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This article was contributed by Naomi Cook

If you have arthritis, you may have considered light exercise. This may sometimes seem impractical if you are experiencing joint pain or stiffness. In fact, a 2020 Arthritis Foundation survey showed that 71% of individuals with arthritis experienced fatigue during the week. There are certain exercises for older adults with arthritis that won't prove too taxing, however.

Arthritis can be a painful and sometimes debilitating condition. More information can be found in this useful guide. A non-invasive imaging test of the knee can help diagnose and monitor arthritis if you believe you may have the disorder.

Best Exercises for Older Adults with Arthritis

Exercises for older adults with arthritis can help to alleviate some symptoms. They also support bone and muscle strength. Here are some gentle arthritis exercises that seniors can do to reduce arthritis pain.

Arthritis in the Hands and Wrists

The following exercises can help relieve arthritis in the hands and wrists.

Wrist Bends

Some older adults with arthritis experience their wrists getting 'stuck' in a position. Sometimes they may struggle to bend their wrists. This exercise can help to increase mobility.

  1. Place your elbow on a table top with the hand pointing towards the ceiling.
  2. Use your other hand to slowly push back the open palm. Go as far as you can but avoid pushing so far that you experience pain.
  3. Hold the hand position for five seconds, then release.
  4. Push the hand forward and hold for five seconds, then release.

Repeat these steps on the other hand.

Fist Close

People may struggle to form a fist for various reasons. Arthritis in the hand is one of them. Finger flexibility is essential if you have arthritis. This exercise may provide some relief.

  1. Make your hand into a fist. Do it slowly if the action is challenging.
  2. Hold your hand in a fist for five seconds, or as long as possible.
  3. Release your hand and repeat this exercise ten times.

Arthritis in the Ankles of Feet

Performing these exercises for older people with arthritis can help improve mobility and balance.

Ankle Circles

This exercise moves the ankle through a full range of motion. The goal is to stretch ankle joints and relieve stress and tension.

  1. Hold onto the side of a chair for extra support and balance.
  2. Stand up and lift one foot off the floor.
  3. Point your toe and only move your ankle to make a circle.
  4. Make five circles, then switch directions.
  5. Switch to the other ankle and repeat these steps.

Towel Pickup

This is a low effort exercise that can build up strength in the foot and ankle.

  1. Sit down and place a towel on the floor in front of you.
  2. Keep your heels on the floor.
  3. Crunch the towel between your toes to pick it up.
  4. Repeat these steps 10 to 20 times.
  5. As the exercise gets easier, place a small weight in the towel. This could be something as small as a can of beans.

Arthritis in the Hips or Knees

Arthritis in the knee can occur in one or both knees and may worsen with age. These exercises for older adults with arthritis can help to alleviate symptoms.

Step-Ups

This exercise may help relieve arthritis symptoms. You only need a step. If you do not have stairs, a sturdy block may be a suitable substitute.

  1. Bend your knee to help relieve pain.
  2. Hold on to a staircase bannister for balance. Step onto the bottom step one foot at a time.
  3. Move backwards off the bottom step, then repeat the exercise for thirty seconds.

If you still have energy, repeat for another thirty seconds.

Arthritis in Multiple Body Areas

As arthritis progresses, it can affect joints throughout the body. When this occurs, full body exercises for older adults with arthritis can help to relieve pain.

Swimming

A brisk swim, or a water aerobics class, can provide multiple benefits. These include:

  • Boosting joint flexibility
  • Improving blood circulation
  • Reducing muscle pain and stiffness
  • Preserving and building strength and cardiovascular fitness
  • Low-impact exercise decreases the impact on joints

You should consider contacting your local pool to learn whether they have services for older adults. For example, they may provide assistance walking into the pool. Many swimming pools also have time slots intended for disabled people or quiet swims. These can make your swimming experience more enjoyable.

Yoga or Tai-Chi

Engaging in activities such as yoga and tai-chi may help older adults relieve arthritis symptoms throughout the body.

Yoga focuses on gentle stretches that relive pressure on joints and strengthen muscles. Tai-chi accomplishes a similar result through gentle movements, deep breaths, and meditation techniques.

You can attend classes both online and in person.

