The word “arthritis” applies to over 100 types of the condition, but typically arthritis symptoms include pain and inflammation of joints in the body, and the bone rubbing that occurs as a result.
Arthritis affects people in different ways (largely depending on which joint is affected and the severity of the condition), but people with arthritis will typically suffer a reduction in mobility and dexterity that can impact their everyday life. As such, older people (who are the most commonly affected) can be particularly impacted by arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is thought to affect millions of people throughout the world. This type of arthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in a joint, caused by aging or repetitive movements.
Whilst there is no cure for osteoarthritis, we would advise techniques such as hot and cold compresses, and lifestyle changes such as a better diet and exercise. Achieving a healthy weight can also help to improve osteoarthritis symptoms. Your GP will be able to provide more information on treatments based on your personal circumstances.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of arthritis that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in joints, particularly in the wrists and hands. This form of arthritis is usually seen in the affected joint(s) on both sides of the body.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system is triggered and attacks your body’s healthy tissues by mistake. That’s what causes the swelling in joints.
There are several treatments that can help to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, including; medication, physical therapy and surgery. Again, your GP will be able to provide more information around the most appropriate treatment for you, based on the severity of your condition.
Like other types of arthritis, reactive arthritis causes swelling in joints, especially the knees, feet, toes, hips and ankles. However, reactive arthritis may only last a few months and usually develops due to an infection (especially STIs) or food poisoning.
Reactive arthritis can also cause symptoms in other body parts (including the genitals and the eyes) so treatment can range from ibuprofen to antibiotics. It’s vital to visit your GP if you suspect that you may have reactive arthritis. You may need to take a course of antibiotics to clear any infection before the condition starts to improve.
Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that can affect people who have the condition psoriasis. This type of arthritis is a long-term condition that can become worse over time and can result in joints becoming permanently damaged or deformed, requiring surgery to correct or minimise.
However, if diagnosed early, psoriatic arthritis can be controlled and the damage to joints can be minimised, or even avoided. If you (or a loved one) suffer from psoriasis and have started to notice joint swelling or stiffness, you should contact your GP as soon as possible.
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that is caused by high levels of uric acid within the blood. This high level of acid results in crystals forming around joints and causing severe pain. The joint at the base of the big toe is most common and is seen in 50% of cases.
Gout is most usually found among people who regularly eat meat or seafood, drink beer, or those who are overweight, affecting people of all ages. The treatment for gout typically involves medication and changes in lifestyle to minimise the risk of further incidences.
Symptoms of gout can present and reach maximum intensity in less than 12 hours, so it’s important to see your GP as soon as symptoms occur.
As you can see, there are many types of conditions that all exist underneath the umbrella term of “arthritis”, and each has different causes despite presenting very similar symptoms. It’s therefore vital to understand how each individual case should be treated to minimise pain and symptoms.
If arthritis is one of the factors contributing to your (or your loved one’s) consideration when moving into a care home, you can be confident that our team are familiar with arthritis and its many forms, and will be able to provide a level of care that will help you (or your loved one) to live in as much comfort as possible.