Arthritis: A Pain in the Joint

Arthritis: A Pain in the Joint

By: #TakeTime4U

May 22, 2018

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Whether it’s caused by long-term wear and tear or damage from an injury, arthritis can be a real pain.

Nearly 50 percent of Americans age 65 or older live with arthritis, a sort of catchall term used to describe more than 100 conditions in which inflammation causes pain and stiffness in your joints. Arthritis is more common in women, and it is the most prominent cause of disability in American adults.

Perhaps the most well-known type of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA), which usually develops due to wear and tear of the cartilage in your joints over time. In a healthy joint, your cartilage acts as padding where the two bones meet. In a joint affected by OA, the cartilage can be severely thinned or nonexistent, which, in some cases, can lead to excess growth on the end of the bones.

Symptoms of OA include:

  • Joint pain
  • Stiffness of the joint
  • Swelling of the joint
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Redness or warmth around the joint

You may notice your arthritis symptoms are worse in the mornings, as the effects of OA usually worsen with rest and improve with activity.

Treating Your Arthritis

Finding the right arthritis treatment for you cannot only help you stay active and engaged in your life by easing pain, but it can also prevent further joint damage and injury. Physical activity keeps the muscles around your joints strong and helps you maintain mobility, which can ward off stiffness.

Several different kinds of medication are used to treat arthritis:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—Ibuprofen and naproxen are two of the most common NSAIDs that can help with both pain and inflammation, but should not be used by people who take blood-thinning medications, as they can have similar effects. Consult your doctor about whether you can take NSAIDs.
  • Immunosuppressants—Cortisone and prednisone, both steroids, can be used to control inflammation in the affected joints.

In some cases, arthritis is so severe that surgery (most frequently joint replacement of the knee or hip) becomes an option. While surgery is never the first option for arthritis treatment, it can be valuable for people looking to get back to the daily activities they love. Physical therapy is often involved prior to surgery and is always part of recovery after the fact.

For more information about our health services for older adults, visit stvincent.org/Services/Senior-Services.

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