Last week I was talking with a patient about age related joint changes that were contributing to his knee pain and finished off with “Ah, the joys of getting older.” “Well Neil,” he says, “you have 2 choices there. You can either get older or you can get deader!”
This pearl of wisdom led me recall a conversation I witnessed between my nephew, Josh, then 4 years old, and my Dad (Josh’s Grandad). Josh was trying to get a handle on family dynamics as his Grandad pushed him on the swing. “So,” he said, “when I have a son, I’ll be his Dad and my Dad will be called Grandad?” “Yep, that’s right,” Grandad replied, “and I’ll be Great-Grandad.” “No, that’s not right,” Josh replied. “I’ll be Dad, my dad will be Grandad…… and you’ll be dead!”
What these two stories highlight is the fact that getting older is unavoidable. However, it still riles me when I see a patient and they tell me that the specialist has told them to just live with whatever complaint they have, because “well, after all, you are 70 you know.” Getting older may be unavoidable, but living with pain and accepting a deteriorating quality life as we get older is not something that I accept as a normal part of ageing.
Yep, sure, there is of course the natural wear and tear that happens to our bodies as we age. These changes can be very severe depending on the amount of abuse or challenges we have incurred during our lives. But, I always tell my patients who think that their pain is related to getting older that they have to make a choice. They can either choose to sit in the corner watching life go by or they can choose to do something about their pain and function.
For most of us, improving our health is just that. It is a choice. At Physique we have hundreds of patients that we regularly see as part of a treatment program aimed at decreasing the pain and loss of quality of life associated with the effects of body wear and tear. A combination of joint mobilisation, muscle release techniques and an individualised home exercise program is generally of great benefit to our patients.
However, no amount of treatment can compare to the benefit of regular, gentle exercise. So, if you think that getting older means that you just have to live with debilitating pain, I challenge you to make a choice to do some daily exercise and see what happens. Start off with a small walk or a gentle swim. Increase how long you can go slowly, but consistently, and see how much better you feel in 3 months. Of course if you feel like you need some extra help give us a call at Physique.
Josh is now 14 and hates us telling that story. His Grandad is still going strong and wants to live at least another 20 years, just to prove that Josh was wrong!