Arthritis - what is it and how to manage it

Arthritis can be life changing. It can be painful and debilitating. However, there are things you can do to help living with arthritis far more comfortable and manageable. In this blog we discuss what arthritis is and how to manage it if you are living with it. Don’t let it take over your life, instead, take control of it.
Arthritis is a challenging and often uncomfortable disease. It occurs in older people more so but some younger people also suffer with arthritis.

So what is arthritis

The Arthritis Foundation defines arthritis as: “Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate, or severe. They may stay about the same for years but can progress or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities, and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs.”

Arthritis in Older Adults

Arthritis is a condition that really shouldn’t be underestimated. In older adults, it can affect their mobility as well as cause a lot of discomfort and pain.

A person suffering from arthritis may be extremely stiff in the morning and moving can cause a lot of pain. If they have been sat for periods of time, they may experience pain and difficultly moving.

These symptoms can have a huge impact on a person’s life. It can stop them doing activities and things they would normally enjoy doing. Simple things like going to the shop, walking the dog or tending to the garden can no longer be possible. This can then also have an effect on the person’s mental health as well as their physical health.

Is there a particularly common type of arthritis in older people?

Osteoarthritis is the most common arthritis in the elderly. This type of arthritis results in the cartilage being worn away that would normally protect the bones from rubbing against each other. This will cause pain, swelling and stiffness.

Arthritis can occur just from the ageing process and general wear and tear on the joints. However, there are some contributing factors that can increase the risk of getting it. Excessive weight gain, family history and also previous joint injuries can cause arthritis.

Are there other types of arthritis?

Yes. Rheumatoid arthritis is less common. However, this type can be even more painful. The immune system is also effected with this type and it doesn’t work properly. Someone with a normal healthy immune system will use inflammation to fight infection and prevent disease. However, someone with Rheumatoid arthritis, their immune system will attack and inflame joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis can be treated so please visit a doctor if you are concerned that you or a family member may be suffering.

Tips to help manage and live with arthritis

  • Make sure you (or your loved one) stays on top of taking your medication. This is so important to help to manage the pain to make you lead a more comfortable life day to day.
  • Try to stick to a healthy diet. There are a couple of reasons this is important. As mentioned earlier, excessive weight can put added strain on joints and worsen your pain. There are also many healthy foods that can help fight inflammation. Things like tomatoes, leafy greens such as spinach and things like almonds. There are many more so take a look at some here.
  • Try some exercise. Things like gentle yoga, swimming and even thai chi can help with movement and reducing pain. If you can’t get out, there are so many free yoga classes for example that you can access online.
  • Consider equipment that could help with simple jobs around the house such as opening jars or lifting the kettle. There are lots of devices that can help with these activities.

Managing arthritis pain

  • To deal with pain in joints, hot and sometimes cold compresses can help with painful joints. If you have a bath, a hot bath could really help or a hot compress could ease pain.
  • Some people find that things like massage and acupuncture can really help to ease joint pain temporarily.
  • As mentioned earlier, yoga can help but also meditation can be a great way to help deal with pain in the body and help you to relax.
  • If you are able to do any lightweight training exercises or range of motion exercises, these can really help build strength around the joints. However, do this with caution and listen to your body, don’t over do it!
  • A really important point it to keep moving! Our bodies don’t like to be still for too long and you will experience pain and stiffness from sitting for too long. If you are watching to TV, maybe take a walk to make a drink in the commercial break or just simply take a stroll around the living room!

Do what you can to help

We may not have a cure for arthritis but there are many things that you can do to help improve symptoms and ease pain related to it. Give some of these tips a go.

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