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BACK PAIN IN THE OLDER AGE GROUP AND HOW TO PREVENT IT…

They say that low back pain is one of the major disabling health conditions among the elderly. Most causes of lower back pain among the elderly are actually wide raging but not life-threatening, as you age you are obviously prone to develop some lower back pain.

As your spine ages, you are bound to feel some aches and pains but it has been found that the age group of 60+ years of age are more likely to develop low back pain due to osteoarthritis problems, fractures, infections, lumbar spinal stenosis and degeneration of the joints in the spine. With time, the spine wears down. The different components, the joints, the discs and the bones, all get weaker.

One of the problems can be nerve pain. With age, discs in the neck and back can degenerate, causing them to herniate or pop out and press on nerves. Enlarged joints and ligaments can also cause nerve pain.

Myofascial pain in the lumbar muscles or piriformis is common among seniors. Myofascial pain is a localized touchable tenderness and tightness within a muscle that resists passive stretching and reproduces a predictable referred pain pattern on touch.

Exercise is an essential tool to keep your low back in good order and one of the best forms is walking. They suggest at least 30 minutes per day of moderately intense aerobic exercise five days per week. Also, calcium and vitamin D supplements, are a critical way to combat the development of bone loss and/or osteoporosis, which can weaken the spine and put you at risk for a broken hip or a spinal fracture.

Increasing core muscular strength can assist in supporting your lumbar spine and is something I am doing with my physiotherapist on a regular basis. She gives me different exercises every time I see her which I do daily. I don’t have too many to do in one session as it can then become more of a chore than just a daily routine and could put some sufferers from doing them. “Little and often” is my physios motto.

Of course we all know that obesity is associated with an increased risk of back pain. Excess weight also tends to prolong the recovery period after episodes of back pain. Every extra pound of weight loss helps to avoid strain on the muscles and ligaments of the back.

As I am sure most of my readers know I am a true advocate of heat. Some people prefer ice but I cannot live without my heat during the winter months in particular. Apart from a heating pad for my bed and for sitting in the lounge I also use them in the car for long journeys. Heat packs will relax muscles and increase the range of motion of the lower back, quickly helping both spasms and stiffness. If your car does not have heated seats you can buy heat packs that plug into your lighter point and are just as good if not better as they can get so warm.

There have been a number of studies that showed a link between cigarette smoking and back pain. They say that the damaged arteries in the discs and joints in your back could lead to pain and injury through smoking. It also increases your risk for osteoporosis.

Proper posture is also very important to keep your bones and joints in alignment. This decreases the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces, reduces stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together and allows your muscles to work more efficiently. 

If you take regular breaks and get up, stretch, and move around regularly throughout the day it will help recharge stiff muscles and low back pain.

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LUPUS AWARENESS MONTH 1st – 31st OCTOBER 2022…

Lupus Awareness Month October 1st – October 31st – Lupus Awareness Month takes place during October in the UK every year. It is an important opportunity to raise awareness of the disease amongst the public and medical profession as well as improve the understanding of the impact that lupus can have.

What is Lupus?

Lupus is an incurable immune system illness, probably genetic in origin and mainly suffered by females. It can affect any part of the body and that’s the danger.

There are two main types of lupus:

  • discoid lupus
  • systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Discoid lupus only affects the skin, causing rashes. People can get it in one small area on the skin, or it can be widespread. SLE can affect many parts of the body in several ways. It can range from mild to severe. There is no cure, but early treatment can help to keep symptoms under control.

Symptoms of Lupus

The three most common symptoms of lupus are:

  • joint pains
  • skin rashes, which may become noticeable after being out in the sun
  • extreme tiredness, known as fatigue.

Some people with lupus will only have these symptoms, though they can still have a big impact on daily life.

Other general symptoms are:

  • ulcers in the mouth or nose
  • hair loss
  • fever
  • weight loss
  • swelling of the lymph glands, in the neck, armpits or groin, or under the chin
  • depression
  • anxiety.

Lupus can affect many different parts of the body, and when internal organs such as the heart, lungs, brain or kidneys are involved it can be much more serious. It’s important to have regular check-ups, and to report any new symptoms to your healthcare professionals.

Most people will only have one or a few of the possible symptoms, and many people find that the symptoms come and go.

