Although nearly invisible to the eye, arthritis pain affects millions of Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 54 million people in the United State have arthritis — 23% of all adults. In addition, the disease is the leading cause of disability among U.S. adults and is one of the five most costly conditions among adults 18 and older.
Four Types of Arthritis
Despite being so widespread, arthritis is often misunderstood and confused with other diseases. In fact, arthritis isn’t even a single disease, but a blanket term which describes nearly 100 forms of joint pain and similar conditions. The term actually comes from osteoarthritis — the most common ailment — which is also known as degenerative arthritis. Including degenerative arthritis, the disease falls into four broad categories.
As our bodies age, the cartilage between joints breaks down and wears away. Cartilage acts as a cushioning layer between joints and bones. Without it, the bones rub together causing a significant amount of pain and swelling. Over time this can result in chronic pain and damage motor skills in the affected joints.
Inflammatory arthritis, unlike its degenerative cousin, is caused by an overzealous immune system. In order to combat viruses and diseases, the immune system generates internal inflammation. This internal inflammation will at times misidentify a virus and attack the victim’s joints, causing swelling, stiffness, and a great deal of pain.
This condition occurs when a virus, fungus, or a bacteria enters the joints producing a reaction similar to inflammatory arthritis. Infection arthritis could be caused by bacteria from contaminated food, gonorrhea, or hepatitis C.
Metabolic arthritis is caused by an overabundance of uric acid. As the body breaks down purines — a product found in a wide variety of foods and in the body’s own cells — it produces uric acid. Too much uric acid causes tiny, needle-like crystals to form in the joints, resulting in sharp, sudden pain that can become chronic if left untreated.
Treatments and Self-Management
While there’s no available cure for chronic arthritis, some treatments can mitigate symptoms and help those who suffer from the condition. Depending on the severity of the patient’s symptoms, doctors may prescribe medication to combat pain and relating symptoms. However, it’s important patients learn how to manage symptoms without relying solely on medication. Here are six strategies patients can use to help combat their arthritis symptoms.
Tracking pain levels, symptoms, and medication can help patients as well as their doctors and caregivers balance arthritis with the tasks of daily life.
Manage Pain and Fatigue
The most common side effects of arthritis are pain and fatigue. Dealing with those issues on a daily basis can wear patients down and cause them to feel overwhelmed by daily life. Balancing clinically prescribed medications and non-medical pain management techniques is essential to maintaining a higher quality-of-life.
Continue Being Active, Even if it’s Difficult
When you’re suffering from arthritis, it’s tough to stay active. But it’s one of the most important things patients can do to preserve their health. Even moderate exercise helps strengthen the muscles supporting arthritic joints, preserve and even improve range of motion, and improve the patient’s overall health.
Balance Activity and Rest
Sometimes it’s difficult to pause our busy lives and get the rest our bodies require. However, resting throughout the day, especially when arthritis symptoms are acting up, is paramount to managing the disease.
Eat a Balanced and Healthy Diet
Carrying extra body weight puts additional stress on arthritic joints, leading to more pain and discomfort. As a result, eating well and maintaining a healthy weight is a crucial part of managing the disease. So whenever possible, avoid fast foods and unhealthy snacks.
Poor sleep quality can worsen arthritis symptoms. To get the best sleep possible, arthritis patients should practice good sleep hygiene by keeping their bedrooms dark and quiet, removing devices that cause blue light like television sets, tablets, and phones, avoiding caffeine, and unwinding slowly before bed with a warm bath or shower.
Help is Available
Chronic arthritis brings with it a host of symptoms and problems that make daily life difficult and painful. Even getting around the house can prove a chore. In our next article we’ll be taking a closer look at just how devastating arthritis is to daily living. There is hope, however, for living independently with arthritis.
If you or a loved one live in Arizona, contact Generations Home Care today, and we’ll send one of our staff out for a free, in-home consultation to find a plan specifically tailored to the patient’s needs.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care offers personalized in-home care and support services to those recovering from illness, injury or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier and independent life.
We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasize a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term postoperative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.