Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation of the joints and can cause intense pain for many. In general, arthritis causes joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. There may be tenderness or pain when touching a joint, moving a joint, and warmth or redness in the joint. Over 50 million adults have been diagnosed with a type of arthritis, which may include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, fibromyalgia and more. Arthritis can attack nearly any joint in the body.

This is one of the most common diseases in the United States, especially for older adults. Approximately half of the adults over 65 years or older have reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis. The most common types of arthritis in older adults are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.

Arthritis Symptoms

Arthritis affects millions of seniors every year, so it’s important to be able to identify the many symptoms that can present themselves. Make sure to be aware of pain and stiffness that becomes prevalent as you or your loved one gets older.

  • Fatigue
  • Stiffness In the Morning or When Sitting Too Long
  • Joint Stiffness
  • Joint Pain
  • Minor Joint Swelling
  • Fever
  • Numbness and Tingling
  • Decrease In Range of Motion

Causes of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis among adults and is characterized by the cartilage, or tissue padding the bone in a joint, wearing away. After the cartilage wears away, the bones rub against each other. On the other hand, Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that your body attacks itself. With rheumatoid arthritis, your body attacks the lining of a joint as if it were protecting you from injury or disease. It can also attack organs such as heart, muscles, blood vessels, nervous system or eyes.

Many cases of arthritis occur when the cartilage is worn down so much that there is essentially no padding between joints. This can be caused by frequent physical activity or simple wear and tear over the years. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the synovium, a soft tissue in your joints that produces a fluid that nourishes the cartilage and lubricates the joints. If your joints are not well lubricated, they can break down and become inflamed.

Diagnoses of Arthritis

Most diagnoses will begin with your physician performing a simple physical. Here they will address your range of motion and feel for any swelling or warm joints. This could be a sign that blood is rushing to the specific joint to alleviate pressure.

If the doctor suspects an issue, it’s possible they will use imaging scans like an MRI or an X-ray to see if they can identify the problem. It’s possible they could also remove a blood sample to study the inflammation.

Treatments of Arthritis

Each type of arthritis is cared for a bit differently, but if you or your loved one is suffering from arthritis, there are a few treatment choices that can help manage your pain and symptoms, regardless of the arthritis type.

Getting rest, exercise, and eating a well-balanced diet will help keep you feeling well. Medications will help manage the pain and other symptoms so that you can continue your activities of daily living. Wearing the right type of footwear and using aids, such as a cane, can also help to alleviate pain, and there are various devices that can help ease opening jars, bottles, and doorknobs.

Three types of exercises that can help relieve symptoms of arthritis:

  • Range-of-motion exercises such as yoga or dancing may help relieve the stiffness of joints, increase flexibility, and help keep your joints moving.
  • Strengthening exercises such as weight training will help to build muscle strength. Strong muscles are necessary to support and protect your joints.
  • Aerobic or endurance exercises such as swimming or bicycle riding help keep your heart and arteries healthy, prevent weight gain, and can help lessen swelling in joints.

If you or your loved one is suffering from arthritis, work with your physician to find a plan to help lessen your arthritis pain.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible for physical activity to help arthritis?

Absolutely! Exercise is one of the most effective non-drug treatments for arthritis. It can help to prevent or delay hip surgery and can help keep joints healthy. There are a number of arthritis-friendly exercises like walking, dancing, biking and more.

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What are the symptoms of arthritis?

Symptoms vary with the type of arthritis, but in general, arthritis is characterized by:

  • Lasting joint pain
  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Tenderness or pain when touching a joint
  • Problems using or moving a joint
  • Warmth and redness in a joint

Here is more information on the causes and symptoms of arthritis

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