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What is Arthritis? How Does it Impact Seniors?

Arthritis is an umbrella term that referred to over 100 different types of joint pain and diseases that affect over 50 million American adults each year.  Surprisingly, arthritis also impacts roughly 300,000 children in the United States each year, despite being commonly found in elderly adults. It is believed that women develop arthritis more so than men, leaving them susceptible to experiencing the complications and pain that come with their diagnosis. There are several different types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia.

What is Arthritis and Who Does it Impact?

There are two categories of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, which have different causes. Osteoarthritis is caused by wear-and-tear to joints and the damage that the joint cartilage experiences over time or as a result of an injury. Rheumatoid arthritis on the other hand is when the immune system breaks down the lining of joints, which leaves the cartilage and bone itself vulnerable.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis?

As previously stated, there are several different types of arthritis. With that being said, individuals may experience different signs and symptoms depending on their particular diagnosis. Symptoms may also vary in severity based on the individuals age and his or her health and general well-being. However, there are general symptoms and signs of arthritis that present themselves in most, if not all, cases of arthritis including:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • General Pain and Aching
  • Decreased Range of Motion

If an individual experiences these symptoms, whether they are severe or not, he or she should contact their medical professional immediately. Arthritis can only be formally diagnosed by a medical professional and can be treated upon diagnosis.

Arthritis Treatments

It is important to note that just as the signs and symptoms of each type of arthritis varies, the treatment options will vary as well. However, there are general options that are available to arthritis patients, including:

  • Prescription drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. Prescriptions will be given via a medical professional and will range in dosage and frequency depending on the diagnosis of the patient.
  • Natural treatments such as herbs and supplements may be beneficial for some individuals that are suffering from symptoms of the disease. These should be okayed by a medical professional before incorporating them into an individual’s daily routine.
  • Physical therapy is a possible option for individuals who may be strong enough to build their joints and bones back up, rather than allowing deterioration to take place. Physical therapies are not advised for elderly individuals or people who feel a strain due to arthritis symptoms.
  • Perhaps one of the more invasive and aggressive treatments for arthritis is joint surgery, where an individual undergoes a procedure to help them with the pain that they may be feeling, as well as to help fix the joint damage that has been done. These can range from simple surgeries to complete joint replacement surgeries.

It is very important to understand that treatments should only be administered by medical professionals and even natural supplements should be cleared by a doctor. Arthritis treatment can be very successful when administered and monitored properly but can cause more danger than good if they are not managed by professionals that specialize in arthritis.

Living with arthritis can be challenging for some people, especially as they age and start to feel the effects of growing older. It is important to know that living a happy life with an arthritis diagnosis is possible, with the proper treatment and management. If an individual is feeling overwhelmed or needs assistance, an in-home caregiver may be able to help them. In-home caregivers for can assist arthritis patients with their daily tasks that may not be feasible for them since their diagnosis. It is important to remember that there are options for those who live with arthritis and an arthritis diagnosis does not have to define an individual and their quality of life does not have to suffer at the hands of this disease.

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