World Arthritis Day Raises Awareness

With a sudden drop in temperature, Autumn has returned for many with full force and cooler temperatures can often be accompanied by some familiar aches and pains, especially for slightly older adults. 

October 12 marks World Arthritis Day; arthritis is considered a global epidemic and recent estimates show that as many as 91 million Americans have arthritis.  According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than one in two men and more than two in three women over 65 may have arthritis.  And nearly half of all adults over 65 report doctor-diagnosed arthritis which can cause sometimes severe joint pain and limited mobility as well as an increased risk for depression and anxiety.

Many older adults attribute stiff and sore joints to the natural effects of aging but it’s important to talk with your doctor about joint problems to better manage pain and help improve physical function.  While it may be painful at first to become more active while living with arthritis, studies have shown that regular physical activity can reduce pain and improve function by nearly 40 percent.   Being overweight increases your risk for developing arthritis; staying physically fit can help older adults maintain a healthy weight and prevent or slow the progression of arthritis leading to disability.

Managing chronic pain which can interfere with daily activities, cause sleep problems that lead to fatigue and emotional distress, begins with assessing pain to create a management plan. You can start by taking a pre-test here, on the Arthritis Foundation website, which will help patients learn about types of pain, how the body processes pain and how pain affects mood.  For example, social isolation can compound your pain but healthy relationships can strengthen your ability to cope with pain.

Whether or not older adults expect to have some pain as they age, they should not anticipate it as a natural part of getting older.  Talk with your doctor about the many approaches to managing pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.  A healthy diet, adequate sleep, physical and emotional wellness in addition to any medications your doctor may prescribe can all contribute to a good management plan. 

Learn more about the latest arthritis research by following this link to Science Daily.