(ĐTĐ) – At some point in life, many people just don’t feel the way they used to. The run that once cleared their head now just makes them uncomfortably aware of their knees. Or they’ve got achy joints that make them feel “old.”
Although it is not uncommon with age to experience new aches, it isn’t normal to be in pain; that’s a sign that something is amiss.
No two pains are alike, and it’s hard to predict what you may feel as you age. But there are certain pains that are more common at certain ages. Here’s a look at the types of pain that sometimes accompany aging — and what to do about it.
4 Golden Rules for Pain
No matter what your age or ailment, heed these guidelines when you feel pain:
Deal with it head on. “Sucking it up” or denying pain is never a good idea, says Michel Dubois, MD, director of research and education and professor of clinical anesthesiology at the NYU School of Medicine.
Acute pain — the kind that comes on suddenly — should be treated as quickly as possible to prevent it from becoming a chronic pain condition, which is defined as pain lasting more than three months.
Check on vitamin D. Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels to make sure you’re not deficient. According to Sam Moon, MD, MPH, associate professor in the division of occupational and environmental medicine at Duke University Medical Center, vitamin D can be helpful in preventing micro fractures and alleviating pain that stems from fractures associated with osteoporosis.
Avoid obesity. Extra pounds put tremendous strain on the body, increasing your chances of experiencing chronic joint and lower back pain.
Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can worsen pain and contribute to muscle tightness and depression. If you aren’t sleeping well, and changes like going to bed earlier and developing good sleep habits don’t help, check with your doctor to see if you have a sleep disorder and find out what can be done to help you get a good night’s rest.
Watch for depression. Chronic pain is often accompanied by depression, which often goes unrecognized. Depression not only makes it more difficult to deal with physical pain, it magnifies it. If you have chronic pain, tell your doctor how you’re feeling emotionally.
In Your 30s
Pain problem: Headaches
Headaches are one of the most common types of pain experienced by people in their thirties, Moon says.
Although headaches can plague people throughout their lives, they seem to be more common in midlife, Moon says.
Studies have shown that migraines, which are two to three times more common in women than in men, tend to peak between ages 35-45. Tension-type headaches — the most common type of headache — feature constant (rather than throbbing) pain and pressure, and may increase with age.
The fix: Seek solutions.
The cause of many headaches is unknown, which can make treatment tricky. So if one treatment hasn’t worked, persist and try another.
“Work with someone you trust to get a diagnosis,” Dubois says. “There are treatments for each of these [headache] conditions,” he says. “But don’t expect instant reward.”
If you get migraines, Moon suggests identifying your migraine triggers. “Many people are sensitive to lights, foods, wines, or cheese. “Sometimes not eating regularly or caffeine withdrawal can be the trigger,” Moon says.
Acupuncture and mind/body techniques, such as yoga, mindfulness stress reduction and relaxation training, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be helpful for headaches, as well as for chronic pain of any kind.
Pain problem: Straining the Body
In your 30s, you may start paying — in pain — if you push yourself physically the way you did when you were younger.
Overuse syndromes such as muscle pain and tendonitis — an inflammation of the tendons, which attach bone to muscle — are also common during the 30s. Lower back pain may start for some people at this age, along with problems with the rotator cuff (shoulder) and tennis elbow in the late 30s and early 40s, Moon says.
The bottom line: Your margin of error is shrinking. You’re less likely to get away with repetitive motions done with bad joint alignment.
The fix: Get your body in sync.
“You must learn the proper way to use your body that takes full advantage of how the body is designed,” Moon says.
That means being mindful of things like using your legs when you lift to avoid putting pressure on your back and avoiding working with your arms above your head, which puts too much pressure on your neck and shoulders.
Pay attention to how you use your body during hobbies, cooking, driving, and other daily activities. By changing the tools you use, the way you sit at your desk — anything that can pull your body out of proper alignment — you will protect yourself from future injury and pain.