(ĐTĐ) - An ache here, a cramp there. As your body ages, you may have more and new pains. There are things you can do to feel better.
In Your 30s
Your 30s can be a hectic time of life. Stress at work and home is common at this age -- and can lead to headaches.
Sitting at a computer all day with your head in one position can strain your neck and cause your head to hurt, says Paul B. Langevin, MD, an anesthesiologist at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia.
The Fix. To relieve stress, try deep breathing exercises. Treat yourself to a gentle massage or a warm bath.
To ease head pain from sitting at a computer, "try stretching your neck muscles by turning your head to the right, then left," suggests Allen Towfigh, MD, a neurologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, "then gently trying to touch your ear to your shoulder in each direction."
A hot compress or over-the-counter pain medicine may also bring relief.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Pain in your wrists and hands can be caused by a pressed nerve in your wrist. Your genes and past injuries can make you more likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome, but so can typing on keyboards, cell phones, tablets, and computer games, Langevin says.
The Fix. If you can, take a break from making the same motions over and over, like typing or texting.
Make sure your workspace is set up correctly. For example, while typing at a keyboard:
- Sit against the back of the chair with your shoulders relaxed.
- Keep your elbows at your side and your wrists straight.
- Plant your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest.
Also, try using a wrist brace. Physical therapy and exercises that build up hand and arm muscles can also help. See a doctor if it doesn’t improve. Some people need surgery for this problem.
In Your 40s and 50s
As you age, stress on the spine from bad posture, a poor workplace set-up, and the wrong sleeping habits can all bring on lower back pain.
The Fix. Pay attention to your posture and how you lift things. "Ideally people should not lift more than 25% of their body weight without assistance," Langevin says. Look at your workplace arrangement. Is your chair the right height? Is your computer screen where it needs to be? Make adjustments if needed, says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of From Fatigued to Fantastic! Does your back ache in the morning? Consider buying a new mattress, or trying a new position for sleeping.
Over-the-counter medications like aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen can help relieve pain and reduce swelling. Try physical or chiropractic therapy, or exercise like Pilates or yoga. If you still don’t feel relief, talk with your doctor.
Muscle Strain and Tendinitis.
The payback for pushing yourself too hard gets worse as you age. Repeated strain on your arm from things like cleaning and cooking can cause chronic shoulder pain, says Vik Ahluwalia, a physical therapist in the Detroit area. Repetitive fitness activities like weight lifting and running can also cause problems.
The Fix. Stretch, and pace yourself when you exercise. Don’t prolong your workout. Cut back on a sport if it's causing inflammation or injury from doing it too often, says Michael J. Cooney, a Rutherford, NJ, chiropractor who specializes in sports injuries.
Try the RICE method: the combination of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines can help reduce soreness and pain.
In Your 60s, 70s, and Beyond
12.4 million Americans 65 and older have this. It causes joint pain, swelling, and stiffness in your hips, knees, and lower back.
The Fix. Get moving, and keep your weight in check.
Being active is essential. "At this age, a stationary lifestyle is more risky than the risk of a physical injury," Cooney says. Choose an exercise program that includes weight training for muscles and bones and aerobic activity for heart health.
Slow, gentle stretching can improve flexibility and help with stiffness. Strength exercises lessen pain by easing the burden on joints.
Losing weight can also reduce strain on your joints and ease pain.
Over-the-counter medication may help with pain and inflammation. Your doctor may also be able to prescribe something to help.