May brings us National Arthritis Awareness Month. This prevalent disease affects more than 50 million Americans, and it is the number one cause of disability. 57 percent of adults with heart disease and 52 percent of adults with diabetes also have arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis among the elderly. It causes degeneration of the cartilage that lines the joints and can eventually result in bone rubbing against bone. Signs that it may be developing include early morning stiffness, joint swelling and pain, loss of flexibility, redness or tenderness at joints, fever and weakness, and nodules forming in the joints. The joints that are usually affected include the hands, knees, hips and spine.
Many people do not obtain an early diagnosis because they believe there is nothing they can do to ease the symptoms or limit the progression of this disease. The truth is that the earlier you know, the better. A physical therapist can offer suggestions and treatment. Exercise is vital to limiting joint damage. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables and limited in packaged or prepared foods can help support healthy joints. Medication may be prescribed for pain control although it is often a last resort for seniors.
A study published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy found that after six weeks of participating in a yoga program, seniors reported significant improvements in pain and stiffness.
It’s important to make the necessary lifestyle changes in order to minimize joint damage and deterioration. Maintaining the proper body weight is essential. For every extra pound of weight, four extra pounds of pressure are placed on the weight bearing joints such as the knees. Proper diet and exercise can help take the extra weight off. Remember that slow and steady is the recommended approach as losing too much weight in a short time can produce extra stress on the body and can result in lost muscle tissue, vital for strength and balance.
In addition to possible medication, intermittent hot and cold packs have proved useful for controlling pain. The cold reduces inflammation while the heat provides relaxation. Topical ointments that contain menthol or capsaicin can help relieve arthritic pain. Voltaren gel has recently been approved by the FDA and is the first prescription topical skin gel for osteoarthritis. It contains diclofenac sodium, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. According to the Arthritis Foundation, participants in a study who used this gel reported 46 to 51 percent pain reduction in specific joints.
Senior Care Provider
If your loved one has been diagnosed with a form or arthritis and is having difficulty performing the everyday activities of living, consider obtaining the assistance of a senior care provider. These professionals have cared for countless seniors with this diagnosis. In addition to assisting them with everyday tasks, they can prepare joint-healthy meals, run errands, accompany them on walks and provide that all-important aspect of a well-rounded and healthy life—companionship.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring senior care in Munhall, PA, contact the caring staff at Extended Family Care of Lancaster. Call today at (717) 205-2174.
A long-time resident of Lancaster County, Mary Lynne enjoys spending time with her husband Terry, and their 3 horses and collies. The countless hours of caring for her client and employee-based “family” at work and at home can truly depict the selfless character of Mary Lynne Heller. Mary Lynne is a Google Verified Author