Arthritis is a disease that causes joint inflammation. There are more than 100 types of arthritis that can affect people of all ages, particularly the elderly. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and juvenile arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease where cartilage breaks down causing stiffness, pain, and loss of movement.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes joints to become inflamed, leaving the patient with loss of function, constant discomfort 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 of juvenile arthritis is idiopathic arthritis where the joints swell for six weeks or longer.
Arthritis causes cartilage to deteriorate. Cartilage protects and absorbs the pressure of movement, so as it deteriorates joints become painful and inflamed.
Arthritis can also be caused by broken bones, autoimmune diseases, and bacterial and viral infections. Healthcare professionals diagnose arthritis by looking for a limited range of motion, fluid in the joints, and inflammation.
The damage caused by arthritis 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 arthritis pain and reduce inflammation. Surgery, such as hip or knee replacements is another treatment.
Exercise can reduce 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 the activities of daily living more difficult. A homecare professional can assist patients with tasks including bathing, dressing or homemaking.
If the patient has surgery, HealthNow Home Healthcare professionals can provide physical or occupational therapy in the home.