Arthritis and Aging

Published by Steve Hedberg on November 8, 2011 Under arthritis

Elderly people are more susceptible to a number of disorders, but the most commonly thought of senior disease is arthritis. Even though arthritis can affect those of any age, it is far more common in seniors, with a majority of seniors experiencing some form of arthritis by the time they are sixty-five. Like any disorder, it is important to understand how it works and what the effects of arthritis are, to better treat and prevent it.

Senior arthritis is very common, but many people do not realize that arthritis is actually a very broad term used to describe a number of different diseases. There are actually over 100 different types of arthritis, many of which affect the body quite differently than one typically views arthritis. With that said, most types of arthritis share some similarities, mainly that they affect the body’s joints.

Arthritis commonly causes swelling and inflammation of the joints, making it difficult to get around, as well as increasing the risk for a fall or other injury. Often, this is caused as the cartilage around the joint deteriorates, wears away, or is attacked by disease. Cartilage acts as sort of a buffer or padding between the joints, ensuring that they can freely move without rubbing together. In someone with arthritis, it is common for the cartilage around the joints to be reduced, causing the bones to rub together. In some instances, this will cause small pieces of bones to break off around the joint, further causing difficulties.

Even though joint swelling, inflammation, and soreness is the most common symptom of arthritis, there are actually a number of other Arthritis symptoms, many of which affect the body quite differently. For example, fatigue and loss of appetite can often occur, as can a general feeling of discomfort called malaise. Other symptoms, such as damage to the organs and dry eyes or mouth also occur with certain types of arthritis.

For seniors, the most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is often referenced as wear-and-tear arthritis. This type of arthritis can affect almost any joint and is usually the result of cartilage around the joints wearing away over time.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is another common type of senior arthritis, however it is classified as an autoimmune disorder, which means the body’s own immune system begins to fight itself, attacking cartilage and in some cases other organs.

Preventing arthritis is something that can not always be done and it is not currently possible to reverse the effects of the disease. However, in many cases, safe regular exercise and a healthy diet can go a long way towards preventing the arthritis from getting worse and helping to reduce arthritis pain. It is important to speak with a doctor to identify what sorts of exercises are safe, but in most cases low impact exercises, such as walking or swimming, can help strengthen the muscles around the joint, without making the disease worse.

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