With advances in health awareness, baby boomers, defined as individuals generally born between 1946 and 1964, are the first generation to actively participate in organized and regularly scheduled fitness programs. As a result, many orthopedic and sports medicine specialists, who once thought of their profession as serving the more athletic community, are finding the majority of their patients are baby boomers with complaints of aches and pains associated with overuse of muscles. Never before has the medical community experienced such an overwhelming number of patients with general body pain. Understanding the implication of fitness on the aging population, including baby boomers, healthcare professionals are beginning to not only serve the baby boomer generation’s physical ailments but also developing a program to serve the emotional implications of aging for this same generation. This combination approach to care is becoming more widely practiced in response to what is known as a new medical term, “boomeritis”.
Boomeritis refers to both a physical and mental level of thinking with regard to fitness, physical activity and aging, prevalent among the aging population born between 1946 and 1964. In terms of physical awareness, baby boomers, in an effort to maintain a highly demanding level of physical activity, more so than prior generations, suffer from aches and pains associated with tendonitis, inflammation of joints and bursitis. The complaints are often associated with general aging, deterioration of bones, joints and ligaments with the added influence of minor sports and fitness related injuries. For most healthcare professionals within the orthopedic and sports medicine specialty, the treatment recommendation generally comes in the form of continued movement, although less strenuous. This concept is, in most cases, in the conceptual line of thinking for the baby boomer patient as this generation has the “get up and go” mentality. However, this recommendation, by healthcare professionals to simply keep moving, is not generally what the baby boomer really wants to hear. For the baby boomer generation, the desire to find a quick fix to boomeritis is ideal.
Fortunately, for the baby boomer with aches and pains, where continuous physical movement does not improve the boomeritis condition, medical technology does provides baby boomers with the most advanced non-invasive, and minimally invasive, treatments available. Such treatments can repair rotator cuff tears and knee injuries, in most cases, on an outpatient basis with immediate relief of pain following surgery. For the baby boomer, the immediate relief of the “boomeritis” episode is well received with the return to the pre-injury level of physical activity, generally, within a few days.
In addition to physical complaints, baby boomers often suffer from an emotional or cognitive component of boomeritis. This component of boomeritis attributes to the baby boomer’s anxiety and impatience in terms of therapeutic treatment and often leads to the baby boomer seeking treatment and pain relief of the boomeritis aches and pains immediately. For baby boomers, the ability to maintain the same pre-injury physical activity is vitally important to their emotional well being. One has to wonder if this need to maintain physical well being is not the result of a subconscious desire to compete with the overwhelming population of individuals in the same age group.
In terms of healthcare, boomeritis has become a growing phenomenon within sports medicine and orthopedic practices. With an increase in baby boomer’s aches and pains, these lines of healthcare, more than any other, will see the effects for years to come. As part of the baby boomer’s treatment program for boomeritis, physical recovery and orthopedic and sports medicine professionals may serve the baby boomers through a comprehensive approach in addressing the emotional aspects of aging that so many baby boomers are fighting to avoid.