Growing Old Is Not For Sissies


Richard Davis

As we age our bodies, with few exceptions, start wearing out. Every creature lives and dies and in between those two ends they age. Some of us are able to accept aging better than others but no matter our outlook, we all have to deal with bodily changes that annoy and pain us.

As parts wear out such as knees and hips it can become a matter of choosing the right time to replace them now that we have the technology and expertise available to us. Most people that choose to have new knees and hips are happy with the outcome and they are able to get on with their lives much easier with less pain and greater mobility. Those are the relatively easy aging body parts to deal with.

Backs are another issue. It is rare for someone not to have some degree of back discomfort as they head into the second half of their life. For some people it is a question of how much pain they are willing to accept before they seek treatment. I suspect many people soldier on and hope things don’t get worse because they know that once they look for a fix things might get complicated.

Then there are those for whom any level of pain or discomfort is intolerable. Among that group are people who think that everything can be fixed. They believe that modern medicine has the cure and that they will find it if they look hard enough. That may be a reasonable approach for some people but it needs to be tempered with a good dose of common sense.

We do live in an age of micro-surgery and innovative ways to alleviate the problems that cause back pain. It is not unusual for a person to have a procedure and then have little or no pain for many years- what might be called a cure. I am not a surgeon and make no claim at expertise other than having had to deal with back issues for many years.

But there are back problems that don’t have an easy fix. It is definitely worth exploring options, but I think people have to always keep in mind the possibility that the treatment could end up being worse than the original problem. A surgical fix never has a guarantee of outcome. There are always side effects and there may be unforeseen consequences.

Once you cut into a body or do any invasive procedure you run the risk of scar tissue and the possibility of more, instead of less, pain. Back treatment can be a crap shoot and straightforward doctors will often be honest enough to tell you that. Getting as much information as you can and making an informed decision is the best you can do.

Also try to understand that traditional allopathic medicine has a narrow window of options when it comes to treating disease. There are other options such as yoga, homeopathy, naturopathy and too many to mention. When it comes to pain, especially back pain, it is worth the effort to explore less traditional treatment options, including those that influence the mind as well as the body.

Of course there are many other age-related problems that develop that cause not only pain but other troubling symptoms. Just about any organ or body part can give you trouble as you age. I think the same rules can apply to non-orthopedic issues as well, meaning that gathering information and making informed decisions is a solid strategy. Just keep in mind that not everything can be fixed and that you have to learn to accept some of the changes that you may not have as much control over as you would like.

I am reminded of a trite but true comment on aging. Growing old is not for sissies.

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