Remember when you were a kid playing sports in gym class? What happened if you banged your elbow or skinned your knee? Of course, the coach advised you to ‘walk it off!’
Well, not only are you no longer a kid in gym class, but it also turns out that that’s some pretty bad medical advice. In fact, the older you get, the less effective this strategy of walking it off can become. The reality is, as we get older, we can no longer afford to ignore our aches and pains. Attempting to ‘walk it off,’ can actually lead to some very serious consequences.
Listen to Your Body
Pain has a purpose. Oftentimes, its purpose is to let you know when something in your body isn’t in 100% full working order. This is why it’s so important to listen to what your body is telling you. Your back pain may be pointing to a more pressing health concern than a simple pinched nerve. That recurring migraine may be indicative of something more threatening than a simple headache. The only way to find out is to consult your physician. Experts note that ignoring pain can delay treatment for conditions that might require immediate attention.
A recent study says that as many as 60% of seniors living at home and 80% of seniors living in nursing homes experience chronic pain. Another study reveals that, in a survey of 124 seniors in a North Carolina nursing home, only 10% reported experiencing no chronic pain at all.
For most, the underlying cause is arthritis or another chronic condition. In some cases, the pain may be a sign of a more severe underlying cause. Whichever the case, the San Francisco Gate notes that there is some form of therapy or treatment available that can substantially lessen your suffering.
Unfortunately, many seniors simply assume that pain and discomfort are a part of aging. And while this is true to some extent, researchers argue that pain should not be seen as a state of normalcy. Far too many seniors accept these chronic pains and attempt to live around them, as it were.
However, findings suggest that this strategy is problematic. Attempting to manage pain by ignoring or mentally overcoming it can lead to diminished mobility and limited function. This hastened decline of functions actually makes those living with chronic, untreated pain more susceptible to premature death. This means that there may be serious consequences for failing to treat even common conditions like joint deterioration.
What to Look For
You should absolutely consult your doctor for any unexplained pain. Seek a diagnosis and look to rule out anything serious.
If the root of your pain is less mysterious but no less disruptive, look to your doctor or physical therapist for a treatment plan. Pain management is an important part of preserving not just your health but your ability to remain healthy. Accordingly, Home Care Assistance advises that there are a few pains in particular to which you should be attuned.
Physicians advise that any changes in your bowel function or digestion should be treated seriously. The same is true of unexplained bumps, bruises or abrasions. Chronic headaches, exhaustion and fatigue should also prompt a visit to your doctor’s office.
In spite of what you may remember from gym class, walking it off won’t do the trick. Go to your doctor and discuss your options for living pain free.