Given last year’s developments, I should rename this blog “Aging and Parkinson’s and Prostate Cancer and Arthritis”… and perhaps dementia? It’s not unusual — as we journey into our 80s — to pick up additional affliction baggage.
When I crashed my car and fractured a vertebrae in August, doctors said the bones would heal in about four months, and the back pain would subside. Sure enough, the December X-rays showed the fracture had healed… but the back pain remained.
I’ve now learned the pain is caused by increasing arthritis in my lower back. Arthritis is a chronic illness that would presumably keep me company until I die, like my Parkinson’s and prostate cancer — which continues to exist, according to PSA tests, after surgery in 1995. Those tests showed the cancer grew very slowly for years, until “my number” took a big leap upward last summer.
Arthritis is something new. But there’s also something old — the No. 1 recommended therapy is EXERCISE.
I’ve written about a variety of ailments. For almost all of them, exercise is up near the top of any list of recommended treatments.
But exercise and arthritis are more difficult for me to reconcile. Sitting or lying down I’m pain free. The back pain kicks in only when I stand up or walk. So I should stand up and walk as therapy for pain that only occurs when I stand up and walk? At the beginning when the pain was fairly intense, I decided against this therapy. But then I began to test the “walk through the pain” recommendation from my back doctor and physical therapist. I soon realized it worked. The pain I felt when I started walking gradually eased as I strolled around the neighborhood.
Stretches for Arthritis Morning Stiffness
For many people with arthritis, morning is the most difficult time of the day. Waking up with joint stiffness or pain is a common complaint. Although morning may seem like the hardest time of day to get moving, doing a few stretches soon after waking can create a more limber start to the day.
WebMD has a good list of stretching tips for people with arthritis, broken down into three sections depending on the part of the body that is affected. See http://bit.ly/vlSF4IVlasic
Fortunately for me, the basic stretching exercises for lower back pain can be done as soon as I wake up, lying in bed. It’s recommended that I do them twice a day, so after my afternoon nap, I do them again. Since these exercises fit so easily into my schedule, I’m already doing them more faithfully than my Parkinson’s BIG regimen. See this link
The stretching exercises seem to be helping. But what really helps is the old faithful — long walks. Fortunately, we’ve been enjoying a mild winter, with a few days each week that cry out for a good walk.
But for those days when the weather sucks — and there’ll be lots more of them in the months ahead — I have an exercise bike and an elliptical trainer in the rec room in front of the TV.
Soon, we’ll look at a few recent theories about intensive biking and other exercises.