FROM OUR EXPERTS
Since I started writing this column we’ve been bouncing around with various thoughts on arthritis, activity and other issues of joint health. In all the excitement I fear we may have missed a few things, so on that note, we will put things to right.
As mentioned, one of the most impressive things I saw as a medical student was a person walking normally on two artificial hips . This was no small miracle as, so long as your arthritis is in your knees and hips, you are in luck. Unfortunately, some folks are - as they say - “riddled” with arthritis . For these souls, one or two joint replacements only makes life minimally better. They might have disease in many joints - the wrists, ankles, spine, etc. - that are not always amenable to surgery. It was some 10 years into my practice in New Hampshire that I finally uttered these words to a patient: Have you considered moving someplace warm ? Low tech and old-school though it is, walking across an icy parking lot in a Northeas...
Now that the weather is turning better and you are starting to shake off those wintertime pains, a walk might sound pretty good right about now. But before you burst out the door with the dog straining at the leash and your brand new walking shoes looking so sparkly, stop to think about what you are doing first. Even though walking seems so easy, there are a few things that could help your first walk of the season be that much more enjoyable and also less likely to cause a flare-up of pain.
First, let's talk about that dog straining at the leash. You are likely to lose that tug-o-war battle and end up with worse pains than when you started your walk. You are supposed to be the one walking the dog, not the dog walking you. Take charge of your walk by expecting the dog to be following you, not out in front of you. As someone who has rescued and trained many excitable bird dogs that want nothing more than to chase small critters, I prefer the Higgins Method for walking a dog .
Try not to call it a cane. Instead, calling this assistive device a "walking stick" or even a "trekking stick" evokes more positive images of youth, vigor, and an active lifestyle. This handy object can assist you in easing many types of pain. All the way down the chain, from the low back to the feet, a walking stick can reduce the stress and strain that comes with everyday activities or a walk in the woods.
Researchers in Australia recently showed that the use of a cane reduced the load on the knee by 10%. By reducing knee joint stress, the pain, swelling, and stiffness is less likely to become debilitating. Knee arthritis plagues many people who line up for knee replacement surgery. That surgery can be postponed and activities can continue with a little help from a walking stick or two. That's right, two. Some of the most avid hikers in the world use two trekking sticks to help support their bodies over the uneven terrain. Not only does this technique reduce the load on ...
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