Do We Get More Fragile With Age?

This is a great question we get on a regular basis from the patients we see.  Unfortunately, the answer to the question is yes.  Time takes its toll on the human body.  That’s true no matter how much you exercise, or how healthy your lifestyle is. Many of the impacts your body suffers as you get older makes you more fragile.

Here’s a quick overview of what you have to look forward to:

  • In your spine, over time, you’re likely to see the growth of bone spurs. Your vertebrae will begin to lose minerals, making them thinner.  Between each of your vertebrae, you have a disk that serves as a kind of cushion.  As you get older, these disks lose fluid and become thinner, making it more likely that you’ll begin to suffer chronic back pain.
  • Just like your vertebrae begin to lose their mineral content, the same thing happens to every other bone in your body, making them thinner, more brittle, and thus, more easily broken.
  • As you age, you begin to lose muscle mass which also serves to make you increasingly frail and fragile. The muscle mass you have remaining is also less toned, and as these problems worsen, you’re simply not able to move around with the freedom you once did.
  • The joints in your body are lubricated by fluid, and like the fluid in the disks in your back, this slowly drains away, which can lead to pain and stiffness caused by increasing levels of inflammation.

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for old age.  It’s coming for all of us, so while there are things you can do to postpone the effects described above, at this point, there’s simply no way to stop it from happening.  Old age isn’t for the faint of heart!

Standing For Too Long Could Contribute To Health Issues

As you may know, sitting has been called the new smoking, and the dangers of prolonged periods of sitting have made headlines all over the web in the past couple of years.  A new study looks at a very different problem and highlights the dangers of too much time spent standing.

We often hear how just about everyone these days has a desk job, so it may surprise you to know that almost half of all workers worldwide are standing for up to 75 percent of their work day.

Unfortunately, standing for that length of time can lead to a variety of problems, including:

  • Leg cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Back ache

Even worse is the fact that these problems are not simply painful, but also negatively impact that worker’s productivity.  Worst of all, you can’t just get used to standing for extended periods.  The damage to your body will only worsen over time, leading to progressively more severe pain that could become both chronic and acute.

The research studied the impact of long-duration standing on both young and old workers alike, and on both men and women.  It revealed that even when the workers studied were allowed to take regular breaks, significant long-term fatigue followed their five-hour (simulated) working day.

Of particular interest, younger study participants (those aged 18-30) were just as likely to show signs of long-term fatigue as workers aged 50 years or older.

The researchers note that “…long-term fatigue after prolonged standing work may be present without being perceived.” and “…current work schedules for standing work may not be adequate for preventing fatigue accumulation, and this long-lasting muscle fatigue may contribute to musculoskeletal disorders and back pain.”

It’s something to be mindful of if you have to stand for extended periods of time in the conduct of your job, and at the first sign of pain, be sure to see your doctor or chiropractor.

How You Sleep Could Be Affecting Your Pain

Are you a side sleeper?  A stomach sleeper?  An all over the map sleeper?  It could be at least part of the reason your back hurts.

A study conducted in 2015 by the National Institutes of Health indicated that a staggering 25 million American adults deal with chronic pain on a daily basis, so if you have an aching back, you’re certainly not alone.  What you may not have realized is that how you sleep may be playing a major role in that.

Here’s a quick overview of the problem:

If you sleep on your side, you might get away with it for years without incident, but side sleeping puts stress on the hip and shoulder you’re putting your weight on, and over time, it can cause pain in those areas. Not to mention the pain in the neck it can give you.

It gets worse though.  If you sleep on your right side, it could aggravate any heartburn you might be having.

If you think side sleeping is bad though, stomach sleepers have it even worse.  That’s because sleeping on your stomach puts pressure on your entire body. Your spine just wasn’t meant to support your body in that position.  Long term, it can lead to numbness or tingling all over.

