The Truth About Arthritis: What You Need to Know

June 27, 2017

Summer is officially in full swing, and millions of seniors are joining in on the fun, getting active and enjoying themselves in a myriad of outdoor activities. But with all of that physical activity, millions of seniors will also face the challenge of dealing with arthritis. Contrary to common misconceptions, arthritis is not any singular ailment. Arthritis actually consists of a category of conditions that includes any disorder which affects joints. While there are over 100 different types of arthritis, each condition is normally characterized by inflammation, pain, and swelling in the joints.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is a degenerative condition that most commonly affects highly-stressed joints such as those at the knees and hips. Osteoarthritis is so common because it is usually caused by the general wear-and-tear that accumulates in joints as one ages. In fact, more than 10% of adults over the age of 60 have osteoarthritis affecting their knees! While symptoms may initially be mild and manageable, over time the condition can become debilitating and make even simple, daily tasks a struggle. Arthritis is actually the leading cause of disability in the United States with 54 million Americans being affected and more than 20 million Americans being severely limited by the condition.

As we age, wear-and-tear on our joints is inevitable, which is why it is so crucial for seniors should still be educated about the symptoms and risk factors associated with arthritis. The most common symptom is pain and stiffness in the joints. Arthritis-related discomfort will most often be experienced early in the morning and after use of joints. Other notable symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, and restless sleep. Obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and past traumatic injury are all factors that greatly increase the likelihood of experiencing arthritis.

Unfortunately there is no simple cure for arthritis, but there are many ways to combat its symptoms. From a medicinal perspective, common anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and aspirin are the first line of defense. In cases which cause severe pain, joint replacement surgery can be the best option. However, physical and occupational therapy are the most effective treatment options for arthritis. PT and OT have been showed to most greatly improve function and reduce long term pain. They can also help a patient significantly extend the life of joints and delay the need for taxing surgeries.

For seniors, recognition of arthritis symptoms and subsequent physical therapy are the keys to maintaining joint health. Centers Health Care looks to assist those affected by arthritis by being a leader in physical and occupational therapy. Learn more about Center’s PT and OT programs here.

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