Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Arthritis and Aging

Contrary to popular belief, there is joy that comes with aging. There’s seeing your children bloom into responsible self-sustaining adults. There’s having the time to do what you want during the day. There are decades-long friendships that bring immense satisfaction.

But does suffering from arthritis have to be part of aging? Is arthritis inevitable, as you grow older?

“There are some who think it is unavoidable,” says Susan Levy, M.D. “And certainly, we see an increase in arthritis as people age “

But there’s a catch.

“Some people may not have any symptoms of arthritis although they may still show indications of arthritis,” says Dr. Levy, who is the medical director at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital and Courtland Gardens Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.

In other words, you could have arthritis but have no, or very minimal, physical ailments of the disease. And that is very good news. Staying physically active, getting a handle on stress and remaining – or getting to – a healthy weight can make all the difference.

Over the counter medication can be all that is needed for moderate arthritic symptoms, Dr. Levy says. “And some people can see a benefit from chrondroitin and glucosamine, the dietary supplements are commonly used for arthritic joint pain. “There is clinical evidence that chrondroitin and glucosamine can benefit some people,” she says.

But you may want to save your money if looking into other herbal options. “There is not really good evidence about other herbal remedies.” Dr. Levy says.

Exercising muscles around the joint to build strength and flexibility can help. And listen to your body when it comes to how much exercise is too much, she says. “Your own discomfort will tell you.”

If you are suffering with severe problems that do not go away such as swollen joints, see your doctor immediately. You don’t have to suffer in silence. To make an appointment, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

-Sandra Crockett

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