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Oh, those aching joints! Plenty of seniors experience the aches, uncomfortableness and stiffness that are the trademark symptoms of arthritis, and presume it has to be the cause. But in reality, there are a number of ailments that resemble arthritis symptoms, yet in many cases must be dealt with in different ways in order to provide relief. Prior to popping another ibuprofen and hoping it relieves the pain, browse through the following list of other diagnoses that could possibly be at play, courtesy of Hearts at Home.


Although similar to arthritis in the joint pain it causes, fibromyalgia does not normally cause swelling, nor is it degenerative. There’s no wearing away or deformity of joints, but instead it has an inclination to create soreness in various areas of the body. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that most frequently occurs in women, causing the brain to overreact to the body’s pain signals.


Similar to fibromyalgia, lupus isn’t going to erode or disfigure the joints, but the pain endured can be deceptively like to that of arthritis, although usually slightly less severe. Lupus, however, as an autoimmune disease, also impacts internal organs, skin, and blood vessels, along with the joints.


Gout actually is a particular form of arthritis, but is caused by enhanced levels of uric acid in the blood and typically presents at first in the big toe with extreme pain, swelling, redness and a heated sensation. Left untreated, gout starts to erode and deform the joints, much like the effects of arthritis, and could impact any region of the body. Patches of uric acid crystals can often be noted on the skin as well, helping to distinguish it from typical arthritis.

Lyme Disease

Joint and muscle pain, in some cases (but not always) together with exhaustion, body aches, stiffness and fever, are indicative of Lyme disease, an infectious disease generally transmitted by ticks. In the later phases of the disease, it’s common for one large joint in the lower region of the body to become swollen and painful.

Reiter’s Syndrome (Reactive Arthritis)

Caused by infection, this condition is usually noted on only one side of the body and involves swelling of one particular body part – usually a toe. Swelling and irritation of tendons, muscles, and ligaments is also fundamental to Reiter’s Syndrome, in addition to mouth ulcers, conjunctivitis, UTIs and fever. The condition generally improves within a few months, unlike other types of chronic arthritis.

It’s important for older adults suffering from joint pain or discomfort to schedule an appointment with the doctor to determine the cause and most beneficial treatment plan.

Hearts at Home, providers of elder care in Overland Park and the surrounding areas, is here to render help and support in a wide array of ways for those challenged by any condition of aging. Whether the need is for assistance with duties around the home such as cleaning, organizing, and preparing meals, transportation to health-related appointments and other outings, help with safe showering and dressing, or simply a friendly companion to improve quality of life, we’re available with the individualized care each senior needs.

Contact us to learn more about our in-home senior care solutions or to schedule a free in-home assessment by calling 913-440-4209.