Ageing and aches

‘ A ‘ is for aches. Ask someone in their seventies how they are, and they’re likely to say,’ alright, but for the usual aches and pains’. As we get older, rheumatic ailments are among the most common reasons for people to go and see their doctor, and women are three times more likely to suffer from them than men. The three O’s are often the villains.

Osteoarthritis happens when the tissue that connects the joints of knees, hands, hips and spine (the cartilage) wears away, leaving the surface of the bones with less protection. Sometimes the pain disappears for long periods before returning. Regular but gentle exercise can be helpful. Acute cases may require an operation such as a hip replacement.

Osteoporosis is caused by a lack of calcium. As you get older the ability to absorb calcium from food can be reduced. The bones become more brittle and although it is mainly a painless complaint, if you fall you are more prone to fracture.

There may be a loss of height with the sort of ‘shrinking’ that some older people experience. Calcium supplements can be helpful as well as a balanced diet, a phrase we shall meet many times during these articles!

Osteomalacia is a softening of the bones, causing aches and tenderness in bones, weakness in muscles and a general run-down feeling. It’s caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D. So if you are troubled by this condition, and you live in Spain you have the advantage over the rest of us, for Vitamin D is produced in the skin by sunlight. Again a vitamin supplement –prescribed by a doctor (that’s important) – can do the trick, for this condition is curable.

If you suffer from these or other rheumatic pains, here are six sensible things you can do.

  • Make sure there are no safety hazards in your house
  • Have regular but not too strenuous exercise
  • Get out into the sunshine as often as possible (with the obvious protection from creams)
  • Don’t get overweight
  • Maintain a good posture whether sitting or standing
  • Keep warm – and baths are probably better than showers