In the UK, around 10 million people will seek help for arthritis pain each year. A large proportion of these will be older people.
With arthritis, it is important to keep the joints moving and muscles strong, but this can be difficult for elderly people. Here are the key ways in which you can help your loved one ease their arthritis pain.
What is arthritis?
The two most common types of arthritis are:
- Inflammatory arthritis – inflammation within the joint (for no obvious reason)
- Degenerative/mechanical arthritis – damage to the cartilage in joints
Osteoarthritis falls under degenerative arthritis and is more common in older people. It affects the joints that get used regularly, usually the hips and knees.
Symptoms include early morning joint stiffness, tiredness, swollen joints, weight loss and even skin rashes. If you think your loved one may have arthritis, take them to their GP for an official diagnosis. They will be able to provide painkillers to ease the pain.
How to ease arthritis pain
Arthritis pain can change from day to day and week to week as it is a condition prone to 'flare ups'. However, most forms of arthritis are long-term conditions that will require attention as they get worse.
There is no cure for arthritis, but there are ways to alleviate the pain it causes. Here are the key ways you can help your loved one manage their condition.
Rest and exercise
Regular exercise will help your loved one keep their muscles and joints strong. This usually means they will have less pain in that joint.
Try taking your loved one for walks on a regular basis. But make sure there are places to stop if they need to. If a joint is inflamed, a short period of rest may reduce the swelling.
Swimming or hydrotherapy is a great form of exercise for those with arthritis as the water supports your loved one's weight and puts less pressure on their muscles and joints.
Encourage your loved one to put their joints through a full range of motion at least once a day. They can do this by circling their arms, ankles and wrists, then extending their knees and elbows. This will prevent the joints from stiffening up.
However, remember that rest is important too. It's important to exercise little and often, rather than cause more damage with an extensive workout.
If your loved one has arthritis and is overweight, this will cause more strain on their joints. Arthritis Research UK suggests that losing two stone can reduce the pain in the knee by 50%, if it is healthy to do so.
While healthy eating cannot cure arthritis, it can help with your loved one's general health and well-being.
Help your loved one with the tasks that are made difficult by having arthritis. The weekly shop, for example, or gardening or housework.
This will decrease the amount of stress caused by the condition and help them lead a more positive life.
How can the Good Care Group help?
The Good Care Group specialises in caring for older people, and have experience helping those with arthritis.
Our specially trained carers can assess the condition and help your loved one manage it. Whether that's by reminding them about pain killers, taking them for walks or just listening to them about their arthritis pain, they will support your loved one 24-7.