Have you ever exercised and woken up stiff and sore the next day? As uncomfortable as that may be, it is the kind of stiffness that is a natural reaction of muscles having worked harder than usual. This discomfort usually lasts no longer than 24 hours, unlike pain and stiffness caused by arthritis.
Arthritis is a joint disorder characterized by stiffness and inflammation. It is also a degenerative disease, meaning that the symptoms of the disease get worse over time. Studies done by The Center for Disease Control (CDC) show that 23 percent of seniors at home and in senior care, will suffer from cartilage damage a form of arthritis in their lifetime.
Cartilage cushions bones and joints. When cartilage is damaged by wear and tear or by disease, bones rub together resulting in friction, inflammation, stiffness, and pain. Senior Care facilities are familiar with this condition, and its variations and know-how to help the seniors in their care deal with the symptoms.
The Different Types Of Arthritis
Arthritis can attack any joint of the body. It is generally characterized by joint pain and stiffness and presents most commonly in seniors over the age of 65 years.
The most common types of arthritis include:
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and occurs most often in seniors. Cartilage, the tissue that pads joint bones, becomes ragged and gradually wears away, causing severe pain, even at rest. Osteoarthritis is characterized by joint stiffness especially when walking, bending, and stooping.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease that attacks the joint lining, resulting in inflamed joints. This disease can occur at any age, and women appear to be more susceptible. Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by:
- Painful Joints
- Joint Swelling
- Joint Stiffness
- A Marked Decrease in Joint Mobility
Gout is described as being the most painful type of arthritis. It presents mainly in the big toe but can also occur in any other joint. Uric acid crystals that form on connective tissue and joint spaces, cause severe swelling, redness / purple skin color, stiffness, and severe pain. Gout is often triggered by foods such as:
- Dried Beans
Tips For Seniors Dealing With Arthritis
There is no simple method of treating arthritis pain, and most successful methods are discovered by trial and error. The most common methods include a combination of rest, exercise, and diet, but how you treat arthritis pain will depend on:
- The Type of Arthritis.
- The Severity of the Pain.
- The Sufferer’s General Health.
Effective Methods of Reducing Arthritic Pain
People living in areas with cold winters, often complain that the cold weather exacerbates their pain. Seniors living in Florida already have the advantage of warm weather all year, so other ways of managing arthritic pain include:
Reducing Stress On The Joints
Resting and protecting the affected joints is a very effective method of pain management. Reduce the stress on the painful joints by using gadgets like jar openers, dressing tools like zipper pulls and button aids, and bath bars and handrails, whenever possible.
Hot and Cold Packs
Painful joints respond well to heat, cold, or sometimes a combination of both. To reduce joint stiffness when you wake up, apply a warm towel heat pack, or have a warm shower. For painful or swollen joints, an ice pack or even frozen peas or corn molded around the painful joint is known to provide relief.
Wearing The Correct Shoes
There are 33 joints in the human foot, and all these can be affected by arthritis. Wearing the correct shoes, or placing a wedge or insoles in your shoes, can play a huge role in pain control.
After a thorough consultation, your doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to help with the pain. It is always advisable to consult your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medication or creams.
Your doctor may recommend surgery to repair or replace joints such as hips and knees if the pain and damage to the joints are disabling.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Any extra weight you carry will put unnecessary pressure on already painful joints. It is very important to maintain a healthy weight with a well-balanced diet and regular exercise.
How To Exercise If You Suffer From Arthritis
Exercise must be intentional, to strengthen muscles and loosen stiff joints, but the “no pain no gain” mindset must never be applied. Here are some exercise tips:
- Get the all-clear from the doctor before you start any new exercise routine. Discuss any specific pain needs you have so that they can assist you to manage the pain.
- Start slowly. If you are very stiff, applying a heat pack before starting may help. Do gentle range of motion movements as a warm-up before proceeding with the exercise routine you have chosen.
- Low impact exercises like cycling, swimming, and water aerobics are very beneficial and place less strain on painful joints.
- Include strength training in your routine, strong muscles help to support painful joints.
- Vary your routine. Mixing up your exercise routine will benefit your overall fitness and strength and prevent you from getting bored.
- Make sure you hydrate properly while exercising.
- Ensure you do not neglect to stretch and recover after any workout.
Eastside Active Living, The Senior Care Facility Of Choice In South Florida
At Eastside Active Living we understand that each resident’s requirements and needs are different, so we offer personalized assisted and independent living care options. If you would like more information or would like to arrange a tour of our facility, contact us at 954-923-5057 today.