When you’re accustomed to the daily pain you feel in your knee or hip due to chronic conditions like osteoporosis or arthritis, you might think an elective surgery like a total joint replacement is your only option to live pain-free. It’s understandable; life isn’t easy when it’s difficult to complete simple tasks like getting in and out of bed or your favorite chair, navigate the stairs, or even bend down to slip on your shoes.
However, before scheduling surgery, there are a few preventative measures you can take to alleviate some of your pain.
For adults age 65 and older, experiencing knee or hip pain is a fairly common occurrence. This is due to normal wear and tear on the joints, which you can think of as mechanical devices. The cartilage covering the ends of the bones are held together by ligaments and lubricated by synovial fluid, acting as a shock absorber. Like any device, over time these “parts” can erode and deteriorate. Additionally, osteoarthritis, which causes the cartilage in your joints to break down, affects 34 percent of older adults and results in chronic knee or hip pain.
Regardless of the reason for your pain, there are ways to get some relief before you take drastic measures and undergo surgery. Starting a physical therapy program can help you learn how to specifically strengthen muscles that can alleviate joint pain and help postpone the need for a knee or hip replacement, especially if your osteoarthritis is currently on the mild to moderate side. In fact, one of the best ways to keep your joints healthy is to maintain a healthy weight by staying as active as possible, and there are a variety of low-impact exercises that can improve physical function in the joints.
These types of exercise include:
Strengthening exercises. Even just minimally increasing your muscle mass can make a noticeable difference in your abilities and provide some relief from chronic pain. Additionally, strength training and endurance exercises increase bone density to help reduce the risk of fractures, especially in women age 50 to 70 years old.
Core exercises. Completing core exercises regularly are key in pain management. These exercises also improve overall body strength and help to keep you balanced, reducing your risk for a fall. When you have a strong core, your back is able to maintain a neutral position and your hips and knees are in the optimal position for movement without added stress on the joints. Pilates, yoga, or working your abs with a fitness ball can all help improve your core strength.
Non-weight bearing exercises. While high impact activities like running are great for your health, these types of exercises can be extremely hard on your joints. Instead, try water aerobics, swimming, or utilizing an elliptical machine or stationary bicycle to get your heart rate up without putting more stress on your joints.
Hip extensions. Hip extensions in particular are great for both knee pain and hip pain. These helpful exercises strengthen the glutes, which in turn alleviates the unnecessary stress on your hips, knees and ankles.
Keep your knee and hip pain in check by staying active in our best-in-class, 7,000 square foot Billie Jane Strauss Wellness Center, featuring cutting-edge equipment for therapy and wellness. Additionally, through Peabody’s Rehab to Home program we offer physical, occupational, speech and aquatic therapy services seven days a week, focusing on restoring health to both older adults and seniors alike. For more information about therapy services at Peabody, please contact us today by calling (260) 982-8616.