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Aches And pains: Aging Or Asthma

I’m older now. I’m not THAT old! But, I am 48. I do feel some body aches and pains. They kind of limit what I can do in the gym. It’s frustrating in a way. So, as I’m doing my workout today, a question pops into my mind: “Are these aches and pains due to aging or asthma? This got me to thinking.

Ascertaining if aches and pains are asthma-related

I’m at the health club.

And I’m working on my biceps. And the exercise I’m doing is a machine. It’s the kind of machine weaklings like me use. Like, the big, muscular, serious weightlifters are in the other room. They are using free weights. They are lifting 300 or 3,000 pounds per arm. And here I am lifting a measly 20 pounds with both arms using a machine.

Like, I waited as an elderly gentleman (way older than me) used this machine before me. When he was finished, I had to reduce the weight from 80 pounds to 20 pounds. The guy was watching as I did this. I quipped, “Does it boost your ego that you can lift more than me?”

He smiled. “I guess I still have strong arms.”

I start working out. And this is when a question enters my mind. “Why am I using this machine? Why has it come to this?”

“Ah!” I think to myself. “No aches and pains when I use this machine.”

I sprained my wrist three years ago.

Maybe it was further back than that. This made it impossible for me to do bicep curls. You’re always told not to lift when you feel pain. So, I didn’t. But, I also didn’t want to lose my progress. So, I visited my doctor.

I told him what I did. My youngest son was sleeping in the bed. He and my wife were taking up most of the mattress. Like, I had only a sliver to sleep on. I woke up as I was falling out of bed. I caught myself with my arm. I thought nothing of it the rest of the night. But, the next day my wrist was swollen and sore. The next day I was unable to do my bicep workout. The pain in my wrist was too much.

My doctor said, “I think it’s a normal pain. If I were you, I would use very light weights. I would gradually increase weights over time. Do this very slowly, even painfully (no pun intended) slowly. I think then you will gradually be able to get back to where you were.”

So I heeded his advice.

And it worked. I gradually increased my weights. I started lifting 5 pounds with each arm. Other than a dull ache in my wrist, this was too easy. I did this for several months. I mean, if I were able to increase weights, I’d be lifting 3,000 pounds per arm by now. But, here I was lifting a measly 5 pounds.

I was able to gradually increase to 20 pounds per arm. But, I was only able to do hammer curls. Any other bicep workout caused me pain. So, fast forward three years. I am still doing hammer curls. I am still using only 20 pounds. Any other combination causes pain.

Is the use of asthma inhaled steroids to blame?

I go back to my doctor.

By now a theory has postulated in my mind.

I said, “Do you think it’s all the inhaled steroids I take? Do you think that might explain why I don’t heal?”

He said, “That’s a good possibility.”

It was neat that he agreed with me. My ego goes up a notch: from 0 to 1.

My doctor is smart. He’s what you’d call a great asthma doctor.

Like me, he keeps up on his asthma research. Like me, he knows there is scanty evidence to support this theory. But, I have been taking inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) for 40 years. So, I’m sure a small amount has seeped into blood vessels lining my airways. It’s possible this causes small amounts of the medicine to get into my system.

Steroids suppress the immune response. ICS aren’t supposed to get into your system. But, I”m guessing just enough has over the years to slow my healing process. This probably explains the bruises that don’t go away. It probably explains the injuries that heal at annoyingly sloth-like speeds.

What to make of this?

Don’t be fooled. I’m no Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not even close. I’m more Hans and Franz-ish. Still, I go through the motions. I try to keep myself healthy. I find this helps with asthma control. Still, it does get frustrating that I’m limited due to body aches and pains. And the question will always linger in the back of my mind: “Are they due to aging or asthma.”

Thoughts?

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Comments

  • Ozark Yankee
    9 months ago

    Have you had a bone density test? Realizing it is a bit different for men…I had osteoporosis three years ago. Part from postmenopausal/age related but also part from many years of steroid inhalers. Made a lot of difference in many aches after two years of Fosamax. Took care of the osteoporosis. I figure it won’t be the last time I have to take it.

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator author
    9 months ago

    Hi. About 35 years ago, when I was on prednisone a lot, I did have a bone density test. Now that you mention it, it may be something worthy of repeating. Thanks. John. Site Moderator.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    9 months ago

    Hi Ozark Yankee and thanks for your post. We appreciate you sharing this information with the community. You may elicit more of a response if you post your concern in our ‘question & answer’ section, which you can access here: https://asthma.net/q-and-a/. As well, you may want to start a conversation on this concern if you post it on our asthma Facebook page – you will find that link conveniently located at the bottom of this page. How does that sound? Leon (site moderator)

  • Shellzoo
    9 months ago

    When I broke my foot, my ortho doctor kept telling me to stop smoking because it affects healing. Since I never have smoked, I did not give much thought to this but perhaps lack of good oxygenation leads to poor healing? Also, you have to wonder even with good rinsing, if some amount of steroid is ingested when you use your inhaler and the effect of that over time? Plus if our lung capacity naturally decreases with age, does that affect exercise tolerance? I still to this day don’t understand why my ortho doctor was so insistent about the smoking since I don’t smoke but he did say that adds time to the healing process. Nice article that leaves me with lots of questions.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    9 months ago

    Hi Shellzoo and thanks for your post. We appreciate your input and questions following the publishing of John’s article. Your question about exercise tolerance is a good one. Naturally, exercise tolerance and stamina can be affected by lung function and capacity. The concern would be how much of one’s lung function is actually compromised prior to it affecting the ability to exercise. That would be a very individual answer and would vary from patient to patient. Thanks for your input. Leon (site moderator)

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