Even though we hear a lot about arthritis and how common it is, unfortunately, it is not well understood. You could not call arthritis a single disease. It is just a way people refer to pain in the joints or joint disease. There are more than 100 different kinds of arthritis and similar conditions. It can happen to males or females, any race, and people of all ages.
Some of the more common symptoms of arthritis include swelling, stiffness, pain and a range of motion that is decreased. The symptoms can come or go. They can range from severe, moderate or just mild. Arthritis may stay much the same for years, but as time goes on it can get worse. If someone has severe arthritis, they can have chronic pain, difficulty walking or climbing stairs, and the inability to do daily activities. There can be changes in the joints that are permanent. It may show up as knobby finger joints, but sometimes the damage can only be seen on an X-ray. There are some types of arthritis that can affect the lungs, heart, eyes, skin, and kidneys, along with the joints.
As a person ages, the symptoms of arthritis typically worsen. The two most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
In rheumatoid arthritis, the lining of the joint capsule becomes inflamed and swollen. Over time, it can destroy cartilage and bone within the joint.
Osteoarthritis, which is the most common type of arthritis, involves some wear and tear to the joint’s cartilage. When someone has enough damage, this can result in one of the bones grinding directly on another bone. This causes pain and movement that is restricted. The wear and tear can happen over a long period of time, or it can be hurried by an infection or a joint injury.
Risk factors include:
- Family History
- Your sex
- Previous joint injury
Someone with severe arthritis can have difficulties with daily tasks. When it happens in the weight-bearing joints, it can make walking very uncomfortable, there could be difficulty sitting up straight. The joints can become twisted and deformed.
There are new drug therapies that are being used to help with the disease. And although there is no cure, you are able to treat the pain. Your doctor can prescribe painkillers such as acetaminophen, narcotics or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. However, long-term use of these drugs can have worrisome side effects in some that suffer from arthritis.
Some people also get steroid injections to ease the pain. Unfortunately, they have side effects when used too long. When physical therapy or medication cannot give you enough relief from the pain, you can have a total replacement of the knee, if that is where your pain is. Of course, this is surgery and that might not be right for everyone because of health conditions or age.
In a treatment called Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections, the doctor takes a sample of your blood. He then spins it in a machine called a centrifuge. This pulls out your blood’s platelets and plasma. The doctor takes this and injects it back in the joint. They say that this mixture contains substances that could promote healing.
What can someone do to help those with arthritis?
- Encourage them to talk and show you are there for them.
- Offer to help them do some type of exercise. It will help them to stay mobile.
- Help them learn to relax and to stay positive through the pain.
- Just help with personal care or everyday activities, rather than wait to be asked.
- Take them to their appointments, or make arrangements for transportation.
- Try to make sure they are eating a healthy diet, with regular meals and portion sizes.
Along with having arthritis when they age, the elderly can also suffer with swallowing issues because of illness, disease or an accident. John Holahan created a product called SimplyThick that thickens liquids so people can drink liquids easier. This product is a great help to those with dysphagia. Helping the elderly with age-related problems like arthritis or other health issues can improve the quality of their lives and make them healthier and happier.