Arthritis — What Causes It?

Arthritis affects almost everyone once they reach a certain age. If you’re lucky enough to be a senior who doesn’t suffer from it, we’re betting a lot of your family and friends do. There are many different types and forms, and it’s important to know what causes this debilitating condition. It’s also important to know a few things you can do to possibly prevent it and to ease a little of the discomfort if you do get it.

First Of All, What Exactly Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is the inflammation of joints, which results in pain and stiffness. It can appear in almost any joint in the body or even in many joints at the same time. Although anyone of any age is at risk, arthritis occurs more in females, people who are overweight, and seniors over the age of 65.

So, What Exactly Causes Arthritis?

As we explained above, inflammation is the driving force behind arthritis. There are several different types of arthritis, though, so their causes are different, too. Here are the three most common forms that arthritis takes:
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA) which occurs when the cartilage surrounding a joint breaks down too much. There’s not much you can do to stop cartilage from breaking down over time as it happens with general movement. Injury, infection, and family history of osteoarthritis can speed up this cartilage breakdown. This leads to the potential development of osteoarthritis earlier than it may have occurred with natural wear and tear. OA is most commonly seen in the hands, knees, hips, neck, and lower back.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is another very common form of arthritis, but it’s actually an autoimmune disease. When you have RA, it causes your body to attack the tissues and lining of your joints. RA attacks joints at random and often occurs on both sides of the body at the same time, not just where injury or pressure has occurred. Other than pain, RA causes other symptoms like extreme tiredness and flu-like symptoms, and if it’s not managed, it can lead to inflammation and issues with major organs. Unlike most other kinds of arthritis, RA occurs across all ages, not only seniors.
Gout is arthritis of very specific areas of the body with the big toe being the most common area to develop gout. It can occur in other joints as well, though. Gout flares up (and it flares up FAST, with little to no warning!) when uric acid crystals form in that joint, causing a lot of pain, swelling and redness. Certain foods and some medications, especially those for blood pressure, are major reasons for gout to flare up. If left untreated, gout can lead to kidney issues and other serious health problems.

What Can You Do?

Your first defence against arthritis is to get your weight under control to reduce pressure on your joints. Some gentle movement can help to keep the joints fluid without causing damage. If you find it starting to settle in, heat and/or cold packs can help with the pain, and there are lotions to reduce the pain and inflammation. If these methods don’t give you enough relief, your doctor can prescribe some stronger medications in either pill or lotion form.
Since arthritis is such a common affliction for seniors, most retirement housing is set up to accommodate people who suffer from this painful condition. At Trillium Communities, we offer lots of support as well as programs to keep seniors suffering from any ailments as healthy and comfortable as possible. Contact us today for more information or a no-obligation tour of one of our many boutique housing communities.