While not life-threatening, arthritis can be debilitating, and is a particularly common problem among the over 60s.
The UK National Health Service states that “arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. In the UK, more than 10 million people have arthritis or other, similar conditions that affect the joints.”
There are various forms of arthritis, but far and away the most common is Osteoarthritis.
Other forms include Rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and gout.
“Osteoarthritis initially affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint. This makes movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain and stiffness. Once the cartilage lining starts to roughen and thin out, the tendons and ligaments have to work harder. This can cause swelling and the formation of bony spurs called osteophytes. The most commonly affected joints are those in the: hands, spine, knees, hips.”
Can it be prevented?
WebMD.com says that “with many forms of arthritis, the cause is unknown. But some things can raise your chances of getting it.
• Age. As you get older, your joints tend to get worn down.
• Gender. Most types of arthritis are more common among women, except for gout.
• Genes. Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and ankylosing spondylitis are linked to certain genes.
• Excess weight. Carrying extra pounds makes arthritis in the knee start sooner and get worse faster.
• Injuries. They can cause joint damage that can bring on some types of the condition.
• Infection. Bacteria, viruses, or fungi can infect joints and trigger inflammation.
• Work. If you go hard on your knees at work — knee bends and squats — you might be more likely to get osteoarthritis.”
The Australian site “Health Direct” emphasizes diet, weight and exercise for prevention of athritis.
• A balanced diet will help to achieve a healthy weight and body.
• Taking part in regular physical activity helps to build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, reducing the risk of injury.
• Weight-bearing exercise assists in the maintenance of bone mass which helps with preventing osteoporosis.
• Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is important. People who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis due to the increased load across the weight bearing joints. Also, obesity may cause metabolic changes that promote osteoarthritis.
They add that tobacco smoking increases the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
There are some who believe that a supplement of Glucosamine can help with joint pain, but a Harvard article notes that the evidence for this is mixed, in particular that it may benefit some individuals but not others.
In summary, for over 60s and retired people, if you think of what you can control or influence, it narrows down to:
• Eat a healthy balanced diet.
• If you are overweight, you should take action to reduce your weight
• You should exercise and be physically active, but avoid situations (including sports) where there’s a significant risk of injury
• Take sensible precautions about infection control
Health Direct: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/arthritis-prevention
Link to my post on “Obesity”