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The Basics of Arthritis: Treatment

As the second part of our two-part arthritis series, today we will be talking about the various types of treatment that your loved one can expect if they have been diagnosed or are already living with arthritis.

In part one, we discussed the two most common types of arthritis experienced by the elderly, along with each type’s associated symptoms. These types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Treating and protecting your joints is an essential step in dealing with arthritis. However, we want to go a step further and offer some advice on how to help your loved one best manage their arthritis symptoms.

Tips for arthritis treatment:

Attitude – Encourage someone struggling with arthritis to keep a positive attitude and avoid negative thoughts. Focusing on the negative aspects of the disease can cause a patient to believe the worst and can actually increase the risk of pain and disability. Offer them encouragement and support, and let them know that they are not alone. Encourage them to maintain a positive outlook about their treatment.

Accessories­ – Making sure that your loved one is equipped with the right accessories is a great way to help manage the symptoms of arthritis. For instance, a cane can aid in pain management in their hips, knees and feet when walking (just remember that for the best results, the cane should be fitted by a professional). The right pair of shoes can help relieve pain in those joints as well. Additionally, if your loved one is experiencing arthritis pain in their hands, consider looking into gadgets that can help them more easily open items like jars and bottles, and other objects that require a twisting motion.

Activity –Being active can help in avoiding stiff joints and keeping them flexible. Just like we mentioned in part one, making sure that the muscles that surround the joints are strong can help with the overall joint health. Furthermore, weight management and a balanced diet are integral pieces in the arthritis treatment puzzle. One note: prior to any physical activity and depending on your loved one’s condition, consult with their physician to see what type of activity is safe.

Hot/Cold – Hot and cold treatments have the potential to help reduce the symptoms of arthritis if done correctly.

Hot – Heat therapy by way of a moist heating pad or a warm, damp towel can help to relax muscles and to stimulate blood flow. Be sure that the compress is not too hot so that your loved one doesn’t get burned.

Cold – Cold compresses can be used to reduce both inflammation and joint swelling. Applying an ice pack or a cool compress to the joint that is the source of the pain can help ease the pain and inflammation associated with that joint.

Medicine – Some medicines can help with the pain and swelling that is often associated with arthritis. Below is an overview of the types of medication options for two of the common forms of arthritis in the elderly.

Osteoarthritis – Medicines like acetaminophen and NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ketoprofen, naproxen and ibuprofen can help to ease this sort of arthritis pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis – Anti-rheumatic drugs known as DMARDs (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) can be used to help slow down or stop joint damage. Additionally, corticosteroids can help to ease swelling. As a note, these are strong medicines and should only be taken with a doctor’s prescription.

Living with arthritis can be difficult; that’s why if your or your loved one has this disease, it’s important to learn about various treatment options. By knowing about the symptoms and by taking advice from your doctor, you can help manage the effects of this disease.

Sources:

http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/arthritis-advice#treating

http://www.arthritis.org/arthritis-facts/disease-center/rheumatoid-arthritis.php

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