery. A physical therapist will apply gentle pressure to specific body areas to promote relaxation and encourage blood flow. Studies have proven that massage therapy can help reduce pain and improve joint function in people with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
Knee Joint Pain Remedies
If you are experiencing knee pain, many remedies are available to help ease and improve your mobility. Below are some tips to help improve your overall health and reduce knee pain.
Rest sore joints as much as possible. Avoid activities that cause pain when your knee is painful or swollen. This can help reduce inflammation and relieve some of the pain. Rest for at least a few days to allow your knee joint to heal. In the meantime, try to keep the knee in as straight of a line as possible.
This is a clinically tested procedure involving inserting fine, sterile needles into the skin at specific points that correspond to different body systems. Regular acupuncture sessions can reduce pain and improve the range of motion.
Compression bandages are also known as elastic knee bands. Wearing a compression bandage can help reduce swelling in your knee and improve mobility. The bandage also provides support to help keep the joints stable and prevent further injury.
Stretching can also help to improve flexibility and reduce pain. One stretch that is particularly effective for knee pain relief is the quadriceps stretch. It involves straightening one leg and bending the other at the knee so that the shin is parallel to the ground. Keep your back straight as you hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, and repeat with the other leg.
Massaging oils such as eucalyptus into the knee joint can also relieve pain and stiffness. Essential oils containing cinnamon, sesame, orange and ginger can help reduce pain caused by osteoarthritis. They may also improve flexibility and functionality in the knees.
When to Seek Medical Advice?
If the pain persists for more than one week or worsens over time, you should make an appointment with your doctor so they can help diagnose and treat your pain. You may also want to visit your doctor if you experience redness, swelling, muscle weakness, or when you can’t put weight on your knee. Your doctor will examine your knee for mobility, flexibility and general functionality. MRI/CT or X-rays scan can help identify injuries or deformities. Occasionally, your doctor may need a small amount of joint fluid for testing.
Knee pain can cause discomfort and prevent you from doing daily routines. Thankfully, the above tips can help you overcome pain and discomfort in your knees.
Like other critical parts of the musculoskeletal system, the spine experiences some wear and tear over the decades. Does this mean back pain is inevitable as you get older? Not necessarily.
What Happens to Your Spine as You Age?
The spine itself is composed of a series of stacked bones called vertebrae. Small joints between each vertebra allow for the spine’s range of movement and little rubbery discs with jelly-like centers inside make sure bones don’t rub against one another (they also serve as the spine’s shock absorbers).
Over time, these disks can dry out, shrink, and wear away, causing the spine to compress. This is known as degenerative disc disease. Sometimes the space surrounding the spinal cord will start to narrow too; this is known as spinal stenosis. Arthritis and osteoporosis may also affect the spine as you age leading to joint degradation and even spinal fractures.
Any of these age-related conditions can contribute to back pain, especially when bones start rubbing against one another and nerves get pinched. The body may even go as far as to grow bone spurs in an effort to stabilize a degenerating spine.
Preventing and Managing Back Pain
So, is there anything older adults can do to prevent it or at least manage the pain and discomfort that comes with those types of conditions? Definitely.
Experts recommend taking actions to relieve some of the burden your spine bears during daily activity. This includes:
- Exercising to strengthen your back and core to more properly support the spine
Practicing good posture when sitting, using the computer, texting, etc.
Wearing a back brace for added posture support and lumbar compression
Eating a healthy diet rich with anti-inflammatory foods that help you maintain a healthy weight and combat systemic inflammation in they body – think fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and lean proteins
Reducing stress on the back. This may mean utilizing lumbar cushions when driving, updating your mattress to better support your spine when sleeping, and avoiding activities which exacerbate your back pain
Of course, it is also important to remember that acute back pain can also stem from something as simple as a muscle strain. Lifting something heavy, straining your arms and neck reaching for something in an awkward position, even sitting for a long period of time in an uncomfortable chair – any of these things can cause back pain and inflammation.