With age comes the unfortunate increased risk of growing medical needs and debilitating physical conditions. Perhaps the most common of these conditions is arthritis, a condition characterized by joint inflammation that causes both stiffness and pain. On this page, our experts here at St. Paul’s Senior Services discuss arthritis by providing arthritis facts, as well as care and treatment recommendations.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is not a single disease but rather a term that refers to all conditions characterized by chronic joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 distinct types of arthritis documented by the medical community. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in America and afflicts more than 50 million people worldwide. People of all ages, sexes, and races can and do have arthritis, though it is most commonly found in seniors. Symptoms of arthritis can range from mild to severe, and while there are several promising treatment options, there is no cure for arthritis to date.
Arthritis Symptoms and Treatments
Arthritis symptoms include swelling, stiffness, and pain in the joints, as well as decreased range of motion overall. Depending on the severity of each individual case, arthritis symptoms may progress quickly, slowly, or not at all. The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis, occurs when cartilage on the ends of bones wears away, thus causing bone to rub against bone, leading to, swelling, stiffness, and pain. Osteoarthritis can be diagnosed through x-rays, MRIs, and other medical imaging. Often, a simple checkup with a doctor can result in a diagnosis without imaging. This allows patients to explore treatment options as expediently as possible.
When treating arthritis, nearly all doctors agree that early intervention is best. Recent researchsuggests that catching joint disease early increases the effectiveness of administered arthritis drugs such as adalimumab (Humira) and infliximab (Remicade). However, these medications, when administered in conjunction with physical therapy and rehabilitative exercise, can help mitigate arthritis symptoms at any stage.
Though there are several promising treatment options that can mitigate arthritis symptoms, a cure for arthritis has yet to be developed. Thus, prevention is key for seniors and others looking to maintain healthy joints. Unfortunately, there is no sure way to prevent arthritis. However, there are several steps anyone can take to reduce their arthritis risk. Frequent and proper exercise in conjunction with a balanced diet can reduce risk of arthritis in individuals of any age. Below are three of the most common types of arthritis and the respective prevention recommendations.
- Osteoarthritis– Maintain a healthy weight.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis– Do not smoke.
- Gout– Eat a healthy diet, low in sugar, alcohol, and purines.
The Benefits of Senior Care
For many seniors struggling with arthritis, the assistance of trained medical professionals can go a long way in mitigating symptoms and increasing quality of life overall. Depending on the severity of the condition, routine physical therapy and medication may be all that is needed, or, in more demanding cases, assisted living may be the right route to take. Either way, if you or a loved is dealing with debilitating arthritis, it is a good idea to explore treatment options as well as senior care communities near you. Senior living communities like ours here at St. Paul’s Senior Services offer a wide range of resources and care options to help seniors address their arthritis and live happy, healthy lives. Reach out to our San Diego, CA senior living communities, St. Paul’s Villa in Bankers Hill and St. Paul’s Plaza in Chula Vista to learn more.