1 in 6 Australians have arthritis. That’s approximately 4 million people.
Do your joints ache more than they used to? Have you noticed inflammation in your hands, feet or back? These are all symptoms of arthritis.
You can live well with arthritis. Exercise and healthy living is key to managing this common condition for seniors.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a name for a group of conditions affecting the joints. These conditions cause damage to the joints, usually resulting in pain and stiffness. There are over 100 forms of arthritis, the most common are:
- rheumatoid arthritis
Arthritis affects people in different ways but the most common symptoms are:
- stiffness or reduced movement of a joint
- swelling in a joint
- redness and warmth in a joint
- general tiredness or feeling unwell.
How to find out if you have arthritis?
Because arthritis can get worse if left untreated, you need to see your doctor as early as possible to get a proper diagnosis. This will help you understand your arthritis and develop a plan for managing it. Early diagnosis and treatment can limit the effects of arthritis on your life and help you stay active and independent.
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and examine your joints. Some types of arthritis can be hard to diagnose in the early stages and they might send you to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specialises in arthritis, for tests such as an x-ray or blood tests. Your GP can also recommend how to best manage living with arthritis, so you can continue to enjoy your life.
Is there a cure for arthritis?
Although there is no cure for most types of arthritis, there are many ways to take control and live well with your condition. Understanding your treatment options, taking an active role in making decisions about managing your arthritis and seeking the support you need from health professionals will put you on the path to living well with arthritis.
How can I live well with arthritis?
Having arthritis doesn’t mean you have to miss out on doing the things you love. There are many simple things you can do to live well with arthritis:
Take control by knowing your arthritis
Spend the time to understand what type of arthritis you have and learn the best ways to improve your condition. Many people with arthritis say that learning about their condition and what they can do about it gives them back a feeling of control over their lives and their health. Arthritis WA has a range of resources that may be helpful.
Keep your joints moving and your muscles strong by exercising. Exercise can help manage your condition as well as help limit pain, keep you mobile and boost your energy.
Not all forms of exercise are appropriate for every kind of arthritis. Before you start to exercise, it is important to ask your doctor or allied health professional to help you develop a program that will suit your type of arthritis, general health and lifestyle.
There are many things you can do to help you cope with pain:
- Applying cold and heat to inflamed joints: Ice helps to restrict blood vessels. This reduces fluid in the tissue and decreases swelling pain. Heat opens the blood vessels and increases circulation. This brings in nutrients and proteins that are essential to repairing the compromised tissue.
- Medications like aspirin or ibuprofen can help with minor pain and swelling. Talk to your doctor about what is suitable for you.
- Cortisone injections: Used to decrease inflammation and reduce swelling. Talk to your doctor about what is suitable for you.
Know when to get help
Most people with arthritis wish to stay in their own homes and remain as independent as possible, however stiff joints and muscles can be painful and affect mobility, making it difficult for someone to undertake their usual daily activities such as cooking cleaning or hanging out the washing. Southern Plus can provide home support and services responsive to your health needs and help take the burden off you or your family. We have a range of health and wellness services like physiotherapy, pain management, medication management and podiatry to support you to build a lifestyle plan to suit your health conditions and circumstances.
Speak to one of our friendly care advisors about how Southern Plus can support you or a loved one coping with arthritis on 1300 000 161.