It’s not uncommon to hear seniors complain of stiff, achy joints. In fact, the occasional ache and pain, particularly in the knee or hip, are often considered a normal part of aging. However, these occasional aches and pains should not be confused with chronic pain—pain occurring daily for up to six months that interferes with daily activities—which is anything but just another sign of getting older.
Chronic pain is a growing issue among seniors. In fact, research shows that over 50 percent of seniors suffer from chronic pain. And many of these instances of chronic pain are found in the hip or knee.
There are a number of reasons you may be experience chronic pain in your hip or knee. Arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis is one of the most common reasons. Osteoarthritis impacts nearly three million Americans every year and occurs when the flexible tissue at the end of a bone begins to wear down.
Other causes of chronic hip and knee pain in seniors include ligament or cartilage tears, tendinitis, bursitis, and fractures. Hip pain can also be triggered by less obvious causes including hernia in the groin area or sciatica.
Excess weight can also contribute to chronic pain in a hip or knee, particularly in those whose pain is caused by osteoarthritis. In fact, according to the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) losing just 5 percent of your body weight can be enough to alleviate symptoms.
If you are having pain daily in a knee or hip, it’s important to speak with your doctor to not only determine the root cause, but to see if you can find relief through regular physical therapy.
Many seniors wrongly believe that chronic pain can only be relieved through surgery or the long-term use of prescription medications. However, in many cases, your chronic knee or hip pain can be resolved through regular physical therapy exercises such as the following:
Hip Extensions. Good for both hips and knees, this exercise works to strengthen the glute muscles, which in turn, can help alleviate pressure on the ankles, knees and hips.
Core Exercises. Exercises that focus on the core, such as yoga or pilates, are great for balance, overall body strength and pain management, as a strong core helps keep your spine in a neutral position without adding excess stress on the joints.
Strength Exercises. Many seniors wrongly believe that strength exercises aren’t appropriate for their age. However, regular strength training and endurance exercises can increase bone density, reducing the risk of fractures. And even just a small increase in muscle mass has been shown to relieve chronic pain.
Low Impact Activities. Non-weight bearing exercises such as water aerobics, swimming, bicycling or using an elliptical are great ways to get your heart rate up, strengthen muscles and improve mobility without being hard on your joints.
These are just a sample of some of the exercises your doctor or physical therapist may suggest to relieve your chronic hip or joint pain. In many cases, these exercises may be done at home or under the supervision of a physical therapist. The types of exercises and therapy programs will vary based on your unique case.
Franciscan Ministries is dedicated to helping seniors stay happy, healthy and active as they age. Our rehabilitation programs are designed to keep seniors moving. Our one-on-one therapy programs look at the whole person, your life, abilities and goals to create a custom, physician approved treatment program.
And our variety of senior living options and amenities, including regular fitness programs, ensure every resident can stay physically active and fit, no matter their age or physical limitations.
Contact us today to learn more about our communities and services for seniors.