Arthritis affects approximately 80% of people over the age of 55 in the United States. Injury, a weakened immune system, and/or hereditary factors can trigger the onset of arthritis. There are several of types of arthritis including Degenerative, Inflammatory, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, and various others that that share similar symptoms including inflammation, joint pain, and progressive deterioration of joint surfaces over time. The joints may lose normal contour, excessive amounts of fluid may build up inside the joint along with pieces of floating debris. Arthritis may affect the joints in the spine, which enable the body to bend and twist. Part of the problem may be the body’s response to arthritis, which is to manufacture extra bone to stop joint movement. The extra bone is called a bone spur or bony overgrowth.
Osteoarthritis is often called degenerative joint disease and is the most common type of arthritis in the over-50 crowd. As we get older, the rubbery cartilage that serves as a shock absorber to our joints becomes stiff, loses its elasticity, and becomes more susceptible to damage. As the cartilage wears away, tendons and ligaments stretch, causing pain. It can occur in almost any joint in the body – most commonly in the fingers, hips, knees, and spine.
Symptoms include joint aching and soreness, pain, and bony knots in the finger joints. Medications, painkillers, and alternative supplements (like glucosamine and chondroitin) can help relieve the pain. But lifestyle changes like weight loss may also be necessary to reduce stress on weight-bearing joints.
One out of three American adults suffer from some type of joint disease. Gaining one pound puts four times more stress on knee and hip joints. Although symptoms usually develop years later, osteoarthritis damage can begin as early as age 20, especially among athletes who overtrain or sustain injuries. By age 50 you’ve probably logged 75,000 miles or more on your knees.
Creaking knees, hips, and ankles aren’t necessarily normal aches and pains that come with age. Your pain might be arthritis. Luckily, medicine has a lot to offer — from exercise and alternative supplements to medications and joint replacement.
Creaky, achy joints. A twinge in the knee. A sharp shooting pain from the shoulder to the elbow. No big deal, right?
Wrong. All too often, we assume joint pain is a normal part of aging that we just have to learn to live with. Nothing could be further from the truth, say experts, pointing to a wealth of treatment options from exercise and alternative supplements to medications and joint replacement surgery.
It’s a serious problem, because pain can affect every aspect of your life. “Pain is not only the experience of hurting; it affects how you handle your life, your livelihood, your interactions with family and friends.”