Affecting 30 million people in the U.S. alone, osteoarthritis is a debilitating and painful condition that results from the wearing away of cartilage, generating friction within the joints as unprotected bones rub against each other. While it can occur in virtually any joint, it most often impacts the hands, hips, knees, lower back, and neck.
Given that it’s so prevalent, it’s very important for everyone to be familiar with the basics of osteoarthritis and what you should do in the event that you or someone you love is diagnosed. The following information can help.
- What causes osteoarthritis? Despite the fact that a specific cause is unknown, it most frequently strikes older adults and those whose bodies aren’t able to fix joint tissue.
- Am I at an increased risk? There are various risk factors:
- Age (most common in those over age 40)
- Trauma or overuse of a joint
- Gender (more prevalent in females than males)
- Profession (people carrying out repetitive tasks)
- Particular medical conditions (especially other types of arthritis, joint or cartilage abnormalities, misalignment associated with ankle, knee, or hip, bone diseases)
- What are the symptoms? At the start, there may be no obvious symptoms, but as osteoarthritis progresses, signs range from stiffness, swelling, and pain that is more intense after the joint has been at rest for some time, along with tenderness, warmth, and trouble moving the joint, and/or a cracking sound as soon as the joint is moved.
- How will a doctor diagnose osteoarthritis? The doctor’s assessment will incorporate tests to rule out other possible causes for the pain and swelling inherent in osteoarthritis, including x-rays, MRIs, blood and joint fluid tests.
- What osteoarthritis treatment plans are available? Despite the fact that there’s no cure or treatment to reverse the damage caused by osteoarthritis, symptoms are usually relieved through pain medications, physical therapy and exercise, lifestyle changes, assistive devices, and/or surgery.
- Can vitamin supplements help? While some research reports have indicated that people with inadequate intake of vitamins C, D and K may have an additional risk of developing osteoarthritis, the American College of Rheumatology has established 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 remember to check with a medical professional before taking any supplements.
- Assistance with light housework, laundry, and various other activities which might be difficult or result in pain
- Planning and preparing healthy, nutritious meals
- Providing motivation and confidence 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 more
Reach out to us at 913-440-4209 for additional helpful resources related to osteoarthritis as well as other conditions typical to aging, and to ask about a complimentary in-home consultation for more details on how our highly skilled, fully trained and experienced care staff can enhance wellbeing for an older adult you love.