Osteoarthritis is a Leading Cause of Disability in Seniors
Osteoarthritis is one of the leading causes of disability in seniors. In fact, the older one gets, the greater is the chance to get osteoarthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30 million Americans have osteoarthritis. To date, no cure has been found or a way to stop it in its destructive path.
Osteoarthritis is an incurable disease that causes destruction of cartilage that acts as a cushion between the joints. This breakdown in the cartilage, can lead to the complete destruction of the cartilage cushion in the joints with bone rubbing against bone, causing chronic pain, disability and a poor quality of life.
Aging is a risk factor, but research using MRI scans has shown that it often begins in people around middle age. Researchers from Hebrew Senior Life’s Institute for Aging Research, and Boston Medical Center discovered that a third of people aged 40-59 years had image-based evidence of moderate to severe degenerative disc disease in their backs and more than half had moderate to severe spinal osteoarthritis. Additionally, the researchers observed that progression of these conditions occurred 40-70% more frequently in women than men. The CDC also reports that women after the age of 50 have a higher risk for osteoarthritis than men. Genes have been discovered that can cause osteoarthritis and it definitely runs in families. The overuse of joints, or injuries and repetitive stress on a joint increases the risk for osteoarthritis. Also many people first get arthritis after they have experienced an injury. Overweight and obesity put more stress on the joints, especially on the hips and knees and losing weight may help to ease up the pain of osteoarthritis.
Treatment is geared mainly to stopping pain and inflammation and keeping the joints open and flexible. Otherwise the joints become calcified, will no longer move without pain and and will become more stiff.
Physical Exercise and Physical Therapy
Stretching exercises can help to maintaining the flexibility of the joints. Proper exercise also can help strengthen muscles that surround the bones and improve blood circulation. Also, physical therapy, especially swimming and water therapy, are considered to be among the best non-drug treatments.
Water therapy, which is also called aquatic therapy, is very relaxing and reduces weight put on the joints. A qualified aquatic therapist teaches various physical exercises to people in a pool, which is usually heated. In the water people find themselves able to do exercises more easily and without pain than what they experience when they do out-of-water exercises.
Applying deep heat can also give relief and help to clear up painful inflammation. Extra virgin olive oil or castor oil can also be massaged over the affected joints and applying flannel treated with castor oil, but not dripping, and a hot water bottle over this is one of the best non-drug treatments for inflammation .
Hot Springs and Sulfur Pools
Relief from pain and inflammation can be helped by immersing in hot thermal mineral springs and sulfur pools. However, seniors who suffer from blood pressure or cardio vascular problems should not immerse in hot sulfur pools without consulting a doctor. Initially the very hot water lowers blood pressure and this is dangerous for someone on blood pressure lowering drugs.
Bracing can be very effective in stopping pain and in slowing down the destructive process. Knee brace supports that have a silicon ring can often stop osteoarthritis from getting worse. It usually takes a week or up to a month for the knee braces to stop the pain, so that a person can begin to walk normally.
Aids to Help with Walking
A cane, crutch or a walker can also help a person with walking.
Acupuncture and Chiropractic Treatments
Acupuncture and chiropractic treatments may also relieve pain. See our blog post from April 3, 2018 about acupuncture and osteoarthritis.
A study published in 2013 by researchers at the University of East Anglia in the UK showed that a substance called sulforaphane (sulphoraphane) found in the super food broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables of the Brassica family like cabbage or cauliflower can slow down or prevent the destruction of joint cartilage caused by osteoarthritis in mice. More research is underway to find out how effective this can be with humans.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Extra virgin olive oil has been found to contain a substance called oleocanthol which stops pain and works like ibuprofen, but does not have dangerous side effects like ibuprofen. Research suggests consuming 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil every day. Olive oil can also be massaged into joints on a daily basis and this can give a lot of relief from pain.
Many people claim to find relief from over-the-counter herbs and supplements such as chondroitin, glucosamine sulfate, bosweilla and MSM, but there have been mixed results with research as to whether or not these can help.
Climbing up and down stairs is very bad for knee arthritis. Try to avoid daily use of stairs.
The most common drugs for treating the pain of osteoarthritis are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, Celebrex and more. NSAIDs have been associated with dangerous side effects in seniors, especially as they are taken over a long period of time for pain.
Surgery is usually offered as a last resort, but according to research not all knee replacement operations succeed in stopping chronic pain and many people find themselves still needing to take pain-killing drugs after the surgery. See our blog post from February 1, 2019 to see more about knee replacement surgery.
Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Galloway Township, New Jersey
The Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabiitation in Galloway Township, New Jersey, has a state-of-the art SMART Rehab Therapy Gym that is equipped with innovative therapeutic equipment. They also offer rehabilitation for post-hip and post-knee replacement surgery.
Hopefully, a cure will be found for osteoarthritis.