Treatment and Therapy of Bones and Joints for Older Adults

The most prevalent type of arthritis in older persons is osteoarthritis. It is a chronic degenerative joint condition that primarily affects middle-aged and older persons. Lack of mobility can lead to an individual to need long-term health care.

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Treatment and Therapy of Bones and Joints for Older Adults
4 Min Read November 23rd, 2022

Osteoarthritis is a medical condition affecting joints and bones and is common among the elderly. The disorder is best managed in stages such as non-medical treatments, medications, and surgery if medical treatment fails to work. Below is a list of treatments and therapy for bones and joints for the elderly.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Weight Loss

Being obese makes osteoarthritis worse as it strains your joints. You can use a healthy weight calculator to establish whether you are obese or not. Visit this page to learn how to eat a more nutritious diet and the best physical activities if you are overweight. Discuss the new exercise plan with your physiotherapist to develop a suitable exercise program. A practice nurse may advise on multiple ways to lose weight safely and slowly.

  • Exercise

Physical activity is a crucial treatment option for patients with osteoarthritis, regardless of their level of fitness or age. Include multiple exercises in your physical activity to enhance your general fitness and strengthen your muscles. Routine practice helps build muscles, keeps you active, improves symptoms, and supports the joints. It also helps manage your weight, relieves stress, and improves your posture, which eases symptoms in the long run. Your general practitioner discusses the benefits you may expect from a physical activity program and can assist you with an exercise plan to follow at home.

  • Medication

Your doctor may recommend pain-relieving medicines to allow you to cope with the condition. A combination of therapies, including exercise, painkillers, surgery, or assistive devices, is crucial to mitigating your pain. The type of painkiller depends on your other health conditions and the severity of your pain. Some of the medications include:

Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs help minimize inflammation and act as painkillers. Some NSAIDs are creams that you can apply to the affected joints to mitigate the pain. Topical NSAIDs prove effective for patients with osteoarthritis in the hands or knees and help minimize swelling in the joints. These tablets are effective in easing pain, although they aren’t suitable for patients with a stomach ulcer, asthma, stroke, or heart attack. The general practitioner may prescribe a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) for oral NSAIDs to minimize the breakdown of the stomach lining by reducing the amount of acid the stomach produces.

  • Capsaicin Cream

A general practitioner recommends capsaicin cream for patients with osteoarthritis in the knees or hands if topical NSAIDs fail to eradicate their pain. The cream blocks the nerves from relaying pain messages, which facilitates efficient pain management. It would help if you were careful to avoid getting the capsaicin cream on areas including your mouth, eyes, genitals, and nose, as the cream is made from chilies. A burning sensation on the skin may follow after applying the cream, but it shouldn’t worry you as it reduces once you continue using it. Avoid taking a hot shower or applying too much cream after or before applying the cream to minimize the burning sensation.

Surgery

Surgery for osteoarthritis is essential when all other treatments haven’t proven effective or when the joints are severely damaged. Your general practitioner refers you to an orthopedic surgeon to improve your mobility, symptoms, and quality of life. Surgery for osteoarthritis includes:

  • The Removal or Addition of Bone Around the Joint

Patients with knee osteoarthritis who are unfit for knee replacement surgery may opt for osteotomy. The surgeon may remove or add a small section of bone below or above the knee joint. The operation helps realign your knee, which minimizes osteoarthritis symptoms.

  • Joint Replacement

Joint replacement is ideal for knee and hip joint replacement. The surgeon removes the affected joint, replacing it with a prosthesis made of unique metal and plastics. The artificial joint may last up to 20 years, even though it may require later replacement. Resurfacing replacement surgery utilizes metal components and is ideal for younger patients.

Supportive Treatments

In addition to medicine and lifestyle changes, multiple supportive treatments minimize pain and ease everyday tasks.

  • Assistive Devices

If osteoarthritis makes it hard to pursue daily tasks or causes mobility issues, multiple devices can help. Your therapist may recommend special insoles or footwear if your lower limbs, including feet, knees, or hips, have osteoarthritis. You may require help with hand-operated tasks, including opening a tap if your hands have osteoarthritis. Your physiotherapist can help you use assistive devices in your workplace or home.

  • Cold and Hot Therapy

Cold therapy restricts blood vessels, minimizes swelling, slows circulation, and numbs pain, while hot treatment soothes aching muscles and stiff joints by enhancing circulation. You can alternate between cold and hot therapy, but it’s crucial to monitor your skin for damage from such treatments and stop their use in the event of an injury. Heat treatments include taking a warm shower in the morning to minimize stiffness, placing a heating pad on aching joints, and applying warm paraffin wax to the joints. 

Cold treatments include submerging the affected area in ice water, using a cold pack, and placing a bag of ice in painful areas. You can purchase some of these remedies online, including hot water bottles, cold packs, and heating pads.

Patients with osteoarthritis should follow the guidelines of their primary caregiver. Your general practitioner will advise you on the ideal method of coping with your condition.

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Editor's Note

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