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How Can I Help An Elderly Person With Arthritis

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  • 03-12-2021
How Can I Help An Elderly Person With Arthritis

Are you caring for someone with arthritis? If so, you may be asking: how can I help an elderly person with arthritis? We look at the types of arthritis, symptoms of arthritis and how they are treated.

Types Of Arthritis In Older People

The two most common forms of arthritis in older people are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is by far the most common type of arthritis present in the UK. It is currently affecting around nine million of the UK's citizens. Usually, the condition develops in people around their mid to late forties and older. 

The condition is also more common in women than it is with men. Osteoarthritis is thought to be hereditary, too, being more common with people who have a family history of the condition. 

Keep in mind that osteoarthritis can strike at any age after a serious injury or in association with other joint affecting conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

Osteoarthritis starts by affecting the smooth cartilage lining of joints. This leads to movement of the joint being more difficult than it should be and later leads to an overall stiffness of the joint, as well as severe pain.

Eventually, the cartilage lining will begin to thin and roughen out; at this point, the ligaments and tendons will have to work together. Unfortunately, this causes painful swelling and the formation of bony projections along the bone's edge named osteophytes.

Once there has been a significant loss of cartilage, the bones will begin to rub together. This will then lead to the joint shape being altered and force bones out of their regular position.

The most common joints in the body affected by osteoarthritis are those found in the following:

Hands

Spine

Hips

Knees

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common form of arthritis in the UK. Currently, the affliction is affecting over 400,000 people.

Rheumatoid arthritis usually takes hold when a person is around the age of between 40 and 50 years old. Similarly to osteoarthritis, women are around three times more likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis than men.

With rheumatoid arthritis, the snuffer's body's immune system will attack affected joints within the body. This will then lead to painful swelling and general discomfort.

This attack will then spread across the entirety of the joint. Swelling will become worse, and the joint may begin to change in shape. This alteration in shape can then cause the cartilage and bone within the joint to break down.

Commonly, people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis can also develop issues with their organs and other bodily tissue.

What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis

The common symptoms of arthritis include:

Long-term pain in joint

Issues when attempting to use or move a joint

Swelling of a joint

Pain or tenderness when a joint is touched

Stiffness of a joint

A constant warmth and redness in a joint

If you have experienced any of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, then you should give your regular doctor a visit or perhaps visit a rheumatologist. 


If your condition is severe and you are experiencing a fever, physical illness, sudden swelling of a joint,  or are having extreme issues using a joint, then you should visit a doctor immediately. 


Any health care provider that you visit will perform a physical exam on your joint and ask questions about your condition. They may also recommend having an x-ray exam done before a treatment plan is suggested.


Tips To Reduce Arthritis Pain

How Is Arthritis Treated

All the different varieties of arthritis are handled differently, but there are some common treatments that are carried out across the board, no matter what form of arthritis is present. 

They may seem like simple remedies, but they are proven to help with sufferers of arthritis. These techniques include eating a healthy diet, regular rest and exercise, a well-balanced diet, and learning the appropriate ways to operate your body's joints to protect them from further harm. 

The use of specialist shoes and a cane can greatly improve the pain experienced in knees, feet and hips while walking. Specially made devices and gadgets can also be helpful, they can assist in simple tasks that become hard when suffering from arthritis, such as opening jars or turning doorknobs.

There are also medicines that help the pain and swelling that come with arthritis. Acetaminophen is a common drug offered to sufferers of arthritis, as it can ease arthritis pain with no severe side effects. 

Even NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as naproxen and ibuprofen can greatly improve the pain experienced from arthritis. Other NSAIDs are available, but they must be prescribed. 

Be careful, though, as other NSAIDs can come with nasty side effects which might actually make arthritis conditions worse. Always read the warnings found on drug packaging or on the insert found within the box. If worried about drug usage, speak to your doctor about whether you should use acetaminophen or NSAIDs for arthritis symptoms.

Osteoarthritis

There are medicines available to help control osteoarthritis pain. Regular exercise and rest will make joints easier to move. 

