Drugs not always needed to treat arthritis pain
People with osteoarthritis may find many non-drug ways to relieve pain. The National Institutes of Health has released several methods that do not involve drug medications.
- Heat and cold: May be applied in different ways. Heat can increase blood flow and ease pain and stiffness. Cold packs can reduce inflammation. Check with a doctor or physical therapist to find out if heat or cold is the best treatment.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, TENS: Uses a small electronic device to direct mild electric pulses to nerve endings that lie beneath the skin in the painful area.
- Massage: A massage therapist may lightly stroke and/or knead the painful muscles to increase blood flow and bring warmth to a stressed area. However, arthritic joints are sensitive, so the therapist must be familiar with the problems of the disease.
- Acupuncture: Some people find pain relief using acupuncture. Scientists think the needles stimulate the release of natural, pain-relieving chemicals produced by the nervous system.
Aggressive blood pressure treatment for elderly gains support
People who get their high blood pressure down to normal levels may substantially cut their risk of heart disease — even if they’re elderly or have already had heart problems, new research suggests.
The results from a major clinical trial, Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, add to evidence that aggressively treating high blood pressure in older adults can pay off. Specifically, experts said, the benefits appear to extend to elderly and less-healthy patients.
That might sound obvious. But for years there has been “major controversy” over whether such intensive treatment is even safe for older people, explained Dr. Dalane Kitzman, a cardiologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Some of the most important results focus on heart failure — a chronic condition in which the heart muscle cannot pump efficiently enough to meet the body’s needs. Kitzman’s team found that patients on tight blood pressure control were 38 percent less likely to be hospitalized for worsening heart failure. And even those at increased risk of heart failure benefited.
Walking Fido can be doggone good for your health
Taking the dog for a walk may unleash a host of health benefits for older Americans, new research suggests.
Dog walking helps cut back on excess weight by raising moderate and vigorous exercise levels among the over-60 set, investigators found.
Further, the strong emotional bonds formed between owner and pet offer social benefits, encouraging increased contact with other pet owners.
Studies have shown dogs provide a motivation to get out and walk.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all adults, regardless of age, rack up a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity every week. Walking happens to be the most frequent exercise activity among adults 60 and up.