Arthritis affects nearly half of all seniors, and the numbers are on the rise. But what exactly is arthritis? It’s not a general term for joint pain as many people think. In fact, there are a few different kinds of arthritis, each with its own symptoms and treatments. Here are a few things that all seniors should know about arthritis.
Types of Arthritis:
This arthritis has to do with wear and tear. In our joints, there is cartilage at the end of each bone. The cartilage, which is as smooth as ice, covers the rough ends of the bone. When you move, the bones glide past each other easily because of the cartilage.
However, over time and with the help of factors such as joint position and weight, the cartilage begins to wear away. The once smooth surface is now pockmarked and coarse. This causes pain and friction in the joint with every movement.
This form of arthritis, which is the most common, is usually found in weight bearing joints, such as the hips, knees, and back. Growing older definitely puts someone at risk for osteoarthritis, as the wear continues to degrade the cartilage.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition. This means that the body’s immune system mistakes the cartilage in joints as a pathogen (germ) and attacks it. This leads to red, inflamed, and painful joints.
This condition doesn’t ease up with rest. It will continue attacking the joints until they are completely destroyed, often leaving the sufferer unable to move them. RA can also affect internal organs, such as the heart and nervous system, making it particularly dangerous. It often affects non-weight-bearing joints first, such as the hands and neck first.
Although it is difficult to tell which kind of arthritis you have, if you have it at all, from symptoms, here is a list of signs that indicate that you need to see a doctor about getting checked.
- Joint pain lasting after movement ends
- Tenderness when touching the joint
- Red or warm joint
- Difficulty moving joint freely
Getting a proper diagnosis will get you the best treatment for your condition. So don’t assume anything. If you think you may have arthritis, get the facts and make an appointment with a doctor to get evaluated. With arthritis so common among seniors, there’s every reason to get checked out soon. Freedom Home Care in Highland Park, IL offers specialized in-home care for seniors, including Arthritis Care.