Quality of Life with Arthritis
It is difficult to watch the ones you love struggle to perform daily tasks that they used to do with ease. However, while arthritis is not curable, there are many options for improving quality of life.
There are over 100 variants of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, scleroderma, and ankylosing spondylitis. Arthritis is any condition which causes swelling of one or more joints, causing stiffness and pain. Often the conditions worsen with age but are not specifically age-related.
The most common and well-known types of arthritis are osteo and rheumatoid.
Osteoarthritis involves damage to the cartilage on a joint. As the cartilage wears down, the bones end up grinding against one another causing pain and restricted movement.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto-immune condition which is an attack by the body’s immune system on the linings of the joint capsule (a membrane that encloses all the joint parts). It initially causes inflammation but eventually can destroy cartilage and bone within the joints. About 75% of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers are women.
The most common signs of arthritis are:
Pain ~ Stiffness ~ Swelling ~ Redness ~ Decreased range of motion
The challenge can be that, for our older adults, some of these are signs of other conditions as well. Take into consideration whether your loved one also has the following risk factors:
Arthritis has no cure. All treatments are aimed at improving quality of life. Treatments can be pharmaceutical or holistic in nature dependent on the patient’s desires.
Commonly used arthritis medications include:
• NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatories that are Over-The-Counter.
• Counterirritants are creams that contain menthol or capsaicin.
• Steroids like prednisone reduce inflammation and can slow joint damage. They do have side effects from ongoing use and should be closely monitored by your loved one’s medical team.
• DMARDs (Disease-Modifying-Antirheumatic-Drugs) are used with rheumatoid arthritis to slow the progression of the disease. There is an increased risk of infection with these drugs.
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