Arthritis is more than the common aches and pains of getting older. For the 175 million children and adults diagnosed with arthritis around the world, the musculoskeletal disease painfully affects the joints of the body. Instead of being one universal joint pain and stiffness condition, there are more than 100 types of arthritis, including gout, lupus and psoriatic arthritis.
The two major types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, and the inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a progressive condition that breaks down joint cartilage and is the most common type of arthritis. The World Health Organisation estimates that almost 10 percent of men and 18 percent of women worldwide over the age of 60 face osteoarthritis symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that inflames joints, symptoms include: joint pain, swelling, warmth, redness and stiffness.
A leading cause of disability, arthritis stems from a number of risk factors, including a family history of arthritis, increased age, joint injury or overuse, and excess weight. Because of the varying types of arthritis, it is important to get a proper medical diagnosis for specific treatment options. Right at Home caregivers can provide assistance with a light exercise program and nutritious meals, which are essential in managing arthritis, especially for seniors. The following lifestyle remedies also can help:
- Keep a healthy body weight. Every 0.5 kilos of weight results in approximately 1.8 kilos of pressure on the knees. Taking extra weight off relieves joint pain and can limit future joint injury. Some seniors may need help with healthy meal planning and preparation.
- Develop a regular exercise routine. Swimming and water aerobics are two of the safest exercises for weight-bearing joints.
- Consult with a rheumatologist for an individualised treatment plan. Dozens of medications are now available to treat all forms of arthritis.
- Explore non-medicinal pain remedies. Consider pain-relief therapies such as herbal supplements, massage, acupuncture and relaxation techniques.
If you or your ageing loved one has arthritis, what have you found most helpful to manage it?