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The information below was taken from the National Institutes of Health website.


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis among older people, and it is one of the most frequent causes of physical disability among older adults.

The disease affects both men and women. Before age 45, osteoarthritis is more common in men than in women. After age 45, osteoarthritis is more common in women.

Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage, the tissue that cushions the ends of the bones within the joints, breaks down and wears away. In some cases, all the cartilage may wear away, leaving bones that rub up against each other.

Symptoms range from stiffness and mild pain that comes and goes to severe joint pain. Common signs include joint pain, swelling, and tenderness; stiffness after getting out of bed; and a crunching feeling or sound of bone rubbing on bone. Not everyone with osteoarthritis feels pain.

Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the hands, lower back, neck, and weight-bearing joints such as knees, hips, and feet. Osteoarthritis affects just joints, not internal organs.

Osteoarthritis of the hands seems to run in families. If your mother or grandmother has or had osteoarthritis in their hands, you're at greater-than-average risk of having it, too. Women are more likely than men to have osteoarthritis in the hands. For most women, it develops after menopause.

When osteoarthritis involves the hands, small, bony knobs may appear on the end joints (those closest to the nails) of the fingers. They are called Heberden's (HEBerr-denz) nodes. Similar knobs, called Bouchard's (boo-SHARDZ) nodes, can appear on the middle joints of the fingers. Fingers can become enlarged and gnarled, and they may ache or be stiff and numb. The base of the thumb joint also is commonly affected by osteoarthritis.

The knees are among the joints most commonly affected by osteoarthritis. Symptoms of knee osteoarthritis include stiffness, swelling, and pain, which make it hard to walk, climb, and get in and out of chairs and bathtubs. Osteoarthritis in the knees can lead to disability.

The hips are also common sites of osteoarthritis. As with knee osteoarthritis, symptoms of hip osteoarthritis include pain and stiffness of the joint itself. But sometimes pain is felt in the groin, inner thigh, buttocks, or even the knees. Osteoarthritis of the hip may limit moving and bending, making daily activities such as dressing and putting on shoes a challenge.

Osteoarthritis of the spine may show up as stiffness and pain in the neck or lower back. In some cases, arthritis-related changes in the spine can cause pressure on the nerves where they exit the spinal column, resulting in weakness, tingling, or numbness of the arms and legs. In severe cases, this can even affect bladder and bowel function.

Causes and Risk Factors of Osteoarthritis

Researchers suspect that osteoarthritis is caused by a combination of factors in the body and the environment. The chance of developing osteoarthritis increases with age. Putting too much stress on a joint that has been previously injured, improper alignment of joints, and excess weight all may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.

Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis

To make a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, most doctors use a combination of methods and tests, including a medical history, a physical examination, x-rays, and laboratory tests.

Treatment Goals: Manage Pain and Improve Function

Osteoarthritis treatment plans often include exercise, rest and joint care, pain relief, weight control, medicines, surgery, and complementary treatment approaches. Current treatments for osteoarthritis can relieve symptoms such as pain and disability, but there are no treatments that can cure the condition.

Although health care professionals can prescribe or recommend treatments to help you manage your arthritis, the real key to living well with the disease is you. Research shows that people with osteoarthritis who take part in their own care report less pain and make fewer doctor visits. They also enjoy a better quality of life.

Learn more about treatments for osteoarthritis from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

For More Information on Osteoarthritis

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
301-565-2966 (TTY)

The information below was taken from Scripps Health

Arthritis and Aging: What's the Connection?
May 3, 2022 | Senior Health

As we age, we tend to become more aware of common diseases associated with aging. One chronic disease that affects many older adults is arthritis, which causes joint pain, stiffness and swelling.

Arthritis is one of the body's natural reactions to disease or injury and is very common, especially as we get older. The good news is that it can be managed.

"If you suspect you may have arthritis, your primary care physician can do an exam and order tests and based on the findings can determine if you have the condition and refer you to a specialist if necessary," says Yawen Cheng, MD, an internal medicine physician at Scripps Coastal Medical Center Encinitas.

Who is at risk for arthritis?
Nearly 60 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By 2040, the number is expected to grow to nearly 80 million.

Almost half of adults 65 and older have some form of arthritis, according to the CDC.

Arthritis also more common in people with other chronic conditions, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

What are types of arthritis?
Arthritis is not a single disease. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Women are more likely to get it than men. Rheumatoid arthritis, gout and fibromyalgia are other common forms of arthritis. How is arthritis diagnosed?

Arthritis diagnosis often begins with a primary care physician performing a physical exam, and when necessary, running blood tests and imaging scans to get to the source of the problem.

"It's vital for patients to establish good relationships with their physicians so they have medical professionals to turn to when health concerns like arthritis arise," says Dr. Cheng.

Each type of arthritis can have different symptoms. Some do not have any symptoms outside the joint. Other forms cause fatigue, fever and a rash. Most types of arthritis show signs of joint inflammation, including swelling and stiffness.

When complications arise
Rheumatologists typically manage treatment for inflammatory arthritis, gout and other complicated cases. In some cases involving advanced arthritis, an orthopedic surgeon may perform joint surgery, including joint replacements.

"Education is an integral part of any treatment," says Howard Kaye, MD, a rheumatologist at Scripps Coastal Medical Center Vista. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, for example, have similar symptoms but are separate conditions with different causes and treatments.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that involves inflammation in the lining of the joints and/or other internal organs. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease marked by the breakdown of the joint's cartilage. "Most patients who have arthritis have osteoarthritis," says Dr. Kaye.

