Senior Health and Wellness: What You Need to Know About Arthritis
If you’re like most people, you think of arthritis as having painful, stiff joints that are swollen and red but the truth is, arthritis shows up in different forms.
The common types for those over 65 to have are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.
Let’s take a closer look at each and the symptoms that accompany them.
This is the most common type of arthritis in seniors.
Cartilage is the tissue that acts as a pad between bones and joints.
When the cartilage starts to deteriorate and wear away, bones rub against each other.
You’re most likely to experience osteoarthritis in your hands, neck, lower back, hips, and knees.
2. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Though it has “arthritis” in the name, RA is an autoimmune disease.
With this disease, your body attacks the lining of a joint as if it was a foreign object.
The same way your finger becomes swollen and red due to a splinter, with RA, your joints become inflamed, swollen and stiff.
It can happen in many joints at the same time and the joints may become immovable.
RA can attack nearly any of the joints in your body, including:
There is often a mirroring effect. For example, if you have RA in your right wrist, you’ll likely have it in your left wrist, as well.
RA doesn’t just affect the joints, though. It can also take a toll on your heart, muscles, blood vessels, nervous system, and your eyes.
This is one of the more painful types of arthritis.
It begins with uric acid crystals forming in connective tissues and joint spaces.
These crystal deposits cause swelling, redness, heat, pain and stiffness.
Gout attacks can occur after you eat foods, such as:
- Dried beans.
Certain conditions make gout more severe, including alcohol use, being overweight and certain medications, especially those for blood pressure.
Gout is most common in the big toe, but it does affect other joints, too.
Swelling can cause the skin to stretch painfully around the joint, making it red or purple and very tender.
Symptoms of arthritis
Any of these may be a sign you’ve developed arthritis:
- Lasting joint pain.
- Swelling in the joints.
- Joint stiffness.
- Tenderness or pain when the joint is touched.
- Difficulty moving a joint normally.
- Redness and/or warmth in a joint.
If you experience any of these issues for longer than two weeks, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor or a rheumatologist.
Treatment for arthritis
The various types of arthritis are each treated differently but they do have some options in common.
Symptoms can be managed with:
- Eating a well-balanced diet.
- Learning the right way to use and protect your joints.
- Acetaminophen, naproxen, ibuprofen.
Best activities for controlling arthritis symptoms
A combination of the right medications, enough rest and appropriate exercise work together to keep you strong, healthy and to keep your symptoms at bay.
Here are the best activities to try:
- Range-of-motion exercises. Dancing and yoga relieve stiffness and encourage your joints to stay flexible.
- Strength training. Weight training will help you build muscle strength which will protect your joints.
- Aerobic exercise. Biking and running are good for your heart, help you to maintain a healthy weight, and improve your overall health and wellness. It could also decrease swelling in your joints.
The right healthcare matters
When you suffer from a chronic condition like any type of arthritis, it’s important that you’re seeing your doctor regularly.
If coverage is an issue, maybe it’s time to talk to an expert.
Are you currently dealing with an arthritis diagnosis? Is your current healthcare meeting your needs?