Arthritis is a common disease that involves inflation of the joints. There are more than 100 types of arthritis that can affect people of all ages, particularly older people, but the most common are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that involves the breakdown of cartilage, causing stiffness, pain and loss of movement in the joint from bones rubbing together.
With rheumatoid arthritis, the lining of the joints become inflamed, leaving the patient with loss of function, constant pain and long term joint damage.
Juvenile arthritis is any form of the disease that affects people under the age of 18. The most common type is juvenile idiopathic arthritis which involves the swelling of joints for six weeks or more.
It’s caused by the wearing of cartilage, which normally protects and absorbs the pressure of movement. This is why it typically affects older individuals, because they have had more time to wear away their cartilage. Arthritis can also be caused by broken bones, autoimmune diseases, and bacterial or viral infections.
Healthcare professionals normally diagnose arthritis by looking for limited range of motion, fluid in the joints, and also warm, red and tender joints. They do several tests and take your symptoms into account to diagnose arthritis.
The damage cannot be reversed, but there are treatment options to reduce pain, improve function and prevent further damage. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin and corticosteroids can be prescribed to treat pain and reduce inflammation. Surgery, such as hip or knee replacements can be another treatment, but they require physical therapy in the recovery period.
Lifestyle changes are the best treatment for arthritis. Exercise reduces stiffness, pain and fatigue, while improving bone and muscle strength. Low-impact aerobic activities, strength training and range of motion exercises are often suggested, while water, heat, ice and massage therapies can also help.
Even with medical treatment, arthritis can progress to the point where it makes activities of daily living more difficult. A homecare professional can assist with tasks such as bathing, dressing or homemaking, if they become too difficult for the patient.
If the patient has surgery, HealthNow Healthcare professionals can provide physical or occupational therapy in the home.