Impacting 30 million of us within the United States alone, osteoarthritis is a debilitating and painful condition that results from the wearing away of cartilage, leading to friction in the joints as unprotected bones rub against each other. While it can happen in just about any joint, it is most prevalent in the hands, hips, knees, lower back, and neck.
Because it impacts so many of us, it is very important for all of us to know the fundamentals of osteoarthritis and what you should do in the event that you or someone you love is diagnosed. The following important information can help.
- What causes osteoarthritis? Despite the fact that an exact cause is unidentified, it usually strikes seniors and those whose bodies aren’t able to fix 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 prevalent in females than males)
- Occupation (those carrying out repetitive tasks)
- Certain medical conditions (such as other forms of arthritis, joint or cartilage abnormalities, misalignment associated with ankle, knee, or hip, bone diseases)
- What are the symptoms? At first, there may be no apparent symptoms, but as osteoarthritis becomes more serious, signs might include stiffness, swelling, and pain that is more serious when the joint has been at rest for a period of time, along with tenderness, warmth, and trouble moving the joint, and/or a cracking sound as soon as the joint is moved.
- How will the physician diagnose osteoarthritis? The doctor’s evaluation includes tests to rule out other potential causes for the pain and swelling inherent in osteoarthritis, including x-rays, MRIs, blood and joint fluid tests.
- What treatment plans are available? Despite the fact that there’s no cure or treatment to counter the damage resulting from the condition, tips for osteoarthritis management include, relieving symptoms through pain medications, physical therapy and exercise, lifestyle modifications, assistive devices, and/or surgery.
- Can supplements help? Even though some researchers have shown that those with insufficient intake of vitamins C, D and K can experience an elevated risk of being diagnosed with osteoarthritis, the American College of Rheumatology has discovered that using supplements of these vitamins, as well as calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, has not been shown to be safe or effective. It’s crucial that you always check with your physician prior to taking any supplements.
- Help with light housework, laundry, and other responsibilities that are difficult or result in pain
- Planning and preparing healthy, nutritious meals
- Providing motivation and encouragement to participate in doctor-advised exercises
- Supplying transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and procedures
- Picking up prescriptions, grocery shopping, and running other errands
- And many others
Contact us at 847-787-7572 for many more helpful resources pertaining to osteoarthritis or other conditions typical to aging, and to request a complimentary in-home consultation for additional details on how our professional, fully trained and experienced care staff can improve quality of life for the cherished older adult you love.