Arthritis, Exercise, and Health After 65

The basic exercises for older adults with arthritis listed above may help in various ways. They can aid in reducing pain, improving range of motion, and sustaining normal joint function.

In addition, these exercises can be easy to do, increase relaxation, and help you sleep better.

Many older adults are concerned that exercise will aggravate their condition. The key is to do low-impact exercises every day to help increase joint strength and flexibility.

Before you start new exercises, you should consult your GP. Furthermore, you should avoid working out when alone. If you cannot arrange for supervision at home, consider finding local classes.

Stay Safe at Home

Arthritis can result in reduced balance and mobility. This may increase the likelihood of falls around the home. If this is a risk for you, you may benefit from a personal alarm from Lifeline24.

Personal alarms provide extra peace of mind, offering assistance at the press of a button. When your alarm is activated, it sends an alert to our 24/7 Response Team. Using the loudspeaker in your alarm base unit, they will speak with you to assess the situation. This allows them to arrange the correct help. In most cases, this will involve contacting your emergency contacts. These could be a neighbour, a friend, or a family member. In appropriate circumstances they will inform the emergency services.

Do not worry if you experience a fall or other emergency whilst away from your alarm unit. If there is no response, our team will assume it is an emergency and call for the emergency services.

You can find out more about the Lifeline alarm service by reading our quick guide. We believe our alarms can promote independence at home. Don't just take our word for it; read some of our customer reviews. Finally, you can find out more by getting in contact with our helpful customer service team. Call us on 0800 999 0400 or fill in our contact form and we will get back to you.

Arthritis is one of the 20 most common medical conditions affecting older people.  Currently, arthritis affects more than 10 million people in the United Kingdom. Despite common misconceptions, arthritis can affect people of all ages - including children.

Today's blog will take a closer look at the different types of arthritis, their symptoms, common treatments, and how arthritis can affect your everyday life.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a term that actually refers to hundreds of different conditions that affect the joints, causing painful inflammation. When we think of arthritis, most of us think of elderly people, but the condition can also affect younger adults and children. In fact, there are currently around 15,000 children living with arthritis in the UK. The two most common types of arthritis in adults are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the UK, affecting nearly nine million people. It's most common in people older than 40 and slightly more common in women than men. Osteoarthritis usually affects the hands, knees, hips, and spine.

It begins when the protective cartilage in our joints starts to wear down, making movement more difficult and painful. Once the cartilage thins out, the tendons and ligaments in the joint have to work harder, which often causes swelling.  In severe cases, this wearing away of the cartilage can lead to bone rubbing on bone, which may alter the shape of the joint itself.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis on the other hand is slightly less common, affecting more than 400,000 people in the UK. Women are three times more likely than men to be affected by this form of arthritis, according to the NHS. Symptoms usually begin between the ages of 40 and 50.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system attacks the lining of the joints. As a result, the joints become swollen and painful. The condition usually affects the joints in the hands, feet, and wrists.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Since there are so many different types of arthritis, symptoms can vary from person to person. This means it is especially important to visit your doctor in order to get the right diagnosis.

However, the main types of arthritis do have some symptoms in common. The NHS recommends that you see your GP if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Joint pain, tenderness, and stiffness.
  • Restricted movement of joints.
  • Inflammation in and around your joints.
  • Warm, red skin over the affected joints.
  • Weakness and muscle wasting.

Diagnosing Arthritis

Your doctor will usually send you for X-Rays or a blood test. The results of these tests will help determine which condition you have, if any. Sometimes, doctors also use the following tests to help confirm a diagnosis:

  • MRI Scan - To detect early problems and show inflammation.
  • CT Scan - Provides doctors with cross-sections of the body, giving detailed images of the skeleton and other tissues.
  • Ultrasound Scan - To detect inflammation around the joints.
  • Synovial Fluid Analysis - Looks at the lubricating fluid from your joints, which can help detect any inflammation, infection, or gout.
  • Biopsy - A small amount of tissue is removed and analysed.
  • Urine Test - This helps with diagnosis or to monitor drug treatments.

Read more: Symptoms of Arthritis.

