Understanding Arthritis and How to Treat It

Arthritis is more than the common aches and pains of getting older.  For the roughly 50 million Americans diagnosed with arthritis—two-thirds of them are under age 65—the musculoskeletal disease painfully affects the body’s joints.  Instead of being one catchall joint pain and stiffness condition, there are more than 100 types of arthritis, including gout, lupus, and psoriatic arthritis.

The two major types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, and the inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis.  Osteoarthritis is a progressive wear-and-tear condition that breaks down joint cartilage and is the most common type of arthritis, affecting about 33 million Americans.  Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that inflames joints on both sides of the body, such as both hands, both wrists, or both knees.  The joint’s cartilage can potentially deteriorate as a result, leading to joint disfigurement and disability.  Symptoms include joint pain, swelling, warmth, redness, and stiffness.

The leading cause of disability in the United States, arthritis stems from a number of risk factors, including a family history of arthritis, increased age, joint injury or overuse, and excess weight.  Because of the varying types of arthritis, it is important to get a proper medical diagnosis for specific treatment options.  An at-home caregiver from Right at Home can provide assistance with a light exercise program and nutritious meals, which are essential in managing arthritis, especially for seniors.  The following lifestyle remedies also can help:

  • Keep a healthy body weight. Every pound of weight results in four pounds of pressure on the knees.  Taking extra weight off relieves joint pain and can limit future joint injury.  Some seniors may need help with healthy meal planning and preparation.
  • Develop a regular exercise routine. Swimming and water aerobics are two of the safest exercises for weight-bearing joints.
  • Consult with a rheumatologist for an individualized treatment plan.  More than 100 medications are now available to treat all forms of arthritis.  Educate yourself on potential side effects.
  • Explore non-medicinal pain remedies. Consider pain-relief therapies, such as herbal supplements, massage, acupuncture, and relaxation techniques.

 

Paul Blom, Owner

 

 

January 16, 2014

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