Overview for Caregivers - Arthritis
“Arthritis” means inflamed joint and is a term used to describe a group of diseases and conditions that cause pain, stiffness and swelling in a person’s joints or other parts of their musculoskeletal (muscle and bone) system (1). Arthritis is a leading cause of disability in Canada and is most common in older adults (1).
There are several types of arthritis including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout (1). Most types of arthritis are characterized by pain, aching, stiffness and swelling, which weaken the structure and functioning of affected joints (1).This can make simple tasks a challenge and disrupt daily routines. Osteoarthritis is the most common type experienced by older adults and is usually present in the joints of the hands, knees, hips and spine (2).
Participation in physical activity is necessary for a healthy musculoskeletal system. Low-impact exercise such as walking, cycling and swimming help keep joints flexible and strengthen the muscles that support them (2). Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight will help protect joints by avoiding excess stress on them during daily tasks. The use of canes, grab bars and larger handles can help those living with arthritis manage their daily activities. As part of an arthritis management strategy, physicians might also recommend medication to reduce pain (1). Discuss your needs with your health care team.
(1) Government of Canada. (2011). Chapter 1: Life with arthritis in Canada: A personal and public health challenge – What is arthritis and how common is it? Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/arthritis/life-arthritis-canada-a-personal-public-health-challenge/chapter-one-what-is-arthritis-and-how-common-is-it.html
(2) Health Canada. (2008). Seniors and aging – Osteoarthritis. Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/alt_formats/pacrb-dgapcr/pdf/iyh-vsv/diseases-maladies/seniors-aines-ost-art-eng.pdf