Senior Health and Wellness: What You Need to Know About Arthritis

March 12, 2024

If you’re like most people, you think of arthritis as having painful, stiff joints that are swollen and red, but arthritis shows up in different forms.

The most common types of arthritis for those over 65 are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

Let’s take a closer look at each and the symptoms that accompany them.

1.Osteoarthritis (OA)

This is the most common type of arthritis in seniors.

Cartilage is the tissue that acts as a pad between bones and joints. When the cartilage starts to deteriorate and wear away, bones rub against each other.

You’re most likely to experience osteoarthritis in your hands, neck, lower back, hips and knees.

2. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Though it has arthritis in the name, RA is actually an autoimmune disease.

With this disease, your body attacks the lining of a joint as if it was a foreign object.

The same way your finger becomes swollen and red due to a splinter, with RA, your joints become inflamed, swollen and stiff.

It can happen in many joints at the same time and the joints may become immovable.

RA can attack nearly any of the joints in your body, such as fingers, hips, knees and neck.

There is often a mirroring effect. For example, if you have RA in your right wrist, you’ll likely have it in your left wrist.

RA doesn’t just affect the joints, though. It can also take a toll on your heart, muscles, blood vessels, nervous system and your eyes.

3. Gout

This is one of the more painful types of arthritis.

It begins with uric acid crystals forming in connective tissues and joint spaces. These crystal deposits cause swelling, redness, heat, pain and stiffness.

Gout attacks can occur after you eat foods such as shellfish, peas and anchovies.

Certain conditions make gout more severe, including alcohol use, being overweight and using certain medications, especially those for blood pressure.

Gout is most common in the big toe, but it does affect other joints. Swelling can cause the skin to stretch painfully around the joint, making it red or purple and very tender.

Symptoms of arthritis

Any of these may be a sign you’ve developed arthritis:

  • Lasting joint pain
  • Swelling in the joints
  • Joint stiffness
  • Tenderness or pain when the joint is touched
  • Difficulty moving a joint normally
  • Redness and/or warmth in a joint

If you experience any of these issues for longer than two weeks, make an appointment with your doctor or a rheumatologist.

Treatment for arthritis

The various types of arthritis are each treated differently, but they have some options in common.

Symptoms can be managed with:

  • Rest
  • Exercise
  • Eating a well-balanced diet
  • Learning the right way to use and protect your joints
  • Acetaminophen, naproxen, ibuprofen

Best activities for controlling arthritis symptoms

A combination of the right medications, enough rest and appropriate exercise work together to keep you strong and healthy to keep your symptoms at bay.

Here are the best activities to try:

  • Range-of-motion exercises. Dancing and yoga relieve stiffness and encourage your joints to stay flexible.
  • Strength training. Weight training will help you build muscle strength, which will protect your joints.
  • Aerobic exercise. Biking and running are good for your heart, help you maintain a healthy weight, and improve your overall health and wellness. It could also decrease swelling in your joints.

The right health care matters

When you suffer from a chronic condition such as arthritis, it’s important to see your doctor regularly. That requires the right health care coverage.

Contact UROne Benefits™ here or at 800-722-7331 for help in finding the right Medicare plan for your needs and your wallet. 800-722-7331

This post was originally published in February 2019; updated March 2024.