It’s unclear why some people get lupus. It’s thought to be the result of a mix of genetic, hormonal and environmental factors. For example, the immune system makes proteins called antibodies that fight infection. In lupus, the body also makes autoantibodies that are similar, but attack the body’s own tissues instead. We’re not sure why this happens. There are some factors that probably make this more likely:

  • an illness or infection
  • strong sunlight
  • hormonal changes, such as during puberty
  • smoking cigarettes
  • some medications – this is known as drug-induced lupus, and this usually gets better when people come off the medication that caused it.

Lupus isn’t directly passed on from a parent to their children, but if you have a close relative with lupus then you may be at increased risk of developing it.

Lupus isn’t contagious, so you can’t catch it from anyone else.

By making people more aware of lupus you can help control its impact. They need your help to raise awareness of lupus, its symptoms and the effects it can have on people’s lives this Lupus Awareness Month.

You can help raise awareness by taking part in the 31-Mile Virtual Challenge – Take part in this fun new virtual challenge and help raise awareness during Lupus Awareness Month! The event takes place in October, and anyone can take part! Walk, run, wheelchair or cycle a total of 31 miles throughout the month by completing 1-mile a day or by taking on three 10.3-mile challenges! It’s not to late to sign up. Sign up HERE

There are lots of ways that you can join the fight against lupus this Lupus Awareness Month just pop down to the Lupus Awareness Month website for more details.

Source: Lupus UK, Versus Arthritis

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WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CAUSE OF A FIBROMYALGIA FLARE-UP?…

What is the biggest cause of a Fibromyalgia flare-up? Well, apparently it’s The Weather – which I am sure most of us knew that anyway. The UK is experiencing the second heatwave of this summer and I know I am suffering at the moment. How about you?

Fibromyalgia flare-ups are a temporary increase in the number and/or intensity of symptoms.  A flare-up can be different from person to person, but for many, it means severe pain, with little to no let-up. A flare-up likely includes debilitating fatigue, even to the point of feeling weak and unable to stand or walk for much length of time. Luckily, worsening symptoms usually have a distinct cause, and with the right approach, they can be treated directly and effectively.

Get to the bottom of intensifying fibro fatigue and discomfort before you try to treat it. Some flare-ups can last a few days to a few weeks and there are a number of causes for them.

Temperature makes a difference in how we feel with Fibro but it can also affect other musculoskeletal disorders. Colder weather seems to make symptoms worse whereas a climate where the temperature remains warmer seems to be less painful for Fibro sufferers.

Arthritis Foundation writes that “People with fibromyalgia do not all experience flares the same way,” Dr Clauw says. “A good way to explain it is that every person with fibromyalgia has their Achilles heel – their ‘thing’ that really gives them trouble. When their fibromyalgia worsens, that particular thing really gets bad.”

There are obviously many other triggers that can create a flare-up which include – physical or psychological stress, hormonal changes, travelling, changes in treatment, diet or poor sleep.

There are five “major weather factors” that can affect our bodies. They are temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, precipitation and wind. We may not be able to control what the weather does, but we can take some steps to try and head off a #fibro flare before it occurs when it is time for a seasonal change.

Researchers have been unable to determine why the changes in weather affect sufferers, however, there are some possible explanations. Firstly, changes in temperature can affect sleep patterns. Getting plenty of sleep is really important if you have fibromyalgia, and even small shifts in your sleep pattern can aggravate the condition. Secondly, as the seasons change, the amount of light you are exposed to can throw off your circadian rhythm (body clock), making you feel low and more tired than usual. Lastly, there may be a connection between low temperatures and pro-inflammatory cytokines, which appear to be connected to pain intensity.

Make a note in your diary of a particular treatment that helped or medication or piece of equipment like a tens machine that helped. Knowing that there is something you can do, use or otherwise for your flare-up, will get you through the worst days and back to controlling it as you normally do.

Do not push yourself. Go slow. Be gentle with yourself. If you can’t do the laundry for a few days, that’s okay. Also, if you can’t get the house cleaned this week, that’s okay.

If you have to cancel plans, that’s okay, do not feel guilty about it. Treat yourself the same way you would a friend that was going through a hard time.

Source: Arthritis Foundation