A Guide for Seniors: How to Handle Chronic Pain

OurSeniors.net-A Guide for Seniors: How to Handle Chronic Pain

 
Did you know that there are between 60% and 75% of seniors over the age of 65 that experience some form of persistent pain? What makes this worse is that this range is often higher for seniors living in nursing homes and other types of assisted living facilities. There are a lot of things that can lead to chronic pain in old age. Unfortunately, many seniors find themselves dealing with this problem daily.
Chronic pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, including arthritis, injuries, and diseases. It can also just be the result of natural aging. Regardless of the cause of your chronic pain, since there is no cure for it, many people wonder what they can do to alleviate chronic pain and how to be proactive about it to either prevent it or keep it from becoming worse.

Types of Chronic Pain and How to Fix It

There are two main types of chronic pain. That would be neuropathic and nociceptive pain. Neuropathic pain is caused by damage to the nervous system, while nociceptive pain is caused by damage to the tissues. Here’s a more in-depth look at each type of chronic pain and how you can alleviate it:

Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain is often described as a burning or shooting sensation. It can be caused by a variety of conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and nerve injuries. There are a few different ways that you can treat neuropathic pain. First, your doctor may prescribe medications, such as antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, or opioids. You can also try using natural remedies, such as CBD oil. Additionally, electrical stimulation or nerve blocks may be effective in treating neuropathic pain.

Nociceptive Pain

Nociceptive pain is the most common type of chronic pain. It’s caused by damage to the tissues, including the muscles, bones, and joints. Nociceptive pain can be either acute or chronic. Acute nociceptive pain is the result of an injury, such as a sprained ankle. Chronic nociceptive pain is often the result of conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia. Treatment for this form of pain typically includes over-the-counter or prescription medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Arthritis Pain

Arthritis is a common condition that causes inflammation and pain in the joints. Almost 50% of people aged 65 and older have arthritis that was diagnosed by a physician. There are many different types of arthritis, but the most common form among seniors is osteoarthritis. This is also commonly referred to as, degenerative joint disease. This type of arthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the joints.
Symptoms will often include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. You will often find an occurrence of this form within the hips, hands, and knees. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are treatments that can help lessen the symptoms. These include medication, physical therapy, and surgery. You could also explore the usage of different therapies such as hydrotherapy or massage therapy to see what approach has the most positive effect on you.

Injury Pain

Pain from injuries can persist long after the initial injury has healed. This is especially common in seniors, who may have more brittle bones or a calcium deficiency and that heal more slowly. If you are dealing with chronic pain from an injury, it’s important to talk to your doctor about treatment options as soon as you experience any pain after the injury. 

Disease-related Pain

Many diseases can cause chronic pain. Cancer, for example, can cause pain from the tumor itself or cancer treatments like chemotherapy. Your body could also just experience weakness or general lack of energy which can pose other issues. Aside from physical chronic pain, there are also others. Some other common examples include migraines, nerve damage, and fibromyalgia.

Natural Aging

As we age, our bodies change and we often start to experience more general aches and pains. This is due to the natural wear and tear that our bodies undergo over the years as we age. There is no actual cure for chronic pain and many people at times can’t identify the source of their chronic pain which can make it difficult to tend to.
The best way to approach general aches and pains before they turn chronic is to remain conditioned, find out what types of vitamins you should be taking, and think outside the box when it comes to different approaches for the care you need.

How Seniors Can Be Proactive

Being proactive can be an essential key when it comes to a care plan involving any form of chronic pain. Doing things like meditation, yoga, intentionally eating healthier, and remaining physically fit are good places to start. When you initially experience pain, using a heating pad or ice pack on sore muscles can help to keep the pain from becoming any worse.
Simply relaxing while using essential oils, such as lavender or peppermint oil can promote overall wellness. Additionally, if you consistently experience chronic pain, visiting your doctor could mean catching the signs of something early on or finding new methods to prevent or alleviate the chronic pain in general.

What Makes Chronic Pain Worse?

There are numerous things that can make chronic pain worse and you may not be aware of some of them. Some of these things are not being active and remaining very sedentary. This doesn’t allow you to condition your body for different forms of activity. The reason this is an issue is because prolonged sitting and laying down can promote stiffness.
Depending on the type of pain you have, let’s say arthritis pain, for example, this could pose an issue and make movement more difficult. Additionally, you’ll want to stay away from inflammatory foods like those loaded with sugar and processed foods which can make the pain worse. Injuries can also cause chronic pain to worsen over time. So, avoiding your physician is something that could make the pain worse because you don’t want to avoid treatment that may be available to you. A few other things that you’ll want to pay close attention to that could make chronic pain worse are:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol excessively
  • Focusing on the pain you have
  • Becoming overly stressed
  • Not taking medications that you were prescribed to help with the pain

Stay On Top of Your Health

Chronic pain is a common problem for seniors and now that we know a bit more about how to be proactive enough to combat chronic pain issues, how to handle chronic pain in general, and what things you should keep from doing to prevent prolonging it, seniors in Florida, or virtually anywhere can have a better handle on their physical health.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for chronic pain, but following a few tips and making some lifestyle changes can make a huge difference in the health of seniors living in Florida.