Causes of Arthritis

The causes of arthritis are hard to pinpoint. Genetics can be a factor in some cases; evidence suggests that rheumatoid arthritis can run in families. Lifestyle also plays a part. Obesity, for example, increases the risk of osteoarthritis in the knees, hips, and spine. Similarly, losing excess weight can slow the progress of osteoarthritis once it has set in.

Strenuous or repetitive physical work, smoking, and eating lots of red meat are also risk factors.

However, in truth, arthritis can strike suddenly without any warning or obvious trigger.

Read more: Causes of Arthritis. 

Is There a Cure for Arthritis?

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for arthritis.  However, there are lots of treatments and exercise routines that can slow the progress of the condition. Once you've been diagnosed, your doctor will probably recommend a variety of treatments including medication, physiotherapy, and exercise.

Treatment for Arthritis

The kind of treatment you receive will depend on which form of arthritis you have. Here are the main treatments for the most common forms of the condition.

Treatment for Osteoarthritis

Doctors often prescribe painkillers and corticosteroids to those with osteoarthritis, but surgery is available for more severe cases. Surgical treatments include joint replacements, joint fusion, and osteotomy. This process sees the bone cut and re-aligned.

There are also lots of supportive treatments available, which can help to reduce pain. One example is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), which uses a special machine to send electrical impulses through sticky patches attached to the skin. This process numbs the nerve endings in the spinal cord, which are responsible for controlling pain.

Other treatments include:

  • Hot and Cold Packs - Applying these packs to your joints can relieve the pain.  This is sometimes known as thermotherapy or cryotherapy.
  • Manual Therapy - This is provided by a physiotherapist and involves stretching to keep the joints supple.
  • Assistive Devices - Canes, insoles, and walkers can protect the joints and aid you in daily tasks.

Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Treatments focus on slowing down the condition's progress and minimising any swelling of the joints. As well as medication, doctors also recommend physiotherapy and regular exercise.

Physiotherapy can help to improve your fitness and muscle strength, as well as making your joints more flexible. An occupational therapist can help you protect your joints whilst at home and at work.

Furthermore, there are lots of exercises that you can do by yourself in order to ease pain in your knees, back, neck, shoulders, and feet. Guides for these routines can be found on the Versus Arthritis website (formerly Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Care).

Learn more: Treatments for Arthritis.

Living with Arthritis

For people living with arthritis, everyday tasks like writing or making a cup of tea can become challenging. In extreme cases, any form of movement can be difficult. If you have arthritis in your knees, then it may become difficult for you to walk or get up out of your chair. If your hands are affected, you may struggle to prepare a meal and eat it with a knife and fork.

Fortunately, you can manage your symptoms with careful thought and slight adaptations. One of the most important things is to keep your joints moving and your muscles strong. However, you also need to balance this out with rest, especially if your joints are inflamed.

Keep Moving

You should try to put your joints through a full range of motion at least once a day to combat stiffness. This requires physical activity, which is also a great way to stay fit and healthy. Regular exercise also reduces your risk of many serious medical conditions. However, some high-impact exercises can cause flare-ups in arthritis symptoms. Try swimming, walking, or gentle cycling, all of which put less strain on the joints.

Notice how much your joints can handle and learn when you need to rest. Be careful to minimise stress on your joints while carrying out everyday tasks. You should always spread the weight of an object that you are carrying, for example.

Furthermore, the NHS has some tips for arthritis sufferers to protect themselves at home:

  1. Keep important items in easy to reach places.
  2. Use a handrail to help you get up and down the stairs.
  3. Use long-handled tools to picks things up or to clean.

Diet and Nutrition

It is also very important to stick to a healthy diet if you have arthritis. Eating healthy foods will give your body the nutrients it needs and help you to maintain a healthy weight. Your diet needs to include the following:

  • Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, and meat - for protein.
  • Milk and dairy foods (or dairy alternatives like soy milk) - for protein and calcium
  • Rice, pasta, bread, and potatoes - choose wholemeal varieties for more fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Fruit and vegetables - aim for 5 portions a day to get enough vitamins, minerals, and fibre.

Managing Weight

Eating healthily and exercising can help you maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, losing excess weight can help you to manage arthritis symptoms. Besides your weight, the other most important thing to consider is whether your diet gives you all the vitamins and minerals you need. Calcium, vitamin D, and iron are especially important.

