Stiff joints and reduced mobility have been accepted as part of the aging process. Here’s the typical scenario once this condition sets in:
pain and stiff joints—> see doctor —> eat painkillers —> more pain —> doctor say the painkiller’s dosage is getting too high, better cut down-–> walk with aid such as cane
The following conditions above will take a few years to set in. Then, if nothing much is being done and the person or the family of the senior “just let nature takes its course”, the following will happen:
—> no energy on the legs and pain, so walk less, sit down more—> even the other leg got even more pain –> wheelchair seemed to be the only option to move–> eventually, the legs degenerate in size and loses energy —> full blown arthritis sets in–> the person becomes paralysed and subsequently bedridden
It is only a very simple thing and can happen at any age- whenever you want to get up from a chair, do you need to use your hands to support on something in order to push yourself up? Can you squat down fully and then get up without using any support?
Nip the problem at the bud and you will avoid your condition from deteriorating or at least delay it by years. I am serious about this. Reason I write this article is because I am very concerned with what I see- sufferers and their families are just ‘letting nature takes its course’.
What can I do about this?
You can start an exercise program. The worst thing you can do when you get arthritis is to make the decision to stop moving. If you are overweight, you need to try to work on reduce your weight so that it will be less stress on your joints- at the same time, take up walking. The exercise must be weight bearing.
If the pain is bad and is really affecting your mobility, consider:
- first check with a qualified doctor if the condition is so bad that it’s ‘bone rubbing against bone’. If yes, then most of the time, surgery is the only option.
- consulting a physiotherapist or occupational therapist- they will be able to help with gradual movement to improve mobility
- get professional massage-from qualified massage therapists. Done correctly, massage helps to improve circulation and ease the stiffness in muscles
- engaging a professional personal trainer with experience in training people with your condition. The personal trainer should be introducing weight training and flexibility as part of your exercise program (aside from cardio)
- complimentary exercises such as tai chi and qi gong helps- you may not believe it but these ancient practices works to clear energy or ‘chi’ blockages and thus improving circulation. I know many people who have done these exercises have their conditions improved (have you ever seen the clips of healthy older adults from China doing their daily qi gong or tai chi exercises?)
The idea is to strengthen your leg muscles- so that your joint need not have to absorb so much of shock and stress. At the same time, stretching and any exercises that improves your range of motion in your joints (ROM) will help to reduce the stiffness.
If you know your loved ones is suffering in silence, the solution don’t go for painkiller presciption- it mask the pain but the degeneration is still happening. It is even more dangerous if the pain is masked- as it will cause one to be under the illusion that everything is ok when it is far from it.
But there is still hope. Taking action and making lifestyle changes will give you back more quality of life.