Health & Wellness

Boomer Edition | 10th Annual | 2014

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Easing Arthritis: Simple Changes Can Keep Disease At Bay by Howard Rothman More than 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, the most common form of the disease and a leading cause of debilitation in this country. Because osteoarthritis results from the progressive degeneration of membranes lining the joints, its incidence increases with age. But there are simple ways to help ward off the pain. Osteoarthritis often develops in the hips, knees, spine and hands, with unusual joint swelling, stiffness or pain signaling the disease, says Dr. Timothy Gensler, a rheumatologist with the Denver Arthritis Clinic. "If you're noticing this on a frequent basis, and it's affecting your quality of life, have it checked," Gensler says. Treatment can include physical therapy, medication, and even surgery as a last resort. But the best option, Gensler says, is addressing key suspected factors whether you suffer from the disease or not: Diet — Excess weight is considered a primary cause, especially in lower extremities. exeRcise — Low-impact activities like walking and swimming increase movement and decrease pain. smoking — Smoking is linked to rheumatoid arthritis and suspected in osteoarthritis. "Stopping is always a good thing," Gensler says. A Pain in the Foot: Common Foot Ailments Can Strike With Age by Debra Melani Aging bones and overstressed ligaments "It rarely requires surgery," Myers can often cause foot ailments in today's says. "It generally gets better with time, baby-boomer population, but home although it can continue coming back." care can sometimes keep the doctor away. Below, foot and ankle special- meDical Rx: Night splints, injecists Dr. Fran Faro of Swedish Medical tions and physical-therapy regimens Center and Dr. Stuart Myers of The are sometimes needed. Medical Center of Aurora offer a quick snapshot of two top troublemakers: Bunions & hammer toes What they aRe: Deformities of Plantar fasciitis the toes and their surrounding joints What it is: Inflammation of the and ligaments (for instance, hammerplantar fascia, the band of tissue that toes can fold up at the joint, creating supports the arch, generally creating a hammer-like appearance, or cross pain on the inner side of the heel. "It over a neighboring toe. "These proboften hurts the first step in the morn- lems have a very strong correlation to ing," Faro says. genetics," Faro says. "Look at your mom's feet; that might be what you home Rx: Stretching the calf with are getting." The deformities are also runner-type stretches, wearing over-the- related to shoe wear, with few cases in counter gel heel cups or arch-supporting underdeveloped countries where shoe shoes, and maintaining a healthy weight. wear is uncommon. home Rx: Modifying shoes for pain-free wear, such as those with a wider toe box. Doing toe exercises: bending, flexing and spreading toes on their own power and using hands. meDical Rx: Surgery – "But only if they are causing discomfort," Myers says. Health & Wellness Magazine • 143

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