Affecting 30 million individuals within the United States alone, osteoarthritis is a debilitating and painful condition that results due to the wearing away of cartilage, generating friction in the joints as unprotected bones rub against each other. While it may appear in virtually any joint, it is most prevalent in the hands, hips, knees, lower back, and neck.
Given that it’s so common, it is important for everyone to know the basics of osteoarthritis and what you should do if you or a senior you love is diagnosed. The following important information can help.
- What causes osteoarthritis? While a precise cause is not known, it typically strikes senior loved ones and those whose bodies are not able to repair joint tissue.
- Am I at an increased risk? There are specific risk factors:
- Age (most typical in those over age 40)
- Trauma or overuse of a joint
- Gender (more widespread in females than males)
- Career (people performing repetitive tasks)
- Certain medical conditions (such as other types of arthritis, joint or cartilage abnormalities, misalignment associated with ankle, knee, or hip, bone diseases)
- What are the symptoms? Initially, there may be no significant symptoms, but as osteoarthritis advances, signs range from stiffness, swelling, and pain that is more severe after the joint has been at rest for some time, along with warmth, and trouble moving the joint, and/or a cracking sound when the joint is moved.
- How will the doctor diagnose osteoarthritis? The doctor’s examination should include tests to exclude other possible causes for the pain and swelling inherent in osteoarthritis, including x-rays, MRIs, blood and joint fluid tests.
- What osteoarthritis treatments are available? Although there is no cure or treatment to reverse the damage as a consequence of osteoarthritis, symptoms are generally alleviated through pain medicines, physical therapy and exercise, lifestyle adjustments, assistive devices, and/or surgery.
- Can vitamin supplements help? While a few research reports have indicated that individuals with an insufficient intake of vitamins C, D and K can be at an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis, the American College of Rheumatology has discovered that using supplements of these vitamins, coupled with calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, has not been demonstrated to be safe or effective. It is very important to always remember to check with a medical practitioner prior to taking any supplements.
Home With You Senior Care can assist those with osteoarthritis in a variety of ways, including:
- Help with light housework, laundry, and other activities which can be challenging or cause pain
- Planning and preparing healthy, nutritious meals
- Providing motivation to participate in doctor-recommended exercises
- Providing transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and procedures
- Picking up prescriptions, grocery shopping, and running other errands
- And many others
Call us at 410-756-0959 for additional helpful resources pertaining to osteoarthritis or other conditions common to aging, and to request a free in-home consultation to learn more about how our highly skilled, fully trained and knowledgeable caregivers in Columbia and the surrounding areas can enhance wellbeing for an older adult you care about.