How Arthritis Can Limit Your Everyday Life

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Image result for ArthritisOsteoarthritis, a common form of arthritis, is the leading cause of disability in people over the age of 65. The joints which are affected most commonly are the spine, knees, hips and some of the small joints of the hands and feet. Due to gradual destruction of the joints, the following symptoms emerge:
PAIN: The pain experienced by arthritics is typically aching in character. Pain is commonly one of the first symptoms noticed and it usually appears gradually and may be intermittent at first. It is precipitated by movement and load-bearing, and relieved by rest. However, as the disease progresses, the pain will occur even at rest and often people are woken at night by the dull throbbing pain.
IMMOBILITY: Fibrosis of the joint capsule means that the whole joint tightens up, decreasing the individual’s range of movement. Another aspect of the disease is thickening of the bone resulting in bony swellings. This extra bone can get in the way of normal joint movement.
MUSCLE WEAKNESS: Muscles of the legs, hands and feet may waste away leaving the person with little strength to perform normal activities.
When all of the above factors are considered together, it can be understood why arthritic individuals face many struggles in their everyday lives. Arthritis affecting the hip results in stiffness and pain which limits movement and exercise capacity. Wasting of the muscles means that patients with hip or knee arthritis may not be able to walk properly or even support their own weight. Climbing stairs also becomes problematic for many people. Tender and swollen hands mean simple tasks like doing up buttons or shoe-laces become an arduous chore, and often these people need a lot of assistance just to get by. Loosing their independence is quite a blow for many otherwise healthy people!
Thankfully there are some good osteoarthritis treatments which can slow the progression of the disease, relieve symptoms and restore some function. Some people may benefit from physiotherapy or other exercise-based therapies. Others require specific equipment such as knee braces or special footwear to stabilise and protect their vulnerable joints. Drug therapies are used to relieve pain and to decelerate disease progression. The last resort arthritis treatment is for those who continue to suffer despite drugs and other therapies; joint replacement surgery can often provide an individual with a new lease of life and allow them to participate once more in the activities that their arthritis had previously made impossible.

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