Arthritis

Arthritis Information You Should Know if You are 60 or Over

There are two basic kinds of arthritis. Both can be very painful and have a profound affect on the lives of the people they afflict. Understanding the process behind the different kinds of arthritis can help you to manage the painful effects of these diseases.

Osteo-arthritis tends to affect the larger joints, such as the knees and hips, as well as the joints of your fingers. It is caused by the degeneration, or breakdown, of cartilage lining the joints, and it is caused by overuse and erosion. It is generally a localized illness, meaning that it affects joints without hurting internal organs.

Rheumatoid arthritis, in contrast, is a systemic illness, with it's most obvious effects on the smaller joints such as fingers. It can also affect the spine. It is one of a group of diseases classified as "auto immune." This means that antibodies produced by the victim's own white blood cells attack the joints, causing the destruction of the joint lining and leading to pain and difficulty using the joints.

Most elderly people with arthritis are affected by the osteo-arthritis, as a result of the cartilage simply wearing out from years of walking, playing sports, and participating in other activities.

Both kinds of arthritis can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Rheumatoid arthritis sometimes requires more exotic medications such as steroids, gold salts and methotrexate. These medications are only available with a doctor's prescription.

Physical therapy, rest and application of warm compresses may provide some temporary relief from the symptoms of arthritis for a short period of time. These treatments are not useful in reversing or stopping the disease from continuing and worsening. The goal for these treatments is pain relief and arthritis management.

To stop the breakdown of cartilage caused by osteo-arthritis in the larger weight bearing joints, such as the knees and hips, you may consider weight loss. If your condition is aggravated by excessive weight, this can be very useful. In fact, it may stop the progression of osteo-arthritis in the knees or hips that may otherwise deteriorate to the point of needing a total knee or hip replacement.

It is important to discuss your arthritis with your physician and get his or her recommendations before trying any program of diet or exercise. You don't want to aggravate your arthritis with an exercise program that isn't right for your condition.

Arthritis can be a painful disease to live with, but the symptoms are manageable with the combination of diet, exercise, therapy and medications.

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