At-Home Tips for Managing Arthritis Pain In Seniors

by | Aug 30, 2018


Arthritis is very common in adults – more than 50 million adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with a type of arthritis.[1] Arthritis becomes more frequent as a person ages and there are more than 100 different types.[1]  Because of its prevalence, it’s important to be familiar with arthritis and pain management.

Symptoms of Arthritis[1]

Common arthritis symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Decreased range of motion

Symptoms can be mild or severe and can come and go.  Some patients can have symptoms get worse over time. Arthritis can also cause permanent, visible joint changes such as knobby finger joints.  

Common Types of Arthritis[1]

As previously stated, there are more than 100 forms of arthritis.  The following are the most common types:

1.  Degenerative Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common arthritis type.  This occurs when cartilage “wears away,” causing bones to rub against each other.  Because of this, joints can become weak and the pain can become chronic. Risk factors have been identified as family history, age, previous injury, and excess weight.

2.  Inflammatory Arthritis

Typically, the immune system protects the body from diseases.  However, immune systems can sometimes mistakenly attack joints and cause damage.  Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are common types. Risk factors have been identified as genetic and environmental, such as smoking.  

3.  Infectious Arthritis

Infectious arthritis occurs when viruses, fungi, or bacteria enter the joint and causes inflammation.  Salmonella is a common organism that can cause infectious arthritis.

4.  Metabolic Arthritis

This form of arthritis occurs when high levels of uric acid builds up in joints and forms needle-like crystals.  This can cause extreme joint pain or gout attacks.

At-Home Tips for Managing Arthritis Pain[2] [3] [4]

There are plenty of ways to alleviate arthritis pain, both drug-related and non-drug related.  In this post however, we will discuss pain management tips without the use of medications. Always be sure to consult your client’s doctor before engaging in these activities.

  • Exercise
    • Range-of-motion exercises
      • Dancing
      • Yoga
      • Tai Chi
    • Water-based exercises
    • Strengthening, aerobic, and endurance exercises
      • These types of exercises can be affecting in helping arthritis pain, however, they can also be dangerous for senior.  Check with your client’s doctor.
  • Hot and cold treatment
    • Your client may find relief in applying heat or cold to the affected joints.  Be careful to not apply items that are too hot or too cold as seniors are sensitive to these temperature changes.  Apply hot/cold items 15 minutes at a time (or more or less depending on your client’s doctor’s advice).
    • Also try swimming in a heated pool or soaking in a warm bath.
    • Apply hear with a heating pad, a heating blanket, a warm pack, or hot water bottle.
    • You can also warm flannel sheets or clothing in the dryer for a couple of minutes.
    • If your client is particularly stiff in the morning, try using a heating pad before they get up.
    • Cold items help numb the affected area.  Apply cold with an ice pack wrapped in a towel
  • Braces, sleeves, canes, or crutches
    • Wearing these items on the joints can be helpful in reducing pain.  However, canes can add more weight on other joints such as the hip.

Always consult your client’s doctor and be sure to notify them if your client’s symptoms worsen or change.

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