Arthritis in seniors
As we all grow older, our bodies will start to change. In some cases, this change means that some will gradually become more susceptible to different illnesses and diseases. One of these is arthritis.
Arthritis is an illness, which affects the joints. It is an inflammation that can affect one or more joints at the time.
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, with different causes and treatment methods. Usually, the symptoms of arthritis will develop over time, and it will appear slowly.
Who can be affected by arthritis?
Generally, everybody can be affected by arthritis, although it is most common in seniors. Another aspect to it is that it is also more common in women than men.
“On average 26% of women are affected, where only 18% of men are”
What causes arthritis?
Inside your joint’s there is a flexible tissue named cartilage. The purpose of this is, to absorb the pressure and shock created when you move, and put stress on the joints. Whenever there is a reduction in the normal amount of this cartilage tissue, it can cause some forms of arthritis.
As there are different forms of arthritis, the causes of arthritis also vary. Normal wear and tear will cause Osteoarthritis (OA).
This is one of the most common type of arthritis where an infection or injury to the joints can exacerbate the natural breakdown of cartilage tissue.
“The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which affects an estimated 31 million Americans”
Another common form is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). This is an autoimmune disease where your body’s immune system will attack other tissue. These attacks on the tissue will affect the synovium. This is a soft tissue in your joints that produces a fluid. This fluid nourishes the cartilage and lubricates the joints.
This type of arthritis invades and destroys your joints. It can eventually lead to the destruction of both bone and cartilage inside the joints.
At this point in time scientists do not know the exact cause of the immune system’s attacks. However, they have discovered genetic markers that can increase your risk of developing RA.
How does your life change after you’ve got the diagnosis of arthritis?
Once you’ve got the diagnosis of arthritis there are some different precautions you can take and the first would be to know what the different symptoms are. You should also know what to be aware of before you get the diagnosis.
What are the symptoms of arthritis?
When it comes to the symptoms, there are some different signs you should be aware of. These include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. You might also experience that your range of motion will decrease.
Some people will also experience some redness of the skin, around the joints.
“Many people with arthritis notice their symptoms are worse in the morning”
All of these can be indicators of arthritis. To be absolutely sure, you should talk to your doctor.
How can you prevent arthritis?
Staying on a healthy diet and being active and exercise regularly can in some cases prevent you from developing arthritis. It can also reduce your symptoms if you have already been diagnosed with arthritis.
Another thing you can is eating foods rich in antioxidants. These include fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. This can also help reduce inflammation.
There are also other inflammation-reducing foods and these include fish and nuts.
If you have arthritis you should avoid, or minimize, foods that are fried and processed. You should also minimize dairy products and high intakes of meat.
As mentioned before, exercise should be part of your daily routine because exercising will keep your joints flexible. Especially swimming is a good type of exercise because it does not put pressure on your joints.
“However, you should never overexert yourself and always rest when you feel the need to do so”
Another option could be exercising at home. Down below we’ve listed some exercise types you can do at home in the comforts of your house. These include:
- The head tilt, neck rotation, and other such types, to relieve pain in your neck
- Finger- and thumb bends to ease the pain in your hands
- Leg Raises
- Hamstring stretches where you, for instance, lie on your bed and place the heel of one foot on the wall, or the headboard. You should then form a wider than 90-degree angle with your leg. You can also lie on the floor.
Living with arthritis
Just because you have been diagnosed with arthritis you shouldn’t let yourself becomes limited in your movements and hobbies. Know your limits and take them into consideration. Know your body, so to speak, and learn the different signals it sends you.
Knowing your own limitations will also make it easier for you to know what activities you can and can’t do. You will probably also start some sort of treatment. You will have to learn what works best for you and take the precautions you need to.
“The main goal of treatment is to reduce the amount of pain you’re experiencing and prevent additional damage to your joints”
As people are different there are, of course, different ways of treating your arthritis. Some people find that heating pads and ice packs can be soothing.
Others use mobility assistance devices, like canes or walkers, to help take pressure off sore joints. The best thing you can do is keep working on improving your joint functions.
In some case’s your doctor may prescribe you medications towards you arthritis. There are a number of different types and down below, we’ve listed some of your options:
- Analgesics – These are effective for pain management but they wouldn’t help decrease inflammation
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – This type of drug can help control pain and inflammation
- Menthol or capsaicin creams – They block the transmission of pain signals from your joints
- Immunosuppressant’s – Help reduce inflammation
You should always talk to your doctor before taking any type of medicine.
In some severe case’s you might find yourself in need of a surgery. If you need surgery you will most likely have your joint replaced with an artificial one. This typically only happens for knees and hips.
If your arthritis is very severe, in your fingers or wrist, your doctor may perform a joint fusion. In this procedure, the ends of your bones are locked together until they heal and become one.
Physical therapy could also be a good option. As opposed to exercising, physical therapy will involve exercises that have the purpose of strengthening the muscles around your affected joints.
This is actually one of the core components of arthritis treatment. Talk to your doctor about your different options.