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Treating Joint and Muscle Pain Associated With Old Age

written by: Sherry Morris • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 5/18/2011

What treatment options are available for treating muscle and joint pain that comes with the aging process? Exercises, medications and therapies may help ease some of the pain and improve mobility.

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    Treating muscle and joint pain associated with old age is possible. This condition is fairly common in adults, especially those who are forty five years old and above. One of the most important and effective treatments of joint pain is exercise. Being inactive is a sure way to hasten those symptoms as our bodies become less flexible as we age.

    Joint pain cannot be cured. However, relief from the pain is achievable. If you are overweight, your first step is to lose the excess weight.

    The next step is an exercise program developed specifically for you by a physical therapist. Physical therapists suggest starting with a program of exercising forty minutes a day, three times a week. Spending ten minutes a day stretching your arms, legs, hips and shoulders can really help. Low impact exercises such as walking or biking are another option. The best activity for muscle and joint pain is strength training because it reduces stress on the joints, bones and soft tissue.

    Rest is just as important as exercise, so try to sleep eight to ten hours each night. During the day, avoid holding one position for too long. Get up and move around every so often. Avoid movements or positions that place extra stress on affected joints. Furthermore, try avoiding stress, although this is easier said than done.

    If you have access to a pool, water exercises are an excellent choice. Water sustains the body weight and takes away the stress from achy and stiff joints, which makes it much easier to exercise and workout.

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    Images

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    Medical Treatment

    Prescription medications can be prescribed by your physician or rheumatologist to reduce pain and inflammation. For inflammation, some physicians prescribe Vioxx, Celebrex or Bextra. There are also over-the-counter (OTC) medications available such as Motrin, Aleve, arthritis strength Tylenol, or creams, rubs and lotions for muscle aches and pains.

    Your physician can order physical therapy or massage therapy.

    Steroid injections are sometimes given to reduce inflammation and pain. Unfortunately, these injections offer only short term relief for pain. Increasing the duration can result in possible adverse side effects.

    Joint replacement is another possibility if nothing else gives relief. A damaged or arthritic joint is removed and an artificial joint, made of plastic or metal, is used in its place to restore movement and function.

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    Natural Treatments

    Natural pain remedies can be more appealing than prescription medications because of the reduced risk of side effects. A change in the diet such as adding plenty of broccoli, spinach, cabbage, carrots, cherries, apples and pineapple provides vitamins that may relieve joint pain.

    Vitamins that are good for joint pain are vitamins A, C, B-6, B-12 or B vitamins containing thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. Vitamin E can help to repair damaged tissue and improve circulation within the joint. Zinc, manganese and copper help to repair damage done to the joints. Minerals for relief would be copper and calcium. Calcium and vitamin C build bone strength, which in turn helps to reduce pain in the joints. Fatty acids in fish oil and flax oil help reduce the inflammation, which most of the time is the root of joint pain.

    Warning: Patients using vitamins for pain relief should avoid citrus or citrus juices, as this can increase inflammation.

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    Conclusion

    A regular exercise program, a good sleeping pattern and healthy diet can substantially decrease muscle and joint pain associated with old age. If pain continues or worsens, you should contact your physician for further treatment. Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program and to discuss your treatment options.

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    References

    Mayo Clinic Staff, “Exercise helps ease arthritis pain and stiffness"

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicole_mas/3768422871/ by nicole_yoshida