As we all know, arthritis can completely debilitate elderly sufferers, stealing your mobility and significantly altering your day to day habits. You’ll try anything to ease the nagging of spinal pain. Walking, bending, and stooping are just a few activities that can trigger painful symptoms. There’s nothing worse than being in severe discomfort when you’re trying to sleep at night – and don’t get me started on trying to get back out of bed. The condition isn’t limited to the elderly, as imaging scans showed 36% of adults younger than 45 suffered from moderate to severe spinal osteoarthritis, followed by 67% of 45 to 64-year-olds and finally 89% of those aged older than 65. So, you are not alone.
Did you know? The spinal column consists of 33 individual bones known as vertebrae which form a pillar – allowing you to stand – by being stacked on top of each other, separated by disc cushions (cartilage).
Conventional approaches to spinal arthritis include anti-arthritic medication and painkillers, but they only go so far in adequately addressing the problem – as such, further intervention, exercises and small habits can make a huge difference. Physical therapy to strengthen back muscles is recommended, weight loss, chiropractic manipulation or acupuncture are other avenues. Surgery is considered a final solution. Symptoms of spinal arthritis range from dull aches to obnoxiously sharp pains that just won’t go away, here are a few symptoms:
- Intermittent back pain and stiffness during or after getting out of bed in the morning.
- Weakness and numbness extending to the buttocks and even the thighs.
- Pain and tenderness in the neck.
- A pinching sensation at the base of the back or in nerves as a result of the growth of bone spurs.
- In the lower back, nerve irritation due to a herniated disc can cause tingling and discomfort that even spreads to the feet.
- Arthritis that causes spinal stenosis may even lead to difficulty walking.
- If you lose bowel control this is considered an emergency symptom – seek medical help immediately.
If you’re looking to alleviate these symptoms in the comfort of your own home, there are some exercises you can try. Note – be sure not to overdo any of the following activities to avoid injury. Here they are:
- Flexibility – You can perform this in bed, making it the simplest of the exercises on this list. Firstly, lie on your back with your knees bent, feet touching the bed. Then, rotate your pelvis towards your chest, keeping your mid-back area flat on the bed. Do not push too far, remember to take any activity slowly. This should help to stretch and improve mobility in the lower back by loosening muscles.
- Reach! – The second exercise for you to try can be done while seated. Sit with your back straight, ensuring that you have some space behind you. Now, take both hands behind your back and interlace your hands, arms or elbows if easier. As you reach back, inhale deeply, allowing your back to stretch, rolling your shoulder blades. Hold this for 3-5 deep breaths, before you exhale and relax. Repeat 3 times.
- The Cat-Cow – No, this isn’t a product of weird science. This stretch will directly target your lower back. From your neutral seated position, place your feet on the floor and position your knees at a 90-degree angle. Take your hands and place them on your knees, fingers facing each other. Inhale slowly, and as you exhale apply pressure through your hands arch your back, so that your behind is pushed out somewhat. Use your entire spine and look up to the sky. As you inhale again, arch your back the opposite way by pushing your shoulders towards your knees and drop your chin to your chest. Remember not to extend too far. Slow your breathing and continue to reverse the arch in your back. Repeat 3-5 times.
- Let’s do the twist! – Another seated exercise is the back twist. From a neutral seated position, straighten your back and reach into the air. Next, turn the upper section of your chest to the right and left, gently.
- The Bridge – Here we have another trick you can try while lying down but may be a little trickier if you suffer from neck pain. Lying down, bend your knees and place your legs on the bed once again. Then, keeping your shoulder blades planted to the surface, push your pelvis into the air as high as you can comfortably manage. Use deep breathing to inhale on the stretch and relax once again on the exhale. Alternate so that you rotate each way at least twice.
Be sure to try any of these exercises or all of them; it’s entirely up to you. Remember to take it easy and look out for yourself. Do not attempt any of the activities above if they cause you moderate or severe pain. The aim is to stretch and ease your back muscles gently. If you’d like to set up a consultation, be sure to contact us!