Did you know that arthritis isn’t a disease? Similar to dementia, arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe the numerous forms of joint disease and joint pain. There are over 100 kinds of arthritis conditions and any ethnicity, age, or sex are susceptible. In fact, in America, arthritis is the leading cause of disability. Over 300,000 kids and 50,000,000 adults have some form of arthritis. Nonetheless, it typically manifests with age and is more common in females.
What is Arthritis?
Simply put, a joint is any section of your body where different bones connect. Arthritis is a condition that causes that connection to inflame.
The pain those afflicted feel is known as arthralgia. If arthritis afflicts four or more of your joints, it is referred to as polyarthritis, two or three, oligoarthritis and one – monoarthritis.
What’s The Cause?
The causes can be classified according to the type:
- Osteoarthritis. This is the most common form of arthritis and is linked to the effects of aging on the joints as well as the surrounding tissues and bones. The actual mechanism that causes tissue breakdown in osteoarthritis isn’t clear yet.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. This is a type of inflammatory arthritis that arises from an autoimmune disorder in the body. An autoimmune disorder is when the body’s immune system malfunctions and starts attacking itself. Here, it attacks the lining of the joints which results in inflammation. This also causes surrounding bones and cartilage to erode over time.
- Infectious Arthritis. A fungus, bacterium, or virus may infiltrate the joint and cause inflammation. Examples of such organisms are Shigella and salmonella (food contamination or poisoning), gonorrhea and chlamydia (sexually transmitted infections), and hepatitis C (blood infections resulting from shared needles). Often, infectious forms of arthritis can be treated with antibiotics. However, sometimes this arthritis becomes chronic.
- Gout. This is a disorder of the metabolic system which affects uric acid homeostasis. This causes a buildup of uric acid crystals in tissue. Thus, deposits of these crystals in the joints and the surrounding tissue often cause inflammation and pain of the joint.
- Fibromyalgia. This is a disease that causes musculoskeletal pain across your body including your joints. Fibromyalgia is not fully understood.
What are the risks?
- Genetics. People whose family has had a history of arthritis conditions are more susceptible to inheriting the genetic factor that causes arthritis.
- Joint injury. An injury to a joint significantly increases the chances of developing acute arthritis to the injured area.
- Obesity. Overweight people are at risk of developing osteoarthritis in their knee joints.
- Infection. Some organisms specifically target joints thus causing arthritis.
- Gender and age. Some arthritis forms, such as rheumatoid arthritis afflict more women than men, while gout tends to affect men more. Also, several types of arthritis are more prevalent among seniors.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Arthritis commonly manifests itself as pain and swelling around a joint. Its symptoms include:
- Swelling and pain
- Redness or/and warmth
- The stiffness of the joint and difficulty in moving
- Limited range of motion
After exhibiting these symptoms, take a physical examination to clarify the authenticity of the signs. The following tests will assist you in diagnosing the condition further.
- Arthroscopy. This involves the insertion of an arthroscope – a thin and flexible tube which has a camera – through an incision at the joint. Arthroscopy gives a visual detail of the affected joint.
- Imaging. Various imaging methods are applied to the joint area – such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), X-ray, ultrasounds, and computerized tomography (CT) – to produce an image of the joint and surrounding tissue.
- Lab tests. These include urine, blood, and joint fluid tests. The results can identify if there’s an infection that can lead to arthritis.
- DNA testing. This will help determine your arthritis susceptibility based on your genetic lineage.
Avoidance of activities known to damage joints is imperative to preventing arthritis. Also, maintaining a healthy weight helps too.
Unfortunately, apart from infectious arthritis, almost all other forms are incurable. In most instances, however, surgical procedures and medication can be used to ease the symptoms and improve the quality of life.
Caring for Someone With Arthritis
When caring for an individual with arthritis , the care goes beyond addressing their physical pain; you will need to deal with psychological issues as well.
However, here are some daily interventions that you can use to relieve their pain:
- Heat and Cold. An elevated temperature will increase blood flow thus reducing swelling. An ice pack can alleviate the pain after joint-use.
- Exercise. This will improve blood flow, increase flexibility and decrease pain.
- Rest. After their exercise, proper rest is essential as well to ease the load off the joint.
- Weight control. This can be done through dieting and adequate exercise to reduce strain on the joint thus preventing further injury.
- Falls. An individual with arthritis is susceptible to falls, and you may have to employ assistive devices to help them with movement.
- Medication. These may assist to control inflammation and pain.
Caring for a loved one with arthritis is a fulltime job. Not only do you have to help ease their physical pain, but you also need to stimulate them mentally to avoid anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, we may at times lack the resources or time to afford the fulltime care. The good news is assisted living homes are an excellent option. Not only do they provide your loved one with round-the-clock care, but they also set them in stimulating environments that allow them to explore their various creative interests.
Ashley Manor is an assisted living facility that offers care to individuals in Colorado, Idaho, and Oregon. Their state-of-the-art facilities and excellent service provide an engaging and therapeutic environment that serves to enhance the quality of your loved ones’ lives. Be sure to check out their services if you live in these states and need some help with taking care of someone with arthritis.