Arthritis in seniors refers to the pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the joints of the hands, knees, shoulders, and lower back that occur with normal wear and tear or due to a condition like gout or rheumatoid arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the disease develops gradually with age and affects more than 15 million seniors in the United States alone. The condition causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joints, even after you’ve rested. There are sure signs of arthritis in seniors that you should look out for to prevent it from affecting your daily life.
The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis is a progressive degeneration of joints and cartilage. When compared to rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis is much more common and much less disabling. Osteoarthritis can develop in any joint throughout your body, but it usually develops in joints that frequently experience stress, such as those in your hands, knees, and hips. If you’re an older adult experiencing joint pain, weakness, or stiffness that limits your activities, ask your doctor about getting tested for osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases develop when your immune system mistakenly attacks your body tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects multiple joints in a symmetrical pattern, often with morning stiffness and pain, most severely in the early morning hours.
Gout is common amongst seniors with arthritis and occurs when uric acid levels rise too high in your bloodstream. Gout causes swollen joints and intense pain, but it is treatable with medication and lifestyle changes such as eliminating alcohol from your diet. If you suspect Gout arthritis, see a doctor right away so they can accurately diagnose what’s causing your symptoms and prescribe effective treatment options. A doctor may also want to test you for gout if they suspect it to be a culprit behind your symptoms.
Exercises That Can Strengthen Arthritic Seniors
Exercising regularly can provide cardiovascular benefits for many older adults with arthritis. Here are two types of exercises you or your loved ones can try.
- Range-Of-Motion Exercises: Exercise experts recommend range-of-motion exercisesthat target different joints and parts of a joint, such as elbows, wrists, ankles, and fingers. For example, people with arthritis can try a simple exercise by rolling a tennis ball under their feet for 10 seconds before standing up from a seated position. The American College of Rheumatology recommends light weightlifting and stretching to help seniors with arthritis maintain their strength and flexibility.
Strengthening Exercises: For many people with arthritis, exercises that increase strength and endurance, such as lifting weights or resistance bands, can reduce joint pain. People who lift weights have been shown to have less pain, stiffness, and fatigue when compared to those who do not lift weights. Resistance band exercises are a great way to get in a good workout while minimizing weight-bearing stress on your joints. If you’re just starting with an exercise routine, stick with a lightweight first until you get used to it. Then gradually add more resistance as you get stronger.