Arthritis FAST FACTS
– Arthritis is the nation’s No. 1 cause of disability.
– The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis, affects an estimated 31 million Americans.
– In the U.S., 23% of all adults—more than 54 million people—have arthritis. That’s 1 in 5 people age 18 or over.
– Arthritis is more common among women (24%) than men (18%), and it affects all racial and ethnic groups.
– Arthritis commonly occurs with other chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
What is Arthritis?
Most people think of arthritis as an old people’s problem, but it’s not strictly a disease of old age. Although almost half of adults age 65 or older have arthritis, two-thirds of those with the condition are under age 65.
The term arthritis refers to more than 100 diseases and conditions affecting the joints, the most common of which is osteoarthritis. Other forms include gout, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage, the tissue that cushions the ends of the bones within the joints, breaks down and wears away. In some cases, all of the cartilage may wear away, leaving bones that rub up against each other.
Symptoms include pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in or around the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can affect multiple organs and cause widespread symptoms.
Arthritis has a severe impact on daily life if it is not managed. Medication can help – typically it is treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and pain relievers, but adding other coping strategies can improve your results.
Steps You Can Take to Manage Your Symptoms
1. See your health care provider.
Early diagnosis and appropriate medical treatment can slow progression, prevent unnecessary disability and preserve independence.
2. Educate yourself.
Learn about the ins and outs of arthritis at your own pace, where and when you learn best. Subscribe to publications from national organizations such as the Arthritis Foundation: arthritis.org; and consult reputable websites like the National Institutes of Health: www.niams.nih.gov, or the Centers for Disease Control: cdc.gov/arthritis.
3. Talk with a health professional.
Talk with a health professional who can help you understand your disorder and teach you to manage it through self-monitoring, goal setting and decision-making.
4. Be physically active.
This may sound wrong when you’re hurting, but regular activity such as walking, bicycling, and swimming, can significantly decrease pain and improve your abilities, mood, and quality of life.
5. Protect your joints.
Maintain a healthy weight; even small amounts of weight loss can reduce pressure on your joints. Additionally, following occupational and sports safety guidelines can help avoid joint injuries that may lead to arthritis.
Ask for Home Health Care
Unfortunately, arthritis often occurs in combination with other health problems. Depression, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and sleep problems all can interfere with your ability and your willpower to follow physicians’ directions and self-manage your condition.
This may be a time to call in a team of home care professionals who can monitor your condition, check regularly on your progress, provide hands-on care and instruction and teach you how to get past those hard places – when you’d rather just stay where you are.
Village Home Health’s care team of nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists can help with:
– Ongoing education about your conditions and how they interact with one another
– Exercises to help strengthen the muscles that protect your joints, as well as energy conservation
– Adaptive equipment that will make daily tasks easier to accomplish
– Working on specific skills and goals to help you return to work safely
Learn more about how Village Home Health can help you. Call our Referral Line at 816-287-1216 or visit JKVHealthServices.org/Home-Health.