Read more: Living With Arthritis.

Stay Safe at Home

Our personal alarm service is ideal for people with conditions like arthritis. If you have a fall at home, simply press the red button on your pendant and our 24-hour Response Team will assist you. A personal alarm can be a great way to find peace of mind, both for you and for your loved ones.

For more information about our alarms, please speak to our friendly advisers on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, fill in our Contact Us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

For further information about other common medical conditions, please see our in-depth guide. 

VAT Exemption

If you have arthritis, you are eligible for VAT Exemption on your new personal alarm from Lifeline24. This means you will not pay any VAT at all on your alarm system.

To find out more about the VAT exemption criteria, read our guide here.

 

 

Editor's Note: This post was updated on 21st March 2022 to reflect current information.

Living with arthritis is no easy task. Arthritis is a very common medical condition among older people. It causes pain and stiffness in the affected joints, which can limit your mobility.

In the UK, around 10 million people suffer from a form of Arthritis. While there is currently no cure for arthritis, there are lots of ways to manage your condition and make your everyday life as easy and comfortable as possible.

This article contains some helpful tips for those living with arthritis. For more information on arthritis in general, please take a look at our useful guide. We've also published articles on the causes of arthritis and the treatments currently available.

Living With Arthritis at Work

Having a long-term medical condition like arthritis can definitely cause some worries around work and financial security. However, lots of people with arthritis are able to manage their symptoms and continue working with little disruption.

It's important to communicate with your employer. By law, all employers must provide reasonable adjustments for workers with conditions like arthritis. This could include providing special equipment to help you do your job or changing your working hours. There are also government schemes such as Access to Work which are specifically designed to help those suffering from a life-altering health condition.

Versus Arthritis rightly points out that:

"The 2010 Equality Act (Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland) makes it unlawful for employers to treat anyone with arthritis or a related condition less favourably than anyone who doesn't have that condition"

If full-time work is no longer an option for you, then there are alternatives that can still give you peace of mind for financial security:

  • Flexible Work - There are some employers that will allow individual staff to be flexible with their start/home time and may accept working from home.
  • Part-Time Work - This would allow you to cut down to only working a few days a week, giving you a longer break to rest and manage your arthritis without having to work every day.
  • Job-Sharing - This is where two employees share the responsibilities, which will take some of the work-load off while still working.
  • Self-Employment - Working for yourself allows for much greater flexibility in how long you work, when you work and where you work.

Living with arthritis at work can be difficult. If your arthritis means you are no longer able to work, there is financial help available in the form of Personal Independence Payment and Universal Credit.

Healthy Eating 

Eating well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for everybody. However, if you have arthritis, eating a healthy diet is especially important.

A healthy diet will help you maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess weight can place extra strain on your joints. For people with arthritis, this can worsen your symptoms, causing additional pain. On the other hand, if you are underweight, a healthy diet will strengthen your body and help you get through a flare-up.

Best Foods for Arthritis

Certain foods are particularly good for people with arthritis. Here are our top 10:

  1. Fish - Certain types of fish are jam-packed with Omega-3 which helps fight inflammation. Research shows that eating just 150 grams of fish a week can be a great source of vital fatty acids. Examples include salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring.
  2. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - Extra-virgin olive oil contains healthy fats which have similar properties to anti-inflammatory medication. Use extra-virgin olive oil on salads and in cooking. It will add fantastic flavour as well as health benefits.
  3. Dairy - Milk, yoghurt, cheese, and other low-fat dairy products are rich in calcium and vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D work hand in hand to increase bone strength. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and it can also boost your immune system.
  4. Broccoli - Broccoli is rich in vitamins C and K which can slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Broccoli is also rich in calcium which strengthens the bones.
  5. Green Tea - Full of antioxidants which may reduce inflammation and slow cartilage destruction.
  6. Grains - Excellent sources of whole grains are oatmeal, brown pasta, brown rice, and whole-grain bread.
  7. Beans - Beans are an excellent source of protein, which supports cellular growth and repair. Kidney beans and pinto beans are also rich in folic acid, magnesium, zinc, and potassium, which keep your immune system strong.
  8. Garlic - Studies show that the compound Diallyl Disulphine, which is found in garlic, may limit cartilage-damaging enzymes in human cells.
  9. Nuts - Nuts are great for the heart and beneficial for weight loss. Walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, and almonds are just a few examples that can fill the gap between meals.
  10. Turmeric - Research indicates that turmeric can fight inflammation. Turmeric contains a compound called Curcumin which is beneficial in the management of arthritis.

