Arthritis is a common ailment among the elderly. When working with aged patients, our staff at Advantis Home Care, often deal with issues related to arthritis. Many at home elderly care patients need special medications and help with problems related to arthritis. But contrary to popular belief, arthritis isn’t just a disease for the elderly. Although most arthritis sufferers are older patients, the disease could affect almost any age group. Age doesn’t directly cause arthritis. So, what causes arthritis and how can you and your loved ones deal with the condition?
What Causes Arthritis?
As the leading cause of disability in America, arthritis is a very well-known condition. But despite how common the condition is, many people don’t understand what arthritis is.
Arthritis is simply a word that refers to joint inflammation (or swelling). Many people mistakenly believe arthritis to be a disease in itself, but arthritis is more of an umbrella term that can apply to various diseases that cause joint inflammation.
Arthritis can be present in only a few joints or may be found in every joint throughout the body. Even if a patient only has one inflamed joint, they have arthritis in that joint. There’s no limit to how many joints must be affected.
There are almost 200 arthritis-related conditions recognized currently. What causes arthritis can depend on the specific type of arthritis a patient is dealing with. Anything from wear and tear on joints to injuries and genetic factors play a role.
The most common causes of arthritis are:
- Loss of padding tissue in joints due to wear or injury
- Autoimmune diseases that attack healthy joint tissues or alter connective tissues
- Accumulation of crystals in the joints (normally caused by an unhealthy lifestyle)
- Joint infections
Although some types of arthritis are preventable, many are hereditary. Fortunately, healthy lifestyle choices can help in managing broad variety types of arthritis-related conditions.
Types of Arthritis and Causes
Arthritis can affect people of all age groups and is about equally common in both sexes. Some of the most common types of arthritis include the following.
Osteoarthritis is a form of degenerative arthritis. The condition arises when cartilage tissue in joints breaks down, often from wear and tear. Cartilage tissue plays an important role in padding joints to make movement easier. Without it, bone grinds against bone during movement, leading to joint inflammation and discomfort.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis making it the most common type. Elderly persons are more prone to suffer from osteoarthritis, seeing as the padding tissue in joints often degenerates with age.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of inflammatory arthritis that’s caused when the autoimmune disease attacks healthy joint tissues. Problems associated with rheumatoid arthritis aren’t limited to the joints, however. The condition can also cause the immune system to attack and break down tissues in the eyes, skin, blood vessels, heart and lungs.
Women are 3 times more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis, with most sufferers being between the ages of 30 and 60 years old. There are approximately 1.5 million rheumatoid arthritis sufferers in the US.
Unfortunately, rheumatoid arthritis can be a lifelong condition for many, but there are ways to manage it.
Gout and Metabolic Arthritis
Gout is a common form of arthritis caused by tiny crystals present in the joints. High levels of uric acid in the body deposit in joints, causing the formation of crystals.
Unlike most other forms of arthritis, gout can often be prevented. Many lifestyle choices can lead to elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. If uric acid builds up in the body more quickly than the kidneys can remove it, gout will start to develop.
Because of this, gout can often be reversed completely through lifestyle changes alone (although certainly not always). Excessive alcohol intake and over-consumption of red meats and sugar are some of the most common lifestyle factors associated with gout.
While many people can benefit from making good lifestyle choices, not all forms of gout are entirely reversable. For instance, there are certain chronic medications that can increase a patient’s risk of developing gout. Even though these medications can lead to gout, patients aren’t always able to stop taking them.
Additionally, some people naturally seem to produce more uric acid than others, making them prone to developing gout.
When arthritis is caused by a joint infection, it’s referred to as infectious arthritis or septic arthritis. Infectious arthritis can be from a bacterial, viral or fungal infection. The condition is often associated with other signs of infection in the body, such as fever, although this may not always be the case.
The onset of infectious arthritis can lead to permanent joint damage as a result of the infection. Infectious arthritis is usually isolated to a singe joint in the body and can occur in persons of any sex or age group.
Treatment commonly involves the use of antibiotics to clear up infections and potential drainage of fluid on the affected joint.
Juvenile arthritis includes a number of arthritis-related conditions that are commonly present in children. Despite arthritis’ reputation as a disease for the elderly, an estimated 300,000 children in the US also suffer from joint inflammation.
Autoimmune diseases such as juvenile lupus, juvenile myositis and systemic sclerosis are often the cause of juvenile arthritis.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is an umbrella term to refer to forms of arthritis caused by autoimmune and autoinflammatory reactions in children. The majority of children diagnosed with arthritis in the US suffer from juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Living with Arthritis
Seeing as many forms of arthritis are non-reversible, learning to manage the condition is often they key to a better quality of life.
Arthritis can be managed through anti-inflammatory medications prescribed by your doctor. Apart from this, a healthy diet can also reduce inflammation and discomfort associated with arthritis. Be sure to talk to your doctor about what changes you can make to manage your arthritis better through lifestyle changes,
Apart talking to your doctor there are also some therapies and home remedies you can try to manage your discomfort:
- Use hot and cold therapy on sore joints
- Exercise regularly to combat fatigue and improve your health
- Get enough sleep, as lack of sleep can cause arthritis pain to become worse
- Be sure to follow a diet that’s rich in healthy nutrients
- Cut out food types associated with uric acid buildup in the body
- Try physical therapy or occupational therapy
In severe cases, patients can also undergo surgery and joint replacements to alleviate inflammation and discomfort.
Home Care for Arthritis Patients
Many forms of arthritis are severely debilitating. Patients often find themselves unable to move without experiencing discomfort.
Elderly persons with arthritis are especially vulnerable, as their arthritis is often accompanied by other age-related problems. Coping with dementia and arthritis together can be challenging, as patients easily forget to drink their medications.
Home health care can help take away the stress of living with arthritis. If you or a loved one suffer from arthritis and require care, you can opt for receiving all the care you need in the comfort of your own home.
Health aides can accompany arthritis patients daily, helping patients remember to take medications and assisting in daily activities.
Professional nursing services can also be booked via a home health care provider. This is especially useful for patients who have recently undergone surgery, like a joint replacement, as the nurse can provide the post-surgery care necessary for a full recovery.
As an added benefit, arthritis patients can make appointments for physical and occupational therapy sessions at home. Allowing them to receive quality care without ever leaving the house.