Boomer Voice: What to Do About Joint Pain

September 25, 2013
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joint pain

I hate the phrase “aging gracefully.”  In fact, I hate the whole idea of aging—especially when it comes to my joint pain.

Everywhere I can, I fight aging.  I’m my late 50s.  I  have brown hair, use lots of anti-aging facial creams, am a proponent of plastic surgery and keep up with the latest fashion trends.

joint pain

I hate the phrase “aging gracefully.”  In fact, I hate the whole idea of aging—especially when it comes to my joint pain.

Everywhere I can, I fight aging.  I’m my late 50s.  I  have brown hair, use lots of anti-aging facial creams, am a proponent of plastic surgery and keep up with the latest fashion trends.

But my knees, arms and shoulders aren’t always cooperating with the Boomer chant of staying young. 

Remember when our mantra was, “Don’t trust anyone over 30?” 

Ok, so we’re over 30 now, but I cringe when a young doctor tells me “you’re not as young as you once were.” Duh?  Intellectually I know that.  But it’s not what I want to hear when I’m complaining about my knees hurting during walks up hill, or my wrist and fingers hurting after an hour of knitting.  Don’t even get me started about SI joint pain.

I’m an avid “keep your body in good shape” article reader. I aim for four days a week of cardio exercise and two days for strength training.  I take Pilates classes and usually eat nutritiously, cookies and chocolate notwithstanding. I take multiple supplements that promote strong joints and I still have knee and wrist pain.

Recently I saw a sports medicine doctor just to be sure I didn’t have any serious injuries. He x-rayed me and gave me the dreaded Boomer diagnosis.  “You have a bit of arthritis in these areas,” he explained.  “You can go to physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the joints, and ease up on the exercise a bit, but your cartilage and joints are just aging.” He did warn me to return if the pain worsened

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Ugh!  NO, NO NO I bellowed on my way to my car. I decided to take matters in my own digital hands. I would do more strengthening with my Pilates trainer and hit the Internet for some at home physical therapy exercises. 

Voila!!  I found terrific sites that helped me identify what was really happening behind my skin’s surface, and offered some ideas for relief and strengthening.

First stop:

 Sharecareis a free web based site that provides expert answers to your health and wellness questions.   The site, co-founded by Dr. Mehmet Oz, is clean and easy to use.  Under the topics tab, I selected Knee Pain, and was presented with a full course.  From causes, to treatment to support groups, there was a vast array of articles, videos and physicians available for consult. There also is a Sharecare clipboard on the site’s homepage that works similar to Pinterest, allowing users to create specialized photo boards.

Healthtap is a mobile app and website that connects doctors with patients for free.  Users enter their brief questions (150 words max).  When I tried it I received several answers within three hours.  Healthtap does not provide diagnosis, but offers users lots of answers to questions with diagrams.  For example, I found that my “knock knees” lead to early arthritis, and there isn’t much I can do for it.

Wello is for people who want strength training in the privacy and comfort of their own home. I first saw this site and met the founders when it was showcased at an AARP convention in July.  Participants work out with a LIVE trainer over a two way video, either individually or in remote groups.  Users can work out at home, at work, in the park, virtually any place they have an internet connection.  Trainers’ complete profiles are on the site, as well as easy to use scheduling programs.

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None of these sites are substitutes for necessary doctor’s visits, but they helped me understand what was happening with my joints, and gave me ideas on how to prevent injuries.   Believe me, I will do all I can to prolong a knee replacement—because that’s for “older” people.

image: joint pain/shutterstock