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January 06, 2016
Living With Arthritis
Arthritis is a very common condition that causes pain and inflammation of the joints and bones. Approximately 915,000 people in Ireland suffer from arthritis, including 1,100 children, which makes it the single biggest cause of disability.
It is an extremely common condition, but it is not well understood. There are actually 100 different types of arthritis, the most common being Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia.
Common symptoms of arthritis are swelling, pain, stiffness & decreased mobility. Symptoms may come and go and can range from mild or moderate to severe.
There is no known cure for arthritis and it is not known what causes the condition, there are however many medical and non-medical treatments to help control arthritis, including medication, surgery & many types of therapy.
Most people that have been diagnosed with arthritis will, more than likely, have to take some form of medication to help deal with the condition. Medication for arthritis is usually placed into two categories;
-Drugs that help control the symptoms, these can help alleviate specific issues you may be having.
-Drugs that affect the disease directly, these can slow the progression of arthritis.
It has been seen that surgery can bring a great reduction to the pain of the condition, improved mobility and an overall better quality of life.
Obviously a lot has to be considered before going down this route. It can all depend on the type of arthritis you’re suffering from and how badly it affects you. There are minor surgeries, such as removing a cyst and there are major surgeries, including joint replacement.
Knee and hip replacements are very common for people suffering from arthritis.
There are many different types of therapy to consider when dealing with arthritis, these include:
Hydrotherapy: This gives arthritis sufferers the chance to exercise their joints and muscles while surrounded by warm water. It is known to be a very relaxing therapy and as the water can support your weight, you should have more mobility.
Physiotherapy: A physiotherapist can help you to understand what happens to your joints and muscles when you have arthritis. It is important to understand what is happening to your body so that you can better manage the condition.
Your physiotherapist may recommend different types of treatment & exercise to help alleviate the pain or swelling.
Keeping active and stretching can help keep muscles & joints loose and can improve flexibility, a massage can help relax the muscles and acupuncture can stimulate the brain to produce endorphin’s.
As arthritis can affect just one area, often ice packs can be used to reduce swelling and heat packs can be applied to relax tense muscles.
Occupational Therapy: This is the use of assessment and treatment to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living and work skills of people with a physical, mental, or cognitive disorder.
Occupational therapy can help you manage your arthritis in a number of ways;
- Advice on using your joints without straining them
- Splints to support your joints while working or resting
- Recommendations on equipment to help you with tasks at home and work
- Exercises to improve hand and wrist movements
- Advice on the planning of daily activities with rest to reduce tiredness
- Relaxation techniques
- Help and advice on coping physically and emotionally with the changes your condition may bring.
Most therapies are usually recommend to accompany and compliment any medication you may be taking. Any medications, surgeries or therapies should always be discussed with your GP before going ahead with them.
How to tell if you have arthritis?
Everyone, at some point in their lives will suffer from some form of joint or muscle pain and stiffness, but how can you tell if you have arthritis and not just a strain? The only true way to know is to pay a visit to your GP. If you are feeling pain or stiffness a lot of the time then don’t wait, an early diagnosis is always better.
When going to your GP, try to think about how exactly to describe the pain you are feeling and don’t be afraid to ask questions, the more you & your GP know about your condition, the easier it will be to manage.
If you are suffering from arthritis or any other debilitating condition and need help around the house, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01-8338000 to discuss home care options.