Living with Arthritis

Arthritis affects millions of people of all ages. However, it is particularly common among senior citizens. It is a condition that causes pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints. It limits mobility and can make it difficult to perform even simple tasks.

Types of Arthritis

There are several types of arthritic conditions. Osteoarthritis is the most common type that affects seniors. As people age, the cartilage between the bones wears away causing friction that results in pain and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. The immune system attacks the lining of the joints causing damage that results in pain, stiffness, and swelling. Gout is an arthritic condition that is often seen in senior citizens. It occurs when uric acid crystals form in the joint tissues. It is an extremely painful. There are other types that can affect the spine and other joints causing pain, loss of flexibility and a hunched or gnarled appearance of the affected area.

Causes of Arthritis

Arthritis is not caused by one single factor but by many. Injury, infection, and genetics all play a role in whether a person develops the condition. Although it is uncertain whether it is inherited it does seem that people who have a family history are more likely to develop an arthritic condition. Women are more likely to be affected than men. Lifestyle factors such as smoking also increase the risk of developing a type of arthritic condition.

Management of Arthritis

Living with arthritis can be difficult but there are steps you can take to manage the condition. Your physician can prescribe pain medication to provide relief. Alternate hot and cold packs to lessen swelling. Try to get moderate exercise to strengthen the muscles and keep joints flexible. However, you should avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting which may only damage joints further. Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of rest. Do not smoke or drink alcohol since these activities can increase risk factors for developing or worsening arthritis. Talk with your physician about alternative therapies.