It also helps to keep bodyweight down, as this can put unnecessary stress on joints. If pain from osteoarthritis becomes intolerable, then a doctor may give shots into the joint to try and alleviate the pain. 

These shots can also make the movement of the joint easier. In some cases, surgery is the best option. Damaged joints can be repaired or replaced through surgery.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Through treatment, the swelling and pain symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can greatly improve. Joint damage can also be slowed down or stopped. Treatment can also make it much easier to move around while suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. 

Pain and anti-inflammatory medicines will absolutely be prescribed, but in addition to those, a doctor may recommend anti-rheumatic drugs. These are called DMARDs, also known as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. 

These drugs can slow down the damage caused by the disease. Other medications, such as prednisone, also known as corticosteroids, will reduce swelling while the sufferer waits for DMARD drugs to begin working. 

The other type of drug often given to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers is biologic response modifiers. These drugs block the damage which is done to joints by the immune system. Biologic response modifiers can help rheumatoid arthritis sufferers when other treatments have not proved effective.

Gout

Anyone who has suffered from an attack of gout should speak to their doctor and learn why the attack happened. The doctor can also supply information on how to stop future attacks from taking place. For mild cases of gout, the most common treatment is the use of corticosteroids and NSAIDs. 

This will reduce the gout's swelling, which can help the sufferer's overall condition within a few hours. Gout usually fades two or three days after the initial attack. If a sufferer has experienced several attacks, then a doctor will be able to prescribe medicines in order to prevent future attacks from taking place.

How Arthritis Pain Can Be Managed

01

Discuss Pains With Doctor

Before a discussion with a doctor takes place, observe where the pains are taking place. 

When is the pain at its worst? Which activities are the most difficult? 

Make a note of these observations so they can be discussed with the doctor. Specific details can help the doctor understand symptoms and recommend treatments.

02

Massage

Massaging painful joints gently to warm them up can massively help with relaxing the area. 

The activity is great for winding down at the end of the day and is also fantastic for helping sufferers sleep. 

If the massage feels painful at first, try heating the painful area first. Lotions and oils can also be very helpful.

03

Exercise Regularly

People who suffer from arthritis will often not want to move around because it hurts too much. 

But in actuality, staying still and not moving will actually make arthritis pain worse over time. 

At first, the process may be painful, but regular exercise or activity will reduce the pain of arthritis. 

Short bursts of moving and flexing joints that hurt can be incredibly helpful. Standing up and moving at least once an hour is a big help.

04

Healthy Weight

Losing just one pound can take four pounds of pressure off each knee. A healthy weight is vital for joints as the higher the body weight, the more pressure is being put on joints. 

If an arthritis sufferer is overweight, it is recommended that they take up a healthier diet and increase the amount of regular exercise they are taking part in. 

This can really help the person suffering lose some weight, which will then take huge amounts of pressure off joints.

05

Omega-3

Omega-3 is proven to reduce inflammation levels within the body, which will help to decrease the pain experienced by arthritis. Omega-3 can be taken from fish such as sardines, herring, salmon and tuna. 

Before taking Omega-3 supplements, talk to a doctor, this is to make sure that there are no negative interactions between prescriptions already in place and the Omega-3.

06

Heat And Cold Therapy

Arthritis pain can be relieved through the use of both cold and heat. Heat therapy should be done earlier in the day, as it helps to relax the muscles ready for the day ahead. 

Cold therapy is often done at the end of the day in order to reduce the inflammation caused by the day's activities. Cold packs can sometimes be uncomfortable at first, but they are fantastic for deeply numbing the pain caused by arthritis. 

If cold packs are not available, then simply rubbing a small bag of ice or even just ice cubes can greatly reduce inflammation and swelling.


If you have questions about how to live better with Arthritis, we hope this information has been useful to you.

We offer specialist home care services and live-in care for vulnerable adults throughout London. Get in contact today if you have a loved one that would benefit from professional arthritis care at home.