Exercise Routines

Exercise boosts energy, strengthens muscles, and maintains mobility. With arthritis, exercise can also help to limit pain. The NHS recommends that adults should exercise for at least 150 minutes each week.

We don't recommend trying to do this all in one go, especially if you are living with arthritis. Break it up into small blocks of 5-10 minutes to begin with. Make time for exercise in your daily routine and be as consistent as you can.

Arthritis is one of the most common reasons people stop participating in exercise, which leads to a variety of health risks including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, as long as you do the right type and level of exercise for your condition, your arthritis won't get any worse.

There are plenty of exercises that you can do to target specific areas in order to manage your pain. You don't always need equipment to take part. If you're unsure, you can visit your doctor or a physiotherapist, who will be able to give you specialist exercise advice.

 

Living with Arthritis at Home

Carrying out tasks at home can become difficult if you are living with arthritis. You might need to make some practical changes to your house. Here are some ways to make life as easy as possible in each room of the house:

Kitchen

  • Use electronic equipment such as tin openers.
  • Use electronic jug kettles for improved grip.
  • Install door handles which are easy to grip and turn.
  • Store items you use often within easy reach on the work surface or at the front of cupboards at a convenient height.
  • Have shelves that slide or rotate out when you open the door.

Bedroom

  • Use shaped or memory foam pillows and don't prop them up too high.
  • A lightweight mattress will make it easier to make the bed.
  • Replace your mattress if it's more than 10 years old, is saggy or lumpy, or if you can feel the springs.

Bathroom

  • Use a non-slip bath mat.
  • Use grab rails.
  • Install a raised toilet seat.

Stay Safe at Home with a Lifeline Alarm

A Lifeline Alarm can be very helpful for people living with arthritis. It allows you to call for assistance quickly and easily if you are experiencing a flare-up or you suffer a fall.

For more information about our life-saving personal alarm service, please get in touch with our friendly team on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, fill in this quick contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

For more information about arthritis, please take a look at our useful guide. 

VAT Exemption

If you have arthritis, you qualify for VAT Exemption when you order a personal alarm system from Lifeline24. This means you will not need to pay VAT on your Lifeline alarm, giving you a considerable saving.

There are lots of conditions which make you eligible for VAT Exemption. Click here to find out more.

There is currently no cure for arthritis – which causes inflammation and stiffness of the joints. However, it is possible to ease the symptoms of this painful and often debilitating condition. Today's article will explain the common treatments for arthritis.

The most prevalent form of arthritis among older people is osteoarthritis (OA), typically the result of wear and tear on our joints. Osteoarthritis is caused by damage to cartilage – the connective tissue between the bones of your joints. As the cartilage deteriorates, these bones can start to can rub together. Injuries like a fracture can also lead to osteoarthritis.

Another common form of the condition is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which usually develops from the age of 40 or 50 when your immune system targets specific joints, causing pain and swelling and possibly the breakdown of cartilage and bone.

Many common treatments for arthritis aim to keep muscles strong and keep the joints moving. Versus Arthritis – formed in 2018 with the merger of Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Care ­– points out: “Generally, the stronger the muscles that support a joint, the less pain you’ll have.”

Common treatments for arthritis include:

  • Medication.
  • Lifestyle changes.
  • Natural remedies.
  • Supportive therapy.
  • Alternative medicine.

In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace damaged joints.

Medications to Ease Arthritis

If over-the-counter medications like paracetamol fail to control pain from arthritis, your doctor may prescribe a stronger analgesic such as an NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) to reduce inflammation and swelling. Opioids like codeine or tramadol may also be appropriate in cases of severe pain.

Steroid injections directly into the affected area provide an extra option when other treatments have failed. Steroid medication contains a synthetic version of the inflammation-reducing hormone cortisol.