Also, inevitably, stomach sleepers will have to turn their head to one side or the other in order to breath.  Unfortunately, doing that increases your risk of neck, muscle and joint pain.

Although back sleeping is the best and healthiest option, only eight percent of people sleep in that position.  The good news is, you can train yourself to do so.

The simplest way to retrain your body is to flank yourself with pillows before you sleep.  That should keep you from turning over during the night.  If that doesn’t cut it, start wearing a tee-shirt to bed, and sew a tennis ball into the lining.  When you try to roll over, the discomfort will ensure you roll back onto your back.

Give it a try.  Your back will thank you for it!


Does The Changing Season Affect Your Joints?

Although the research on the matter is divided, ask just about anyone and they’ll tell you that cold, damp weather makes their joints ache, and causes their arthritis to flare up.

True, there have been some studies that have been able to validate what so many of us feel in our aching bones. However, the results have been spotty, which is why the scientific community is divided on the matter.

While we all wait for the science to confirm what so many of us feel in our bones, here are a few tips to enjoy a pain free autumn and winter this year:

  • Stay active! This is one of the best and most important things you can do. Although as the weather starts to turn warmer, you’ll almost certainly want to do your exercising indoors.  Just as the important as the exercise itself is to remember to stretch both before (a good warm-up) and after (a cool down).
  • Stay warm – this one should be obvious, but it bears mentioning anyway. If the cold weather is making your joints ache and causing your arthritis to flare up, do everything you can to stay warm.  Bundle up.  Layer your clothing as needed, and of course, keep moving.
  • Try Glucosamine – Although scientific opinion is divided on the effectiveness of Glucosamine, some people who have taken the supplement have reported that it has helped to ease the pain in their joints and improve their range of motion. There’s nothing to lose by giving it a try, and potentially quite a lot to be gained.

Let’s say the supplement doesn’t work, you’re not able to bundle up enough to stave off the cold, and you’re not able to stay active. At that point, all you can do is grin and bear it, knowing that spring will arrive before long to chase the cold weather away.

This, however, should only apply in a very few cases.  The overwhelming majority of people will find comfort in one of the solutions offered above.

Are Restrictive Clothing Items Causing Health Problems?

Is your clothing a little on the tight side?  If so, it could be causing health problems for you.  If it isn’t yet, it may well in the future.

Consider the story of a 35-year old Australian woman who spent four days in the hospital because of her “skinny jeans.”

The day before she was hospitalized, she had done an extensive amount of squatting helping a friend move.  That led to circulation problems, which reduced the blood supply in her legs.  That, in turn, led to swelling later the next day.

The swelling incapacitated her, and she spent several hours lying on the ground before she was found and rushed to the emergency room, where the attending physician had to cut the jeans off of her.  It sounds funny to hear about it, but it truly was a life-threatening situation, and not the only one caused by clothing that’s too tight.

Men who wear ‘tighty whities,’ for example, face significantly increased risk of suffering from twisted testicles, UTIs (urinary tract infections) and general bladder weakness.  Doctors have described women’s thong underwear as being “subway cars for transporting bacteria from the back end to the front.”

The solutions to these kinds of issues are as straightforward as you’d imagine them to be.

Wear cotton undergarments, which are more breathable than synthetic materials.  For women, be sure you’re wearing a bra that fits properly to reduce breast pain and back strain.  Men, believe it or not, your necktie could put you at increased risk of blindness, at least according to a study published in 2003.

Shoes are another potentially problematic item, especially flip flops and high heeled shoes.

As anyone who has ever worn flip flops can attest to, these convenient summertime shoes offer no support whatsoever, and wreak havoc on your feet.  The same can be said of high heeled shoes, which place significantly more pressure on your feet than loafers and cause you to walk differently , and can lead to posture problems in the long term.

The bottom line is, during any given day, the average person is exposed to a tremendous number of dangers.  We’re not doing ourselves any favors by intentionally exposing ourselves to even more, simply by making poor clothing choices.