Impacting 30 million individuals in the United States alone, osteoarthritis is a debilitating and painful condition that results due to the wearing away of cartilage, creating friction in the joints as unprotected bones rub against one another. Although it can happen in any joint, it’s most prevalent in the hands, hips, knees, lower back, and neck.
Given that it’s so prevalent, it is very important for everyone to be familiar with the basics of osteoarthritis and what to do if you or someone you love is diagnosed. The following tips for living with arthritis can help.
- What is causing osteoarthritis? Although an exact cause has not yet been identified, it typically impacts seniors and those whose bodies are unable to fix joint tissue.
- Am I at risk? There are particular risk factors:
- Age (most typical in those over age 40)
- Trauma or overuse of a joint
- Gender (more common in females than males)
- Profession (people carrying out repetitive tasks)
- Specific health conditions (such as other types of arthritis, joint or cartilage abnormalities, misalignment of the ankle, knee, or hip, bone diseases)
- What are the symptoms? At first, there may be no significant symptoms, but as osteoarthritis becomes more advanced, signs may include stiffness, swelling, and pain that is severe when the joint has been at rest for a period of time, as well as soreness, warmth, and difficulty moving the joint, and/or a cracking sound when the joint is moved.
- How will the physician diagnose osteoarthritis? The doctor’s examination includes tests to rule out other possible causes for the pain and swelling inherent in osteoarthritis, including x-rays, MRIs, blood and joint fluid tests.
- What treatment plans are available? Even though there’s no cure or treatment to undo the damage attributable to osteoarthritis, symptoms are often relieved through pain medicines, physical therapy and exercise, lifestyle changes, assistive devices, and/or surgery.
- Can supplements help? Although some research reports have suggested that those with insufficient intake of vitamins C, D and K can have an increased chance of developing osteoarthritis, the American College of Rheumatology has discovered that using supplements of these vitamins, together with calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, has not been confirmed to be safe or effective. It’s vitally important to always check with your medical professional before you take any supplements.
- Help with light housework, laundry, and other responsibilities that are challenging or cause pain
- Planning and preparing healthy, nutritious meals
- Providing motivation and encouragement to participate in doctor-advised exercises
- Supplying transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and procedures
- Picking up prescriptions, grocery shopping, and running other errands
- And many more
Contact us at 618-667-8400 for additional helpful resources pertaining to osteoarthritis or other conditions typical to aging, and to request a free in-home consultation for more information on how our professional, fully trained and experienced care staff can improve quality of life for an older adult you love.