When people think of arthritis in seniors, most know about osteoarthritis, but did you know that there are more than 100 forms of this joint disease. By knowing all the forms of arthritis, we can better understand the individual’s problem and how it will affect them.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a term used for a group of painful diseases that cause inflammation of the joints. The symptoms can include pain, inflammation, joint stiffness, deformity, and loss of joint function. It is a breakdown of collagen, a protein used to build the cells in our joints. An inflammatory process occurs in the joints, which causes them to become stiff, painful, and swollen.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis, but several ways exist to manage the symptoms and slow down its development. But first, it’s important to know about the other types of arthritis, so you can better help your elderly loved ones find relief.
What are the Common Types of Arthritis?
Osteoarthritis is also referred to as a degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis is commonly used to describe the pain associated with cartilage breakdown around the body’s joints.
The cartilage in the joints becomes torn and causes the bones to rub against each other. This causes pain and swelling, which inhibits joint function and movement.
Once you have osteoarthritis, it’s never going to go away. The good news is that you can manage the pain and stiffness through medication, exercise, and rehabilitation. Usually, you’ll have to work closely with your care team to develop the best treatment plan for you.
2. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
The main difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis is the cause. While osteoarthritis is the cartilage breakdown, RA results from an autoimmune attack on the body. It’s referred to as an autoimmune disease because the body’s immune system produces antibodies that attack healthy tissues in the joints.
People with RA often notice more inflammation and swelling. They also experience more pain, as well as stiffness in their joints. While this type of arthritis can affect many joints, it most commonly affects the hands and feet. Treatment for RA includes medications and physical therapy.
3. Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis can affect one or many joints, but it has the same symptoms as RA, such as pain and inflammation. Psoriatic arthritis is caused by psoriasis, a disease that causes scaly patches of skin and swelling around the joints. Psoriasis usually affects the scalp, knees, elbows, and lower back.
Psoriatic arthritis can be challenging to diagnose, as symptoms can appear years after the psoriasis is diagnosed. It develops in about 15 percent of people with psoriasis. Treatment for this type of arthritis is the same as RA.
The Bottom Line: Caring for Seniors with Arthritis and Knowing their Different Needs
While knowing exactly what type of arthritis someone has is tough, you can better help them manage their symptoms. Once you know what type of arthritis they have, you can better help them handle the pain and stiffness.
Many people with arthritis also suffer from depression and anxiety, as it can be hard to live with a disease that has no cure and causes such pain. Take the time to learn about the different types of arthritis, so you can better help your senior loved one.
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