Diagnosing and Managing Arthritis in Seniors – Part 1

January 21st, 2016 by John Wilson

There is a high number of individuals who show symptoms of arthritis in seniors. In fact, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), a report from 2012 found that 22.7 percent of older adults, or 52.5 million, were diagnosed with some form of arthritis. Generally speaking, arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. However, there are actually three main types of arthritis, and the causes, symptoms and treatment are somewhat different with each type. The following information will help you understand the symptoms and causes of each of the three types. Part 2 of this article will explain some of the treatment options that are available.

Arthritis in seniors is a common condition.

Arthritis in seniors is common.

Osteoarthritis (OA)

Osteoarthritis is a condition of degeneration. It begins with the deterioration of the cartilage, the smooth rubbery tissue that cushions the ends of the bones. As we age, the joints continue to degenerate, which contributes to this type ofarthritis in seniors. Inflammation is most common in the large weight-bearing joints of the body, such as knees and hips, lower back, neck and hands. People often become disabled when these joints are severely affected.

Causes of Osteoarthritis

In addition to the normal wear and tear of cartilage from years of activity, anyone who overworks their joints, especially athletes, can exacerbate the condition. Other factors that increase a person’s risk of developing osteoarthritis are injuries to the joints, genetics and obesity due to the excess weight placed on load-bearing joints.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

These are just some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis in seniors. A doctor will be able to diagnose this condition and provide treatment options.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disorder of the immune system that causes the body to attack itself. Symptoms usually appear first in the smaller joint,s such as in the hands and feet. However, the pain and inflammation can begin in any joint and usually affects both sides of the body. Inflammation can spread to other joints and other parts of the body.

Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis 

Rheumatoid arthritis causes the immune system to attack the synovium, which is the soft tissue that lines the membranes surrounding the joints. When the immune system attacks this lining, it can destroy the cartilage and bone over time.

Doctors don’t yet know what causes the immune system to attack, although genetics may make you more prone to infections that can trigger the disease. Episodes of increased symptoms are called flare-ups; symptoms can also go into remission for periods of time.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in seniors can vary from person to person and change from one day to the next. A physician can perform tests to provide an accurate diagnosis, along with treatment options to help manage the disease.

Seniors with gout can benefit from assisted living communities.

Assisted living communities can help seniors with gout.


Gout is a painful form of arthritis that most often occurs in the big toe, although the joints in the feet, ankles, knees, hands and wrists can also be affected. There is intense pain that usually flares up at night and continues for up to 12 hours. Staff members at assisted living communities in Oklahoma City are well informed about symptoms that are common to gout.

Causes of Gout

Gout occurs when the natural levels of uric acid in the body are too high. This causes urate crystals to form and accumulate in the joint, causing inflammation and intense pain. A gout flare-up can be caused by certain foods that are rich in purines, such as dried beans, peas and gravy, as well as alcoholic beverages. Being overweight or taking some kinds of blood pressure medications may also trigger a flare-up of gout in senior men and women.

Symptoms of Gout

Gout is treatable and preventable. A doctor can determine the best remedy for this condition and how to avoid a recurrence.

If you know an older adult who is struggling with an arthritic condition, senior assisted living in OKC may be the answer to improve their quality of life. Contact us at the Village at Oakwood to inquire about how our facilities and programs assist our residents.

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