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Understanding Osteoarthritis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

By Jennifer Thompson, 9:00 am on

Although there are more than 100 types of arthritis, the most common occurring type in the elderly is called osteoarthritis, which affects the joints and cartilage in the hands, spine, knees, and hips. The best way to help your senior loved one manage his or her OA is to have a basic understanding of the causes, symptoms, and possible treatments.

Causes

Sometimes, something as simple and unavoidable as aging or general wear and tear on the body can lead to osteoarthritis, but other factors such as genetic defects, sports injuries, or being overweight can increase risk as well. Gender can also play a part, Nashville senior home care professionals note, as women over the age of 55 are more susceptible to osteoarthritis.

Symptoms

Pain, stiffness, or tenderness in the joints after movement will be an obvious indicator, with effects that are often worse later in the day. Some may only feel moderate, tolerable pain, while others may have more significant effects that disrupt everyday life (though the former is more common). Swelling is another symptom to watch for, especially on or around the joints. Osteoarthritis in the elderly often decreases the range of motion, making it difficult to bend elbows or knees.

Treatment

Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are treatment options that can help relieve osteoarthritis symptoms. Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen can help reduce pain, but exercising and physical therapy, although counterintuitive, are ideal for joints. Encourage your senior loved one to try low or no-impact exercises like water aerobics or walking that won’t put added stress on the joints. Exercising also helps lubricate joints and releases the body’s natural pain-reliving hormone.

As a last result, your loved one may want to consider surgery. This is typically reserved for those with the most severe symptoms when conservative treatments fail to relieve pain or if too much cartilage has been lost over time.

Osteoarthritis can be tough to face, but with a little know-how and the right attitude, most people with this condition can maintain a high quality of living. However, if arthritis symptoms are making daily tasks more challenging for your senior loved one, turn to Home Care Assistance. We offer trusted hourly and live-in home care in Nashville, ensuring seniors have help with everyday tasks anytime of day or night. To learn more, give a friendly Care Manager a call at (615) 656-4999 and request a free in-home consultation today.