Arthritis affects people over 55 years of age. It’s a common joint disease affecting more than 80% of seniors, especially women after menopause. This condition mostly weakens the knees in the elderly. Most common symptoms include increased pain during activity followed by periods of rest.
However, in the advanced stage, patients experience pain even during the rest phase. Another prominent symptom of arthritis is morning stiffness that typically lasts 30 minutes. Millions of adults live with this condition in the United States.
Even though there is no cure for arthritis, its impact can be reduced through a greater understanding of the disease. Therefore, we have covered the detection and management of arthritis in detail.
Let’s understand the diagnosis first:
Diagnosis of Arthritis
Doctors look for any redness or swelling of joints during the physical exam. They analyze your movements to see if you are experiencing pain in your joints. Management of chronic arthritis pain in the elderly begins with a proper diagnosis.
Therefore, if the doctor suspects, you would be required to undergo specific laboratory tests for confirmation. Analysis of body fluids such as joint fluid, urine, and blood allows them to properly detect the condition.
Apart from that, specific imaging techniques are essential in the diagnosis of arthritis. The most common techniques include:
Ultrasound: This high-frequency sound wave technology is used for imaging fluid-containing structures (bursae), cartilage, and soft tissues. Ultrasound is also used by doctors for needle placement while injecting the patient.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A combination of the strong magnetic field and radio waves are used for producing cross-sectional images of ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.
Computerized Tomography (CT): It’s a more advanced version of an X-ray. Doctors create cross-sectional views of the joints by combining two-dimensional images from different angles. This technology helps visualize the bone as well as surround soft tissues.
X-rays: Radiologists use X-rays to detect bone spurs, bone damage, and cartilage loss. This technology is commonly used to track the disease’s progression. However, to reveal early arthritic damage, X-ray imaging may not be enough.
This brings us to our next section, where we will discuss the arthritis management strategies in detail.
Management of Arthritis
The treatment plan created by care specialists and the primary doctor is focused on improving joint function and relieving symptoms. They may prescribe painkillers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, counterirritants, corticosteroids, or biologic response modifiers during the treatment.
Our focus is, however, on lifestyle changes, therapy, and home remedies. Seniors can significantly reduce their symptoms with the help of the following measures:
Exercise: Seniors living with arthritis often experience reduced mobility in their joints. Therefore, one of the most critical arthritis management strategies is doing regular exercise. Water aerobics is great for maintaining the flexibility of joints because of the reduced stress.
Weight Loss: People who are overweight experience more pressure on their joints. For arthritic patients, this additional weight becomes a huge problem. Hence, losing those extra pounds is crucial for alleviating the stress on those weight-bearing joints. Furthermore, it minimizes the chance of joint injury in the future.
Assistive Devices: For the management of arthritis, seniors can use assistive devices such as raised toilet seats, walkers, shoe inserts, and canes to protect their joints. Such devices also improve their ability to function in day-to-day life.
Heat and Cold: Though temporarily, ice packs or heating pads may help ease some arthritis pain.
Apart from the lifestyle mentioned above changes and home remedies, seniors can also opt for physical therapy to manage chronic pain. In many cases, braces or splints may be necessary.
Therapy can help strengthen the muscles around joints and improve the range of motion. Seniors are always vulnerable to falls, and physical therapy is an excellent way for them to move safely.
Seniors living with arthritis require a lot more than just medications to manage their condition. They need to make lifestyle changes, undertake physical therapy, and try some home remedies to get some relief from the pain.
If you or your family member need professional help for the management of arthritis, the dedicated team of care specialists at AdvantagePlusNurses can help!
We ensure that patients can lead a good quality of life, stick to their medication schedule, and follow the lifestyle changes suggested in this blog post.