Living Well with Arthritis
When playing the game of word association, what’s almost certainly the single most common word that comes to mind after “Arthritis”?…Pain! The word arthritis conjures up an image for most of us of an elderly relative, crunched over, complaining of their aches and pains from their arthritis. But arthritis is not just an ‘old person’s disease. It is actually the most common cause of disability in the USA in recent years. Over 20 million individuals are suffering with arthritis today and as a result, have severe limitations in their daily life functions.
There are well over 100 different forms of arthritis, yet the 2 most commonly known are:
- rheumatoid arthritis
Osteoarthritis is still the most common, and is a result of trauma to the joint, infection in the joint, or age. It can affect a number of different joints of the body, including the hands, wrists, feet, back, hip, and knee.
Osteoarthritis begins in the cartilage between two bones and basically, due to ‘wear and tear’, from the damaged cartilage, the bones rub into each other and eventually erode. Initially, the condition starts with minor pain during activities, but it can rapidly increase in intensity, and even occur when a person is simply resting. The pain can eventually become debilitating and prevent someone from performing simple, daily activities. It is more commonly known as a disease of the elderly, and more than 30 percent of women have some degree of osteoarthritis by age 65.
What are the primary risk factors?
- A prior joint trauma
- A sedentary lifestyle
The 2nd most common type of arthritis is Rheumatoid, which is actually a disorder in which the body’s immune system starts to attack body tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis generally affects joints in the fingers, wrists, knees and elbows. The disease is symmetrical (it presents on both sides of the body) and can lead to severe deformity if not treated. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs mostly in adults aged 20 and above.
The major complaint by individuals who have arthritis is pain. The pain is mainly due to inflammation that occurs around the joint, damage to the joint from disease, and the simple daily wear and tear of joint.
Arthritis can make it very difficult for a person to remain physically active, and some do become home bound. People with arthritis are also at increased risk of depression, due to numerous factors including fear of the disease advancing and worsening.
So, what’s the ‘good news’? With early diagnosis and aggressive treatment plans, a person can still lead a decent quality of life for many years into the future. While there is no cure at this time, there are various treatments and ways to reduce the pain and discomfort that comes with arthritis. In very severe cases, surgery may be recommended to replace joints.
Treatment options will vary depending on the type of arthritis and the person’s overall medical health. Many arthritis sufferers can benefit from a treatment plan including:
- physical and occupational therapy
- lifestyle changes (exercise and weight control)
- orthopedic support products
Since arthritis causes the joints to become stiff and the range of movement can be limited, the main goals of treatment are to reduce symptoms and improve a person’s quality of life.
The arthritis support products at Ameswalker.com are designed to provide warming, soothing support to painful joints, reduce swelling and even keep your joints warm in cold weather – which is the most difficult time for arthritis patients.