Are you experiencing a lot of leg pain, even though you know you didn’t injure yourself?
Leg pain is a common issue that almost everyone will experience at some point throughout their lives. Weakness, numbness, tingling, swelling, and especially varicose veins are some of the problems women experience as they get older. You may not be able to reverse aging, but you can manage and even avoid these common leg problems. Diet changes, proper posture, physical activity, and enough rest are some simple yet effective ways to prevent and manage many of these issues. Keep reading to find out more about the common leg issues in older women and how to avoid them!
Common Leg Problems for Older Women and Their Causes
Varicose veins are probably the number 1 cause of leg pain in aging moms. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause, weight fluctuations, birth control, or other hormone replacement therapies, all put you at great risk of developing varicose veins. Your lifestyle can also have a big impact on your risk of developing varicose veins. A sedentary job can lead to poor circulation.
Did you know standing all the time is just as bad as sitting? Both can lead to poor circulation, which in turn affects the blood vessels leading to spider veins or varicose veins.
Aching legs can have different causes, from simple, easy to fix ones like poor-fitting shoes, to more complicated ones, like poor circulation and arthritis. Arthritis is a condition that progresses with age and can lead to joint inflammation. If you choose to “treat” the pain by not moving, the inactivity may lead to more serious issues impacting your muscle, ligaments, and tendons. It is best to keep moving the affected limb, to maintain its mobility.
Leg weakness is usually due to a nutritional deficiency. Seniors often lack vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and even iron, all of which can affect seniors. Consuming a healthy diet is the first step in avoiding these deficiencies. Once they are present, supplementation may be required to correct them, so make sure you talk to a doctor.
Also, if you’re on any medication, pay close attention to their side effects. For instance, diuretics are known to lower your potassium and sodium levels, which in some people can lead to leg weakness.
Numbness or Tingling of Legs
Numbness and/or tingling are symptoms that can signal a wide range of issues. Poor circulation, nutritional deficiencies, poor-fitting shoes are common, easy-to-fix problems.
When the numbness and tingling persists and doesn’t seem to be related or alleviated by changes in posture, movement, or shoes, some more serious issues could be the root cause. Lower back issues such as sciatica and bulging disks are a common problem in seniors and one that comes with leg pain and even numbness or tingling.
Diabetes, especially when left untreated, can also lead to leg problems such as diabetic neuropathy. This condition starts with numbness, tingling, and pain in the feet, but it can quickly progress to the legs.
Swelling is usually caused by water retention and/or poor circulation. It is not uncommon for women to find themselves with swollen, painful legs at the end of a long day. Poor posture, high heels, standing, or sitting all day are all things that impact the blood flow to the feet leading to swelling and pain.
Arthritis and injuries to tendons and ligaments can also lead to inflammation, which in turn leads to swelling and pain in the legs. Vein issues, such as deep vein thrombosis or varicose vein are other common causes of swelling in the legs.
How to Avoid Common Leg Problems for Aging Moms
Believe it or not, diet truly is the first step to prevent many diseases, including leg problems. A healthy, balanced diet, filled with nutritious whole foods can help prevent nutritional deficiencies. Sure, supplementing is always possible, but it is always better to get your vitamins and minerals from food instead of turning to pills.
A good diet can also help you maintain a stable weight. Constant weight fluctuations put a lot of pressure on your body, muscles, joints, and ligaments, and can lead to leg problems such as varicose veins. When it comes to circulatory issues, prevention is always easier than treatment, so aim to eat in a way that sustains your body’s health.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed as you read this, know that eating a healthy diet doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need to throw everything out of your pantry. You can start by including certain foods that will help you feel better, have more energy, and more restful sleep. Keep in mind that diet isn’t just about the foods you eat. Hydration is equally important. Dehydration can lead to leg cramps and even fluid retention.
Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. At that point, you’re already dehydrated. If you exercise, add another glass of water to your day, to make up for the fluids you lose through sweat.
Staying active may seem easier said than done, especially when you have a full schedule. As you’re aging, your schedule might start to free up, but now you don’t feel like hitting the gym anymore.
Physical activity doesn’t require fancy apparel or even a gym. It doesn’t even require certain exercises. It can be as easy as doing a few stretching to improve mobility and the joints and muscles or taking a brisk walk outside.
Find the right ways to motivate yourself and you’ll see how easy staying active is. After all, it can help prevent circulatory issues, and it is crucial in conditions such as arthritis.
Good posture for proper blood circulation
Eating right and being active is great, but without proper posture, circulatory issues are bound to appear sooner or later. For instance, if you sit for an extended period without a proper posture, your muscles are fatigued and the blood vessels compressed. That’s why changing positions frequently, using an ergonomic chair, and making sure you have a good posture are crucial for preventing leg problems.
Many women also like to sit crossed-legged. This is another bad habit that will eventually lead to circulatory issues in the legs.
If you’re sitting on a low chair, try to adjust that because it can cause your legs to bend at an unhealthy angle that will interfere with circulation and cause swelling in the legs.
Getting enough sleep
Believe it or not, sleep is just as important as exercise and the right diet. It is part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle regardless of age or health issues. Lack of sleep puts so much stress on your body and can cause a lot of health issues. It impacts your mood, your appetite, your overall energy levels, and even your heart rate. Chronic sleep deprivation will slowly impact all the major systems in your body. Nutritional deficiencies, water retention, poor circulation will eventually come up.
The more sleep-deprived you are, the more difficult it will be to eat right and stay active, so the problems will just keep piling up. In other words, make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night. Try to establish a routine both around bedtime and in the morning.
Go to sleep and wake up at approximately the same time every day and try to stay away from monitors for at least an hour before you go to bed. This will allow you to have a health circadian rhythm that will promote a good sleep throughout the night.
Consulting your doctor for bone or vein-related problems
Sometimes prevention isn’t enough. Bone and vein-related problems should be checked by a doctor. Physical activity, diet, compression socks are all great at-home remedies to reduce the symptoms.
To make sure you’re making the correct changes and your exercises, for instance, aren’t doing more damage than good, consult a specialist. They’ll be able to correctly assess your condition and suggest the right type of treatments.
Preventions and Solutions for Persistent Leg Pain
Most leg problems should be alleviated through at-home treatments such as exercise, compression socks, posture changes, and a good diet. However, sometimes, the problem persists or may even seem to get worse. In this case, your best option is consulting a bone or vein specialist, that can help you with targeted medical treatments.
The procedures will depend on what is causing the issue. If it is a vein problem radiofrequency vein ablation, injection sclerotherapy, or ambulatory phlebectomy.
Pinched nerves may require lumbar epidural steroid injections, selective nerve root blocks, facet injections, and more. Your doctor will walk you through the best options and together, you’ll decide the treatment that suits you the most.
If you don’t know where to start looking for such a specialist, you can check out VISPdocs, a vein specialist based in Arizona that can help you with lower back pain or any leg problems, whether they’re caused by poor circulation, varicose veins, pinched nerves, or more.