Senior Living Care Blog

What is Arthritis?

Posted by Joe Gilmore on Jan 16, 2019 11:00:00 AM

According to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, arthritis affects 54.5 million American citizens and is a major cause of disability in the United States. It is one of the most common chronic conditions in the nation. The CDC believes that arthritis diagnosis will increase as the population grows and ages. They estimate that there will be 78 million people suffering from arthritis in 2040.


Arthritis is characterized by pain in the joints, about a fourth of everyone who has arthritis suffers from severe joint pain while half report having persistent pain. The condition does not discriminate, it affects people of all ages, sexes, and all races and ethnicities. However, it is highest among older adults.


The condition causes swelling in the joints, where two bones meet such as your elbow or knew. Over time, a swollen joint can become severely damaged. If a condition is serious enough, it can cause problems in the organs, including the eyes and skin.



What is Arthritis?

An individual holding their wrist that is wrapped in a bandage.

Overall, arthritis is a very common disease that causes inflammation of one or more joints. Arthritis is not a single disease, but is a way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States.


There are a number of causes for this disease but the discomfort generally stems from the bones rubbing against each other which can cause pain and swelling.



The main symptoms associated with arthritis is joint pain and stiffness, these problems will generally get worse with age.


Other symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Decreased movement and range of motion



Treatment methods will vary depending on each individual case as there are many types of arthritis, however, the main goals of arthritis treatment is to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. There are many things that can be done to preserve joint function and mobility.


To diagnose the disease, patients will have to go through some tests to detect the problems, such as x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds. Once diagnosed, there are a few medications that are commonly prescribed.


Medication like analgesics can help to reduce pain but have no effect on inflammation. Examples of analgesics include Tylenol, Percocet, Oxycontin, and more. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective in reducing both pain and inflammation. Some common types of NSAIDs are Advil, Motrin, Aleve, and more.


If the problem is severe enough, surgery is an option in order to replace or repair joints.



Types of Arthritis



The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis involves the damage to your joints cartilage. Cartilage is a hard coating on the ends of the bones. If the problem gets serious enough, the result in bone grinding directly on bone which will cause pain and restricted movement. This type of arthritis occurs over many years or it can be quickened by a joint injury or infection.


Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common type of arthritis. It happens when the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, a tough membrane that covers all parts of the joint. The lining of the joint capsule becomes inflamed and swollen and the disease can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joint.


Juvenile Arthritis

As the name suggests, juvenile arthritis is arthritis that occurs in children and adolescents.It causes swelling, pain, stiffness, and eventually loss of motion and most commonly affects the knees, hands, and feet. The cause of juvenile arthritis is still unknown, but one early sign of the disease is limping in the morning. Juvenile arthritis can cause growth problems and eye inflammation in some patients.


Infectious Arthritis

Infectious arthritis is an infection in the joint and it comes from a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection that can spread from other parts of the body. There are many symptoms associated with infectious arthritis, including joint pain, joint redness and swelling, chills and fever, and inability to move the affected area. One common type of infectious arthritis is reactive arthritis which is caused by an infection somewhere else in the body. Sometimes it is caused by an infection in the bladder. It can also be caused by eating good or handling something that has bacteria on it.


Psoriatic Arthritis

This type of arthritis is caused from people who have psoriasis. Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes itchy and sore patches on the skin. The problems on the skin usually occur on the elbows, knees, scalp, face, feet, and more. Psoriatic arthritis causes mild pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints. There is no cure for this, but doctors can prescribe medicines that can help control the inflammation and pain.



In Conclusion

Arthritis is a a group of symptoms that describe many diseases related to joint pain and inflammation. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, caused by damage to the joint cartilage and damage to the lining of the joints, respectively. There are a number of treatment routes that you could implement, medication is one option to improve quality of life. However, if the problem gets severe, surgery to replace or repair joints is an options as well. Arthritis can make daily tasks difficult as the pain in the hands can make things like picking something up or carrying something painful. If someone suffering from some type of arthritis is living alone, it may make their daily lives harder.


If you or a loved one is dealing with painful arthritis, it may be a good time to look into assisted living facilities that can provide the kind of care that they deserve. At Landmark Senior Living, we can offer our residents access to a care staff if they need it and the ability to participate in many social activities. If you want to learn more and are interested in a complimentary walk through of our assisted living facilities, please reach out to our admissions staff.



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Topics: Senior Health

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