Many Americans are susceptible to all sorts of diseases. For example, some Americans are exposed to cancer, while others are susceptible to developing Alzheimer's disease. However, there is one disease in particular that a majority of Americans will eventually experience: osteoarthritis. Here's what you need to know about it and how you can help someone who has it.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is arthritis that causes progressive damage to the cartilage in your joints. The cartilage is the smooth tissue that covers the ends of bones. It's where the joints are also located. When this tissue breaks down, it can lead to pain, stiffness, and swelling.
There are many types of osteoarthritis, but the most common is degenerative osteoarthritis, also known as wear-and-tear arthritis. This type usually occurs as we age and our joints start to wear down from years of use. Other types include post-traumatic arthritis, which can develop after an injury; inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis; and septic arthritis, which is caused by an infection. If there is one thing that's common among these forms of arthritis is that they can be debilitating.
Prevalence of Osteoarthritis in the United States
According to the CDC, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It affects more than 30 million adults in the United States, which is expected to grow as our population ages. The condition is also the leading cause of disability in adults aged 65 and older.
Risk factors for developing osteoarthritis include:
There is currently no cure for osteoarthritis. However, it can be treated. If you have someone in your household who has it, you can care for them by following these tips.
Help Them Get Exercise
For people with osteoarthritis, exercise is crucial. It helps to increase joint flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance. It also helps improve the range of motion, which the condition can limit.
The best exercises for people with osteoarthritis are low-impact ones that don't put too much stress on the joints. These include walking, swimming, biking, and using an elliptical machine. Tai chi and yoga are also good options.
You can help your loved ones by exercising or going to the gym. You can also look up local classes they might be interested in taking.
Help Them Manage Their Pain
Pain is a common symptom of osteoarthritis. It can range from a dull ache to a sharp, burning sensation. The pain can be constant, or it can come and go.
There are many ways to manage pain. Over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help. So can applied heat or cold. Physical therapy, acupuncture, and massage are also good options.
You can help your loved ones by keeping track of their pain levels. You can also help them find pain management methods that work for them.
Help Them Keep Their Joints Healthy
People with osteoarthritis can do things to keep their joints healthy and reduce the risk of further damage. These include:
You can help your loved ones by assisting them in losing weight if necessary. You can also help them plan their day to take breaks often. And if they're doing something that could put their joints at risk, you can help them take precautions.
Get Professional Help
Osteoarthritis can be a difficult condition to manage. If your loved ones are having trouble doing so, you can help them get professional help. You can help them visit the doctor several times a year to help them manage their pain and keep their joints healthy. You can also help them get hospice care if they're having trouble managing their pain or if their condition is getting worse. It can give them the support they need to live as comfortably as possible.
Osteoarthritis is a debilitating disease but one that is treated. You can care for someone who has it by following the tips above. Once you do these things, you'll be on your way to helping them live a more comfortable life.