Most people are aware of arthritis as a common symptom of aging, but did you know there are different types of arthritis? They all have different causes and symptoms, so if you think you or a loved one might be suffering from arthritis, it is best to have an idea of the different types of arthritis before you jump to any conclusions about what might be causing your arthritis or the best way to move forward.
Keep in mind that a blog post does not constitute medical advice. The best course of action is always to consult with your doctor so they can perform an exam and provide you with a diagnosis.
Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage in the joint begins to break down, causing the bones to rub against each other when the joint is used. This can be extremely painful, and is the most common reason for older Americans to lose mobility as they age.
Osteoarthritis is most common in the hands, hips, and knees, but is by no means limited to those joints. Any joint that has been used frequently over a long period of time can be susceptible to osteoarthritis. After all, it is called “wear and tear” arthritis for a reason.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells in the body. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system primarily attacks the joints, usually the hands, wrists, and knees. It is common for several joints to be affected by rheumatoid arthritis all at the same time.
Because it is an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis tends to cause the affected joints to become inflamed as the body tries to flood the area with white blood cells. This damages the joint tissue and can cause chronic pain in the affected joints, and even cause them to become misshapen, especially if left untreated for a long period of time.
In addition to the joints, rheumatoid arthritis can also affect various organs in the body, including the lungs, heart, and eyes.
Rather than targeting just the joints, fibromyalgia causes pain all over the body. Sleep problems are another common symptom of fibromyalgia, but in many cases, it is not a separate symptom, but rather a result of the chronic pain keeping the person awake throughout the night. Fatigue and emotional and mental distress, including depression and anxiety, are also common symptoms of fibromyalgia, but they also tend to go hand-in-hand with sleep deprivation. In most cases, if the patient can be cured of their pain and allowed to sleep, the other symptoms tend to vanish.
We still do not know exactly what causes fibromyalgia, but the good news is there are ways to manage it.
Gout is another type of arthritis caused by inflammation, and it usually only affects one joint at a time. Gout is most commonly experienced in the joint of the big toe, and is characterized by flare ups of intense pain, followed by periods of remission in which little-to-no pain is experienced.
There is no cure for gout, but it can be managed with medication and a diet that is low in alcohol and rich foods.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we provide a wide range of aid levels to make sure our residents have the level of care they need, while leaving them the independence to perform their own daily tasks whenever possible. If you or a loved one is suffering from a form of arthritis and you think it might be time for assisted living, we would love to have a conversation with you.