A newer type of treatment to combat arthritis is provided by platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, which use healing platelets taken from the patient’s own blood.

Lifestyle Changes

After an arthritis diagnosis, you might need to make some important lifestyle changes. Habits such as regular exercise can play a big part in combating the condition. You might think that putting painful, stiff joints through their paces will make them worse, but regular, low-impact exercise such as swimming can help relieve symptoms of arthritis by:

  • Keeping you active.
  • Building up muscle.
  • Strengthening joints.
  • Improving posture.
  • Relieving stress.
  • Helping you to lose weight.

Health professionals recommend that arthritis patients put their joints through a full range of motion at least once a day to help ease stiffness. However, you should alternate exercise with rest.

Carrying excess weight can aggravate the symptoms of arthritis. It puts extra strain on the joints, particularly the knees, feet, and hips. Alongside getting enough exercise, a healthy diet is key to maintaining a healthy weight. This can:

  • Improve your mobility.
  • Reduce pain.
  • Avoid further damage to joints.

Healthy Diet

Versus Arthritis recommends a balanced, low-fat diet with plenty of fibre, fruit and vegetables, and cutting down on meat. In addition, the Healthline information platform has compiled a comprehensive list of evidence-based tips for weight loss.

Studies suggest that some foods are especially beneficial if you have osteoarthritis. These include:

  • Citrus fruits.
  • Garlic.
  • Broccoli.
  • Tuna, salmon, and mackerel.
  • Low-fat dairy products.
  • Nuts.

Your GP can help you draw up an exercise programme and advise you on how to lose weight safely.

Natural Home Therapies

Many people reinforce their medical treatment for arthritis with home remedies and natural therapies. You should do thorough research before starting any of these treatments for arthritis. These include:

  • Hot and cold compresses. Making a compress can be as simple as using a warm or cold towel.
  • Epsom salts. Magnesium in Epsom salts can reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Capsaicin cream applied to painful joints three times a day.
  • Green tea, which contains polyphenol compounds that may help lessen inflammation. Be aware, though, that health professionals advise that green tea should be taken in moderation.
  • Turmeric, which contains curcumin, part of the ginger family that can reduce inflammation, pain, and stiffness.

Supportive Treatments

Supportive therapy to ease pain from arthritis includes:

  • TENSTranscutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation – Which controls pain by transmitting electrical impulses to numb nerve endings in the spinal cord.
  • Physiotherapy – Stretching techniques to help keep your joints flexible.

Complementary Alternative Treatments

Complementary alternative medicines (CAMs) and treatments can be used in conjunction with mainstream arthritis therapy. These include:

  • Chiropractic.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Meditation.

Combined Treatments

Treatments for arthritis can combine conventional therapy with alternative medicine and treatments, lifestyle changes, home remedies, and supportive therapy.

While lifestyle changes and natural therapies may help you to manage the condition without the potential side effects associated with some medications, bear in mind that they aren’t a substitute for medical treatment – although they may offer added relief. Discuss home remedies and lifestyle changes with your doctor before trying them.

Coping with Arthritis

Painful conditions such as arthritis can have a significant impact on your quality of life, making everyday tasks a challenge. Nevertheless, the many treatments available can go a long way towards restoring the balance of your life and helping to keep you active.

Common treatments for arthritis – medication, lifestyle changes, natural remedies, supportive therapy, and complementary alternative medicine – can all play a major role in helping you to get your life back on track.

You can learn more about arthritis in our in-depth guide.

Personal Alarm Information

The personal alarm system comes highly recommended for those who suffer from medical conditions such as arthritis. If you have pain in your knee and suffer from a fall, you simply press a little help button and our Response Team will answer straight away.

For more information on our personal alarm service, please speak to one of our friendly advisers on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our contact us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

You can also order your Lifeline alarm online today. All our alarms are sent out with free next-working-day delivery.

Arthritis is a very common medical condition among older people, affecting around 10 million people in the UK today. There are several different types of arthritis, the most common of which are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Almost nine million people suffer from osteoarthritis, making it by far the most common form of the condition. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, affects around 400,000 people in the UK. Today's article is a guide to the common symptoms of arthritis, focusing specifically on osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. It's important to know the signs so that you can get the right treatment as quickly as possible.

