Arthritis can be described as an inflammation of a joint or joints hence causing pain. Contrary to what many people think, it is not a single disease. The name arthritis is a casual way of referring to many diseases of the joint. Arthritis affects people of all ages, races and gender including retirement living Houston seniors. However, the disease tends to be more predominant among older people especially women. This condition is the leading cause of disabilities in America as it affects about 300000 children and 50 million adults.
Each type of arthritis manifests in its own unique way.
Combating arthritis for retirement living Houston seniors
There are over one hundred forms of arthritis and related illnesses but the most common are, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.
In this type of arthritis, the joints are attacked by the body’s own immune system. The immune system is meant to attack foreign substances in our bodies and protect us from diseases. In people with this type of arthritis, the immune system becomes overactive and attacks the lining of the joints causing severe pain. If this goes on for a long time, the joint is broken down and damaged permanently.
Fibromyalgia occurs when the spinal cord and brain process pain differently. A movement that does not normally cause pain in other people causes pain in people with this condition. Likewise, a movement that causes mild pain to others causes severe pain to people with fibromyalgia. It is also characterized by other symptoms like poor concentration, inability to sleep, fatigue and mood swings.
This is a form of inflammatory arthritis caused when excess uric acid forms crystals that build up in joints. This causes excruciating pain. Mostly, it affects the joints of the big toe although it may affect other joints as well.
In this type, the protective cartilage of the joints breaks down causing the bones to rub directly against one another. This causes extreme pain.
This form, like rheumatoid arthritis, is an autoimmune inflammatory disease. The immune system attacks the body, causing severe pain in joints and other organs.
Causes of Arthritis
The most common causes of arthritis are:
- Genetics: parents who suffer from arthritis can pass the genes to their offspring as the condition is known to run in a family’s lineage.
- Stress: one form of arthritis, rheumatic arthritis, is linked to cytokines, molecules found in our bodies. Although these molecules are produced for different reasons, stress can cause excess production hence increasing the risk for arthritis.
- Infection: when people are infected with certain illnesses, bacteria, viruses or fungi may travel through the bloodstream to the joints causing inflammation to these areas.
- Fatigue: participating in long day activities can overexert the joints making them to become inflamed.
- Age: older people are said to be at a higher risk of contracting arthritis.
- Weight: having excess weight puts more stress on joints especially those found on the lower part of the body. People who are overweight have a high risk of developing arthritis.
- Work hazards: Getting involved in activities that subject the joint to excessive squatting can cause arthritis.
Home Remedies for Arthritis
Good news for seniors who may be suffering from arthritis is that there are some home remedies to deal with it. They include:
- Weight loss: excessive weight is known to be a risk factor for arthritis. Seniors should work towards achieving and maintaining a healthy weight to reduce the risks for developing arthritis.
- Moderate intensity in exercise: Although regular exercise is a good way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it should not be overdone. Seniors should take part in joint friendly activities like walking, swimming and cycling.
- Herbs: various herbs and spices have been recommended for arthritis although more research is needed to confirm this. They include, garlic, turmeric, green tea, black pepper and ginger.
- Diet: there is no known diet that treats arthritis, but some diets can help to reduce its effects. The following foods provide nutrients that are good for joints: olive oil, fish, beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Similarly, there are certain foods that arthritis victims should avoid. Vegetables like tomatoes are linked to increased arthritis pain and should be avoided.
- Lifestyle: there are several habits that a person with arthritis should incorporate in their lifestyle. They are:
- Staying active– physical activity is important in managing overall health.
- Rest: in addition to exercise, rest is important in maintaining good health.
- Improving sleep– lack of enough sleep can increase arthritis pain. Seniors should maintain good sleeping hygiene so they find it easy to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Joint care– this includes using the large joints as levers and using several joints to spread the weight of an object.
- Managing pain– medication can be used together with natural remedies to manage the pain caused by arthritis.
The most important thing seniors living with arthritis should do is to know the progress of their condition and, then develop a good relationship with their doctors and those who take care of them.
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