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Dealing With Extremity Pain: Do They Actually Worsen With Age?

Extremity or limb pain is a discomfort that many individuals face. With the overuse, wear-and-tear, and stress that people endure, it's no wonder that the difficulties of life manifest in people's extremities, and as people get older, it's only natural that these get worse. All too often, people assume that extremity or limb pain is like migraines, a normal part of aging that everyone needs to learn to live with and ignore. However, this isn't true. 

Although there's no known long-term cure for extremity pain, there's a wealth of prevention and treatment options you can try. Doing these preventive methods can help you condition your muscles, bones, and overall body stronger and slow down your body's inevitable deterioration. From exercising to getting natural treatments—you can avoid succumbing to the typical discomforts associated with aging. 

To help you understand more about extremity pain and how you can prevent yourself from succumbing to it, here's everything you need to know—from the common injuries, their causes, and treatment and prevention. 

Common Lower Extremity Pain and their Causes

Diagram Illustrating Common Lower Extremity Pain Points and Their Causes

A person's lower limbs or extremities include the legs, feet, and ankles, controlled by nerves starting in the lower back to your spine. These often get injured due to strenuous activities, general wear-and-tear. 

Here are the most common forms of lower extremity pain in aging adults: 

  • Hip Pain - Pain in the pelvis area is one of the most commonly reported and experienced extremity pain by older individuals. It's often caused by osteoarthritis, causing inflammation and pain to your hips. The radiating pain is typically located throughout the rip region with frequent radiation down to the buttocks, leading to sciatica. This extremity pain can make the simplest daily tasks nearly impossible to do. 
  • Ankle Pain - A person's ankles is the most frequently injured part of the body. Pronation is a condition where the feet flare outward, and your kneecaps rotate inward. It's a common ankle problem, resulting from weak arches that cause the ankle to drop to an unstable position, the stress increases—leading to more pain. 

Pain in these areas usually gets caused by the wrong form or positioning of the body, which eventually resolves when you change the position to a better one. These are often episodic and result from physical trauma and mechanical stress. Besides injuries, the pains mentioned may also be caused by chronic conditions like arthritis, infection, or disease. 

Common Upper Extremity Pain and Causes

Illustration Showing Common Upper Extremity Pain Areas and Associated Causes

A person's upper limbs include the arms, wrists, shoulders, and neck, prone to general wear-and-tear. These body parts often get worn down through repetitive motions in everyday tasks. 

Here are the most common types of upper extremity pain: 

  • Shoulder Pain  - The 'rotator cuff' in your body consists of four muscles and tendons, supporting the shoulder and contributing to nearly all its movements. Numerous factors, including both activity levels and aging, may increase pressure on this area, decreasing their circulation, causing a tear. Besides pain in the shoulders, this may also lead to neck and upper back pain.
  • Wrist and Arm Pain - Carpal tunnel syndrome is when you get a pinched nerve from the narrow tunnel in your wrist, bringing in a tingling sensation in your thumb and first two fingers. Sometimes, the pain can be so severe that you can feel it further up your arms. 
  • Elbow Pain - Discomfort from your elbows are often caused by the classic tennis or golfer's elbow, a repetitive strain injury affecting a person's dominant arm. 

The causes of these are repetitive movements using the same body part, increasing its risk of getting injured. That's why athletes often get trained not only in their primary sports and others as well to mitigate their chances of developing sports injuries across their bodies. 

Treatment and Prevention of Extremity Pain 

Illustration of Various Techniques for Treating and Preventing Extremity Pain

While there's no 'cure' for limb or extremity pain long-term, you can find relief and prevent it from happening through different means, ranging from lifestyle changes, medications to natural treatments.

  • Lifestyle Changes

If you're overweight, the first step in achieving better joint and limb health is shedding those excess pounds. In fact, losing as little as 11 lbs can cut your risk of developing osteoarthritis on your knees by 50%. 

Next, stay active and regularly exercise. You may need to work with a physical therapist or chiropractor for this, helping you create an exercise program that's tailored to your specific condition. All too often, individuals suffering from extremity pain get caught in a vicious cycle where their aching limbs prevent them from exercising, causing their joints to weaken and condition to worsen. So, try to get as much exercise as you can. Experts suggest getting 40 minutes of exercise at least thrice a week can produce ideal results. 

For older individuals, the best exercises to try are biking, walking, yoga, and other generally low-impact exercises that don't put excess pressure on your joints. 

  • Painkillers 

If natural lifestyle changes don't ease your pains, physicians will often prescribe medication, or you can get some over-the-counter (OTC). For instance, for milder discomfort, OTC medicines like Tylenol and aspirin. However, for older individuals taking several medications for chronic conditions like hypertension, physicians may prescribe different painkillers.

Assortment of Painkillers Representing Different Types of Pain Medication

However, if you've tried every natural treatment possible and aren't too keen on trying pain relievers, especially when you're older, a chiropractor can give you the treatment you need. These professionals can ease extremity pain by making careful and precise adjustments to your spine, helping patients improve mobility and reduce stiffness. They typically do hand thrusts of different speeds and pressures to adjust their patients' spines, providing pain relief—long-term. 

If you're looking for a well-rounded chiropractor to help deal with conditions caused by extremity pain, Dr. Zachary Langgle can help. He's a specialist chiropractor and one of the most talented in the market, providing the utmost care to his patients. 

Dr. Langgle treats his patients using gentle and efficient chiropractic techniques, including spinal correction and extremity adjusting. 

Get adjusted today and fight against the growing extremity pain for better long-term health and well-being with Dr. Zachary Langgle.

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