To learn more about arthritis in general, please see our in-depth guide to the condition.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

As previously mentioned, osteoarthritis affects almost nine million people in the UK - making it the most common type of the condition. It's most common in adults who are in their mid-40s or older, with women more likely to be affected. Those with a family history of the condition are also at a higher risk.

Osteoarthritis can sometimes occur as a result of an injury. It also has associations with other joint problems like gout and rheumatoid arthritis. Initially, osteoarthritis affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint, causing movement to become more difficult than usual.

This difficulty leads to the main symptoms of the condition: pain and stiffness in the joints. The symptoms may come and go in episodes, depending on factors like your activity levels. However, in severe cases, the joint pain and stiffness can be continuous.

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, but the most common areas are your knees, hips, and smaller joints in your hand:

  • Knees - Both your knees will commonly be affected over time. This may not be the case if it occurs due to an injury or another medical condition affecting only one knee.
  • Hips - The pain and stiffness will prevent you from moving your hips joints easily. You'll also usually have pain in the groin or outside the hip.
  • Hand - The three main areas affected are the base of your thumb, the joints closest to your fingertips, and the middle joints of your finger. Alongside the pain and stiffness, your fingers may become swollen.

According to the NHS, you'll usually only experience symptoms in one joint or a few joints at any one time. Other symptoms to look out for include:

  • Your joints appearing slightly larger or more "knobbly" than usual.
  • A crackling or grating sound in your joints.
  • Limited range of movement.
  • Weakness and muscle wasting.
  • Joint tenderness.

Of course, if you're suffering from any of the above you should visit your doctor as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than 400,000 people in the UK. Symptoms usually develop between the ages of 40 and 50. Like osteoarthritis, this condition is more common in women. In fact, women are three times more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis.

This form of arthritis is actually an autoimmune condition, in which the body's immune system attacks healthy joint tissue. This is what leads to the most common symptoms: joint pain, stiffness and swelling. The symptoms of arthritis usually develop gradually over several weeks. However, in some severe cases, they can appear in a matter of days.

Each case of rheumatoid arthritis is different, with symptoms coming and going. It's common for those affected to suffer from flare-ups; this is when your condition deteriorates rapidly and your symptoms become more severe for a period of time.

Initially, rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects the small joints in the hands and feet. Most people will find that the condition affects their joints symmetrically (e.g. both hands or both feet). However, this isn't always the case. As mentioned above, the main symptoms are:

  • Joint Pain - a throbbing and/or aching pain, which is often worse in the mornings and after long periods of inactivity.
  • Joint Stiffness - joints may feel stiff and this will limit movement. Again, stiffness is worse in the mornings or after a period of inactivity.
  • Swelling - The lining of the affected joints will become inflamed, causing them to swell and become hot and tender to touch. In some cases, firm swellings called rheumatoid nodules can also develop under the skin around affected joints.

As with osteoarthritis, there are also several other symptoms to look out for. Other symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Sweating.
  • Weight loss.
  • A loss of appetite.
  • A fever.
  • Tiredness.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Dry eyes caused by the inflammation.
  • Chest pain if your heart or lungs are affected.

If you notice any of the symptoms above, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Even if you aren't sure, it's always better to get new symptoms checked out.

Learn More About Arthritis

Now you've read our guide to the symptoms of arthritis, you might want to learn more about the condition in general. Why not take a look at the in-depth guide to arthritis on our blog? It's full of useful information about the potential causes of arthritis and the treatments available. You'll also find some useful tips on how to cope with the condition on a daily basis.

In addition, we have a comprehensive guide to the 20 most common medical conditions which affect older people. This is well worth a read for anybody looking to learn more about staying healthy.

The Personal Alarm

For people with arthritis, mobility can be difficult enough as it is. Lots of people worry about what would happen if they were to suffer a fall. Luckily, for those with a personal alarm from Lifeline24, help is always on hand at just the touch of a button. For further information on our personal alarm service, or to order your alarm today, please speak to one of our friendly advisers on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our Contact Us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Readers of our blog can also take a look at our comprehensive guide to the personal alarm.

Want to order your alarm or have a question? Get in touch!