Osteoarthritis and Aging

Osteoarthritis and aging

Ben White for Unsplash

Arthritis is a common ailment of older people. Although ostearthritis can affect people of any age, osteoarthritis is often a symptom related to the regular process of aging. 

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition where the cartilage that lines the joints wears away. This can cause a lot of pain, as the bones don’t have a good cushion to keep them moving smoothly. In progressive cases, the cartilage completely degenerates, and the bones scrape against each other. In any case, arthritis can cause swelling and bone breakage. Those suffering from arthritis may feel sore and stiff and may have trouble moving.

Types of arthritis

There are about a hundred different types of arthritis, some of which directly affect the elderly population and some of which are not related to age. There are the more common ones:

  1. Osteoarthritis – this wear and tear arthritis is the type that affects people as they age. It afflicts around thirty-one million Americans.
  2. Inflammatory arthritis – this is an umbrella term for various types of the disease. The most well-known is rheumatoid, an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system attacks healthy parts of the body. In this case, the linings of the joints.
  3. Gout – this is a disease also known as metabolic arthritis, where there is an accumulation of uric acid in the joints and the spaces around them. These deposits form solid crystals around the joints.
  4. Infectious arthritis – in this case, an infection enters the joint area and causes swelling. This type of arthritis does not wear down the cartilage, but rather causes other joint problems.

Osteoarthritis can also affect younger people if they overstress their joints, but most people only have to worry about it as they age.

Prevention and cure

While cartilage can regrow, it’s a slow process that’s inhibited by the continual workings of the joints. That’s why rest is an important part of dealing with arthritis. Allowing the bones to rest gives the body a chance to recover.

The best prevention is having a balanced lifestyle that includes proper diet, exercise and rest times. Diet is very important, as weight can strongly affect your joints. If there is excessive weight, if strains certain joints, as they have to work harder to support the extra pounds. Keeping yourself fit can give you an amazing edge against the onset of osteoarthritis.

Exercise helps with keeping your weight down, and it has the added benefit of keeping your limbs supple. While too much exercise can overstress, the right amount helps your joints stay firm and flexible.

This is all important to keep in mind before it’s too late. That means you need to take care of this before arthritis sets in – while you’re still young. In this case, an ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure. While it takes work to keep fit, it’s very difficult to reverse the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Treatment of osteoarthritis

There are two routes to deal with osteoarthritis – therapy and medication. Therapy helps someone keep their joints active and aims to alleviate pain. Medication also tries to alleviate the pain involved.

If these two modalities don’t achieve their goals, a patient may opt for elective joint surgery. The two most common joint replacements are the hip and knee. Many people have successful hip or knee replacements and go on to enjoy pain-free living.

At Sinai Post Acute Care, we offer top-rated service to help people suffering from osteoarthritis. We also provide post surgery rehab for people who undergo joint replacement surgery. Our staff, including doctors, nurses and therapists, combine experience, professionalism and caring into a full-service rehab center for anyone who needs inpatient rehab care.