There are many types of arthritis, in fact more than 100 are known and documented, but the most common is a type of degenerative arthritis known as osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is also sometimes called wear and tear arthritis, as a result of the common factors that cause this disease.
Over time, daily activities, injuries, and certain high risk sports or activities cause the joints in the body to wear down, typically as the result of loss of cartilage. When this happens, the joints rub together and simple movements can become much more painful. The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis, typically affects joints that are weight bearing the most, including the knees and hips. However, any joint can be affected by the disease and it is common for the disease to be found in the hands and feet.
One of the most significant differences of osteoarthritis and the other common form of senior arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, is that osteoarthritis will commonly only affect one joint in a pair, where rheumatoid arthritis will usually affect all similar joints. So, for instance, in someone with osteoarthritis, it is common for the degenerative arthritis to only be found in one of their hands and not the other. In part, this is due to the fact that wear and tear are the biggest risk factors of this type of mobility related disorder.
The symptoms of this type of degenerative disease most commonly result in limited mobility and joint pain. Morning and night pain, which can last for about half of an hour, is quite common and it is often the worse in the evening. Activities can aggravate this type of joint pain.
It is also common for bone spurs to develop around the joint, as well as for small pieces of bone to break off and cause further irritation. Part of this is due to cartilage being lost in the joint, so the added layer of protection from it is removed.
Diagnosing any type of arthritis can often be difficult, as there is no specific test that is always going to be accurate. However, often by learning about the patients symptoms and preforming x-rays of affected joints, later stage osteoarthritis can be diagnosed. Blood work and other tests may also be preformed.
Treating osteoarthritis, as well as other types of arthritis, usually is focused on making life easier for the patient, as the effects of the disease are not reversible. So, pain management, reduction of swelling, and reducing inflammation is often a big part of treatment. However, it is also sometimes possible to keep the disease from getting worse, so this is also an important factor during treatment.
The patients diet and activity level are very important and, with many of those who are obese developing this type of arthritis, weight reduction can also significantly reduce joint pain. Studies have shown that safe exercises, which do not put a lot of stress on the joints, can have a major impact on health and joint discomfort, so things like swimming or walking can be powerful tools too.
This type of arthritis is the most common among seniors and can have a major impact on their health, as well as all of their daily activities.