Problems with joints and bones are a painful fact of life for many people. However, these conditions are often exacerbated in the elderly. These afflictions make getting around difficult at best, thereby forcing many to rely on mobility aids for walking or even standing, and possibly home care. Most of the aged population just chalk up the aches and pains to ‘arthritis’ – a common occurrence in the natural aging process. However, the true underlying definitions and causes of arthritis are seldom known or understood by those it affects.
There are two forms of arthritis that most commonly affect the elderly population – osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Osteoarthritis is a condition where the cartilage between the bones at the joints is depleted and the bones rub against each other with movement. The lack of support from the cartilage causes severe pain for the person having OA. The most likely places for OA to present itself in the body are the knees, back, hips, and hands. Estimates indicate that 27 million Americans suffer from OA.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that causes thickening and inflammation of the membrane surrounding and covering the joints. Rheumatoid can lead to weakening of joints, tendons, and other parts of the body. When one side of the body is afflicted by RA, the other side will follow suit, making it a symmetrical condition. Both RA and OA are most prevalent in women and are the leading cause of disabilities in older Americans.
Home care is dificult for arthritis because there is no cure for these conditions, those suffering from arthritis eventually learn to live with the pain and discomfort that they cause. However, recent discoveries on the medical front have provided new hope to those afflicted by arthritis that the pain can be managed more effectively using natural products instead of narcotics. Glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega 3 essential fatty acids are some of the natural products that have show promise to those suffering from arthritis. Glucosamine is an amino sugar used to produce cushioning fluid around the joints. Chondroitin is a substance found naturally in animal and human cartilage that also produces cushioning joint fluids. Omega 3 fatty acids are derived from fish oils and are used in a number of different medical treatments, including heart ailments and cholesterol management.
Just because these products are touted to be ‘natural’ does not mean they cannot be harmful – especially when taken without the supervision of a qualified physician. Harmful side effects and adverse reactions could result, especially when combined with other medications. Seniors and people receiving home care should always consult their doctor before self administering any natural remedy.