"Rheumatologists are experts in diagnosing all arthritis problems as well as the origins of pain that a patient might be experiencing," says Dr. Kaye. "Most cases turn out to be benign and can be managed by the primary care physician, but those that are complicated, such as rheumatoid arthritis, stay with the rheumatologist."

Four tips to help reduce risk of arthritis?

There are steps people can take to reduce their risk of developing the disease, including:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. "Excess weight puts an extra strain on joints, which can lead to arthritis," says Dr. Cheng.
  • Eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet. "Consuming foods rich in calcium and vitamin D will help to strengthen bones and muscles," says Dr. Cheng. Foods rich in vitamin D include seafood, such as cod and wild-caught salmon, fortified milk and eggs. Yogurt, sardines, beans and almonds are high in calcium and other nutrients.
  • Stay active, keep fit. Exercise helps develop strong muscles, which can protect and support joints.
  • Avoid injury. When you injure your joints while playing sports or in an accident, you can damage cartilage and cause it to wear out more quickly. Avoid injury by using the proper safety equipment when playing sports and learn correct exercise techniques.

When to see your physician
If you think you are at risk for arthritis, see your primary care physician. The damage from arthritis is usually progressive. However, your physician can suggest treatments or lifestyle changes that can slow the progress of arthritis. When necessary, your physician can refer you to a rheumatologist.

The information below comes from Home Instead website

While arthritis is common among older adults, it is not a normal part of aging. Arthritis impacts 54 million adults today, and that number is expected to grow to 78 million by 2040.

Any type of arthritis causes pain, stiffness and inflammation of the joints. These effects can make it difficult to move around or perform activities of daily living, such as showering and dressing. Severe arthritis even can contribute to falling.

Common Types of Arthritis

Over 100 different types of arthritis might affect an aging adult, with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) being the two most common ones. Arthritis can affect a person's quality of life and ability to live independently, so it pays to talk to your loved one's healthcare provider about possible treatments to improve your relative's health and wellbeing.

Osteoarthritis - results from wear-and-tear on the joints.
Rheumatoid Arthritis - an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks tissue in the joints, causing inflammation.

Listen and be Empathetic
Take their concerns seriously and communicate with them to their healthcare provider, especially if there hasn't been a diagnosis and symptoms are present.

Keep a Journal of Symptoms
Family caregivers can help track when and where pain occurs. They can also help to track medications taken, foods eaten and activity or movement. This information can help identify patterns and provide valuable information to healthcare professionals. The Arthritis Foundation has an app that helps track symptoms and patterns.

Communicate with Healthcare Providers
Often multiple healthcare providers care for older adults. The family caregiver can help keep communication consistent among all of them, which helps ensure everyone is on the same page and the person with arthritis is getting the medical care needed.

Encourage Movement and Regular Exercise
Seek out exercise or movement classes. The Arthritis Foundation has several great tools to help with this including the Walk with Ease Program and Your Exercise Solution. Even small amounts of movement throughout the day can add up and significantly improve symptoms: laps around the house (indoors and outdoors), chair exercises and stretching. Be sure to consult a healthcare provider before introducing exercise into the routine.

Assist with Medication and Treatment Management
Arthritis is often treatable with medication and other remedies. Family caregivers can help ensure treatment plans are being followed with some simple ideas like asking a pharmacist for an upside-down cap and using a pill popper device in foil packaging. There are also prepackaged medication systems that package all medications into easy-to-open daily packs.

Assist with a Nutritious Diet
For some people, the food they eat can impact their arthritis. Caregivers can prepare arthritis-friendly foods and encourage them to eat a well-balanced diet. Learn more about the benefits of a Companionship Diet to help combat isolation and loneliness.

Encourage Weight Loss if Needed
Excess weight can cause additional strain on weight-bearing joints such as hips and knees. Family caregivers can play an important role in empowering and encouraging a loved one to lose weight and keep it off - even a ten percent reduction can help reduce joint pressure. Remember to consult with a doctor about weight loss.

Hire Professional Help
Helping a loved one maintain as much independence as possible is the goal. For some, the assistance of a professional is beneficial. An Occupational Therapist can offer ideas to remain independent and keep as much functionality as possible. Professional in-home care can assist with tasks that are more challenging due to arthritis such as meal preparation, light housekeeping and medication management.

Remain Positive
Arthritis symptoms can sometimes cause an older adult to be discouraged by what they can no longer do. It is crucial for family members and caregivers to remain positive and focus on what their loved one can still do. There are many arthritis-friendly products that can make life easier.

Arthritis-friendly Solutions for Cooking

  • Foam handles and arthritis-friendly utensils.
  • Sit while chopping and preparing foods to reduce fatigue.
  • Use adaptive cutting boards to stabilize foods.
  • Utilize a crockpot for easy one pot meals.
  • Hire a home care company to assist with advanced meal preparation.
  • For boiling foods, utilize portion control strainers that can be left in the pot while cooking and that drain water when the strainer is lifted.

Arthritis-friendly Solutions for Dressing and Grooming

  • Install grab bars in shower, bathtub and around the toilet.
  • Toilet seat risers can help reduce the effort needed to sit down and stand up.
  • Automatic dispensers or pumps for grooming products help reduce the need to squeeze bottles.
  • Seek out adaptive grooming products with special grips and handles.
  • Button hooks can help with small buttons or Velcro can be used to replace buttons all together.
  • Sock aids and long-handled shoehorns can help with footwear.

Arthritis-friendly Solutions for Recreation

  • Card and game holders can help reduce fatigue while playing.